Is Medicaid All You Need? Dental Insurance for Seniors

May 7th 2016

Not only is health care coverage a necessity for seniors, so is dental care. Seniors often experience pain from cavities, as well as tooth decay and sensitivity in the teeth and gums. The out-of-pocket costs for dental insurance are often too cumbersome for many seniors, which is why Medicaid is often the first choice to ensure optimal dental health for the elderly.

What Is Medicaid?

Medicaid is a voluntary program adopted jointly between states and the federal government. The mission of this program is to provide health and dental insurance coverage for the disabled, elderly and low-income individuals and families. Although states are mandated to provide dental insurance coverage for children who are eligible, not all states provide dental insurance for adults. In most cases, emergency dental services for adults are available to those who qualify for the Medicaid program.

What Dental Services Are Available?

States that provide dental coverage for adults and the elderly through Medicaid allow for basic services such as maintenance of dental health, relief from pain and infections and possible restoration of teeth. Emergency dental services may be available when it is necessary to control bleeding, eliminate acute infections, remove impacted teeth, repair teeth due to injuries and relieve pain through operative procedures.

Preventative care, screenings and examinations typically fall under basic care and may include X-rays, cleanings, sealants and instruction in self-care with oral hygiene procedures. Some states also may cover therapeutic services such as maintenance of space from lost teeth, restoration of teeth with stainless steel crowns or plastic materials, and orthodontic treatment to correct dental problems associated with a disability.

Who Is Eligible for Medicaid Coverage?

Individuals, families, the elderly and disabled people who meet income standards set by each state and the federal government are typically eligible for Medicaid health care coverage. Dental coverage may not be available for adults in all states. Income standards are based on the federal poverty level, which is updated annually to account for inflation and rising costs of living. Individuals applying for Medicaid must meet residency requirements and provide documentation of U.S. citizenship or immigration status.

How Do You Apply For Medicaid?

Individuals who meet the eligibility requirements can apply for Medicaid at a local or regional office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Individuals and families who receive public assistance may automatically be enrolled in Medicaid coverage. The application process requires seniors to provide proof of residency, identification and financial records, including any social security or disability income received.

Dental health care can be costly when opting for coverage through private companies. Medicaid is a government option that may help to reduce costs and provide the care needed for the elderly.

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