Do Seniors Really Need Their Own Dental Plans?

May 7th 2016

Like so many things that change as we age, our dental needs are no exception. Medicare only covers some dental proceduresand only in limited circumstances for specialized care. Without full dental coverage, seniors are left to fend for themselves when it comes to dental care. In most cases, they should seek out quality dental plans geared exclusively to their age group. 

When It Makes Sense for Seniors To Have Their Own Dental Insurance
For most seniors, getting a good dental plan makes sense and is an important part of overall health care. One of the most common plan networks seniors use is Delta Dental because of their affiliation with AARP. Plans specific to each state are easy to price, and things like level of care, deductibles and co-payments are clearly laid out. There are options for individual and family enrollment. Other options include:
The Affordable Care Act: The ACA made children's dental plans a primary focus. Still, there are plans for all ages, and seniors can benefit from taking a look, especially if they are seeking family dental coverage as a stand-alone product. Costs and coverage can vary widely, so do your research. 
Paying out of Pocket: Some seniors elect to pay for dental care out of pocket. It's a sound choice if they don't require much in the way of dental services. If seniors are choosing to pay out of pocket because they anticipate low dental costs, that's entirely different from those who are forced to because they cannot afford traditional dental plans on their fixed incomes. About 30 percent of seniors over the age of 65 have lost their teeth, many as a result of the lack of care. 
Traditional vs. Discount Senior Dental Insurance
The first thing to consider when looking at dental plans is to estimate how much care you think you will need. Most plans have caps, so if you anticipate that you will need a great deal of dental work, a higher cap is a good idea. Preventative care with no co-pays or deductibles is a good feature of most traditional plans as well. If you buy a traditional plan, be aware of the caps and try to schedule any procedures to take maximum benefit of what's allowed. 
When Discount Plans Make Sense
If you feel that you don't need the higher level of coverage provided by a traditional plan, or if the premiums are too high for your budget, consider a discount dental plan. These are usually purchased with an annual payment, but some monthly plans can be found. They work similarly to a discount membership at a store; procedures are still paid for out of pocket but at substantially lower rates. 
Traveling Abroad for Senior Dental Care 
An option for expensive dental care procedures is to have them performed overseas. Patients can save upwards of 70 percent on things like crowns and root canals. When you factor in the savings, you can work it out so you also get a vacation, sometimes for less than what you would have spent just on the dental work at home. A good resource for researching dental care abroad is Patients Beyond Borders, a clearinghouse for medical and dental providers worldwide who have met certain levels of certification. If you know someone in another country, they may be able to refer you to places where you can save even more. If you don't know anyone, it's a good idea to use a referral service. 
With the right information, seniors can find quality dental care that is affordable. Healthy teeth and gums are something more people than ever will be carrying into their golden years. Quality care ensures they keep them healthy after they get there. 
Image courtesy of WikiMedia Commons

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