Best For Special Needs: Cigna
Only available in 23 states
Dental coverage only available with some plans
We chose Cigna as best for special needs because of their personalized plan offerings. While other Medicare Advantage Plans limit coverage to individuals with special health conditions or care needs, Cigna offers special needs plans that include access to a wider range of specialists, along with regular health assessment .
Depending on your health care needs, Cigna offers an increased range of services, whether that is more intensive treatments, personalized care treatments, or more individual specialist attention.
Based on a review of Cignas Model of Care, the National Committee for Quality Assurance has approved Cigna to operate as a Special Needs Plan through 2021.
Cigna offers a health risk assessment that can be used to develop personalized care plans with Cigna Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees and their primary care doctor. The HRA also helps match each enrollee with the health and wellness services that best fit their needs.
Originally founded in 1792 as the Insurance Company of North America, Cigna is now an American worldwide health services organization. They have a full range of plans with premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location.
Medicaid Enrollees Need Access To Dental Vision And Hearing Services
Fixing gaps in coverage only in Medicare without making the corresponding changes in Medicaid would exclude many people with significant unmet needs. Providing access to a full range of preventive services and treatment for non-elderly adults with Medicaid coverage could prevent more serious conditions later in life as well as the need for more invasive, costly procedures.
As shown in Figure 4, while a significant share of traditional Medicare enrollees aged 65 and over report having unmet dental needs due to cost, the share is almost two-thirds higher among Medicaid enrollees under age 65, who are low income by definition. While Medicaid enrollees under the age of 21 are eligible for dental care as part of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment benefit, once young adults turn 21, many no longer have access to treatment options. Adult Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 with disabilities many of whom also receive Medicaid face disproportionate challenges in obtaining needed dental care. Low-income seniors enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid also have higher rates of unmet dental needs due to cost than other Medicare enrollees.
Congress would need to make various design decisions in adding dental, vision, and hearing benefits to Medicaid. They include: how the federal government and states would share the cost what benefit standards the federal government would set and whether Congress would permit nominal cost sharing.
Coverage Of Routine Dental Care Wasnt Built Into Medicare
Medicare was never designed to include routine dental care Medicares coverage of dental expenses is limited to situations where the dental treatment is integral to other medical treatment . Although, as noted in this brief from the Center for Medicare Advocacy, CMS has some flexibility when it comes to how the rules are interpreted.
While health insurance plans generally pick up the tab for large medical bills, its rare to find dental coverage that doesnt leave enrollees on the hook for significant bills if they need extensive dental work. This is generally true across a wide range of plan types, including Medicare Advantage dental coverage, stand-alone dental plans, and group dental plans for employees and retirees. Dental plans commonly have benefit maximums of $1,000 or $2,000 per year, and a single root canal can cost upwards of $1,500, while an implant can be as much as $7,500 per tooth.
But some coverage is better than nothing. Even with low benefit maximums, people who have dental insurance are more likely to receive routine preventive dental care, and are less likely to have untreated dental problems that get worse over time.
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How Medicare Advantage Dental Coverage Compares To Affordable Care Act Marketplace Coverage
As context for assessing the scope of dental benefits offered to Medicare Advantage enrollees, we reviewed dental coverage available to those who purchase dental coverage through the ACA Marketplaces. Adults purchasing plans through the ACA Marketplace may have dental coverage as part of their medical plan, or may choose to purchase separate stand-alone dental coverage. Among stand-alone dental plans available to adults on HealthCare.gov in 2021 , 100% cover routine preventive dental services , 97% cover basic dental care , and 81% cover major dental care . Unlike the analysis of Medicare Advantage plans, the data on the ACA Marketplace is not enrollment-weighted.
Like Medicare Advantage plans, most plans have little to no cost sharing for preventive services. For adult routine dental coverage, most plans charge no coinsurance , followed by no coinsurance after meeting the dental deductible . The median dental deductible for an individual is $50. For adult basic dental care, the most common cost sharing amount is 50% coinsurance after meeting the dental deductible .
Most plans on the ACA Marketplace have an annual limit the plan will pay toward covered services, typically ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. For stand-alone dental coverage, premiums vary slightly depending on the age of the enrollee. For an adult age 40, the average premium in 2021 is $290 per year, and ranges from $97 per year to $780 per year.
Do Medicare Advantage And Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Dental
Sometimes, Medicare Advantage plans are approved by the federal government and sold by private insurance companies. These plans often offer services not covered by Original Medicare, such as dental, vision and hearing coverage, says Christian Worstell, a North Carolina-based licensed insurance agent. Enrollees might pay an extra premium for these benefits. However, not all Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage, so its important to read your plans details carefully.
Medicare Supplement plansalso known as Medigap plansdont directly cover dental, but they pick up some of the out-of-pocket costs like copayments, coinsurance and deductibles, says Worstell. Plus, many insurance companies that sell Medigap plans offer you the option of adding a dental or vision package for an additional premium, he adds. They dont all do that, but a lot of carriers these days are now offering it.
Medicare Advantage plans tend to be the best way to get dental coverage, but you can also buy a separate dental plan offered by a private insurance company, says Worstells.
My advice to all incoming Medicare beneficiaries is to ask yourself, How do I plan to pay for my dental care? Do you have the funds to pay for it out of pocket? If not, you should strongly consider a Medicare Advantage plan or a standalone dental insurance plan from a Medicare carrier or insurance carrier, advises Worstells.
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Medicare And A Lack Of Dental Coverage
Unfortunately, having Medicare doesnt always help with this issue. According to Medicare.gov, this federal health insurance program typically does not cover dental care, procedures, or supplies.
Medicare doesnt provide benefits toward regular cleanings or services designed to treat and/or correct problematic oral issues, such as fillings or tooth extractions.
Medicare also does not generally offer benefits for dental devices, including dentures and dental plates.
So, what does Medicare cover when it comes to dental health care?
Medicare will also contribute toward oral examinations needed before kidney transplants or heart valve replacements in certain situations.
Best Dental Insurance For Seniors On Medicare Of 2022
- Best Customer Service: Kaiser Permanente
- Best Online Tools: Humana
- Best for Potential New Offerings: WellCare
- Best for Special Needs: Cigna
- Coverage Limit : $1,000 to $3,000
- Providers In Network: 1,300,000
United Healthcare is our top overall pick for dental insurance for seniors on Medicare. They offer Medicare Advantage plans with an expansive network and flexible premiums.
Limited plan options depending on your location
Not all Advantage plans include dental coverage
United Healthcare, founded in 1974, was chosen as best overall based on its popularity and its affiliation with the American Association of Retired People . In 2021, 22 million people were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans nationwide. Of those 22 million people, United Healthcare insured the largest share of them, 27%.
More than 74% of Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least one United Healthcare plan. Also, United Healthcare services ranked fourth in overall customer service in a 2021 J.D. Power study .
Their full range of plans has premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location. If you choose United Healthcare, you’ll also receive access to additional AARP programs and services such as discounts on shopping and travel, savings on home and auto insurance, and free financial advice.
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Does Medicare Coverage Include Vision And Dental Care
When it comes to vision and dental care, things can get a bit confusing concerning what coverage you have with your Medicare benefits. Because Original Medicare Part A and Part B provide coverage for care that is medically necessary, they do not help pay for routine vision and dental care such as regular examinations, teeth cleanings or fillings, tooth extraction, eyeglasses or contact lenses.
But not all vision and dental care is routine. Your Original Medicare insurance , or Medicare Advantage Plan , may offer coverage for certain preventive and diagnostic exams, treatments, surgeries, or some supplies. It is important to know what coverage you have regarding your vision and dental care. Having all the information about your Medicare benefits is essential for making the best decisions regarding your health care.How does Medicare cover vision care?
If you require vision care as a medical emergency or due to traumatic injury, Original Medicare Part A covers that care if you are treated as an inpatient in a hospital. You must be formally admitted as an inpatient at a Medicare-approved facility.
Medicare recipients who have Original Medicare Part B have coverage for the following preventive and diagnostic eye exams:
- Eye examinations for diabetics to test for diabetic retinopathy one time per year.
- Glaucoma tests once every 12 months if you are considered at high risk for glaucoma. People at high risk are:
Medicare Advantage Dental Benefits
Medicare Advantage plans may provide extra benefits that are not covered under traditional Medicare, such as dental, vision, hearing, and fitness benefits. The cost of these benefits may be covered using rebate dollars. Plans can also charge additional premiums for such benefits. In 2021, 94% of Medicare Advantage enrollees in individual plans, have access to some dental coverage. The majority of these Medicare Advantage enrollees have access to a plan with more extensive coverage, while 14% had access to preventive coverage only. Preventive dental coverage under Medicare Advantage plans generally includes oral exams, cleanings, dental x-rays, and sometimes fluoride treatments. More extensive benefits cover a range of services, including restorative services , endodontics , periodontics , prosthodontics , and oral surgery.
The Scope of Covered Dental Benefits Varies Across Medicare Advantage Plans
Virtually all Medicare Advantage enrollees in plans that offer access to dental benefits , have access to preventive services, including oral exams , cleanings , and x-rays , although fewer enrollees have access to fluoride treatment .
like other dental benefits, coverage for dentures varies across plans
Medicare Advantage Plans That Offer Dental Benefits Typically Have an Annual Dollar Cap on Dental Coverage
Preventive Services Are Often Covered Without Cost Sharing For More Extensive Dental Services, 50% Coinsurance and Caps Are the Norm
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Why Dental Care Is So Important As You Age
While many people worry about keeping their teeth white, good dental care is more than a cosmetic issue. Your teeth and gums can affect your health in other ways, too. As you get older, its increasingly important to take care of your oral health.
While 75% of people over the age of 65 retain some of their natural teeth, older people are at higher risk of gum disease, tooth decay, oral cancer, and tooth loss. Worse, the chance of having tooth decay severe enough to require a root canal triples after you turn 65.
According to Harvard Medical School, theres an association between gum disease and conditions like heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. Twice-daily brushing and flossing, combined with regular dental cleanings and exams, can reduce your risk of disease and the need for painful procedures.
Is Dental Health Really An Issue For Older Americans
Nearly 24 million people about half of all Medicare beneficiaries did not have any form of dental coverage as 2019, according to findings released in July by Kaiser Family Foundation. The remaining had coverage through Medicare Advantage plans, Medicaid and private plans.
Because of inadequate dental insurance coverage and high costs, many Medicare beneficiaries forego routine and other dental procedures, KFF found.
“It’s a large public health issue,” said Rice of UCLA. Half of seniors don’t go to the dentist and “the main reason is because of costs.”
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Medicare Dental Coverage Under Medicare Advantage
If youd like to get more comprehensive dental coverage under Medicare, you might want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan, available under the Medicare Part C program. Offered through Medicare-contracted private insurance companies, these plans are required to offer at least the same coverage as Original Medicare in other words, a Medicare Advantage plan would cover dental care under the same situations as Original Medicare. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans offer additional benefits such as routine dental or vision care, wellness programs, and prescription drug coverage.
While Medicare dental benefits may vary by plan, some of the services you may be covered under a Medicare Advantage plan may include routine dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, fillings, crowns, root canals, and more. Some Medicare Advantage plans may require you to use dentists in provider networks when receiving care, or you may have the option to use non-network dentists but at a higher cost-sharing level you can check with the specific plan youre considering for more details.
Keep in mind that there may be certain costs related to your dental coverage, including deductibles, copayments, and or/coinsurance. In addition, youll need to keep paying your Part B premium if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, along with any monthly premium required for your plan.
What Dental Care Does Medicare Part A Cover
Medicare Part A won’t cover dental services such as cleaning, fillings, root canals, crowns, extractions or dentures.
However, if you have an emergency or complicated dental procedure where you need to go to the hospital, Medicare Part A can cover your hospital care. This could include jaw surgery, tooth extractions before cancer radiation treatments, splints for facial fractures, an oral exam before a kidney transplant or other major treatments.
In these situations where you need hospital treatment for your jaw, mouth or teeth, we recommend that you check the billing codes for each service to confirm your coverage.
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Can Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Dental
Medicare Advantage plans are a popular alternative to Original Medicare, and many Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage for routine dental care such as teeth cleanings and allowances for dentures.
Beneficiaries who are eligible for Medicare may choose to sign up for an MA plan that includes all of the benefits covered buy Original Medicare, plus a few extra services not paid for by Original Medicare.
Part C plans in many states offer dental insurance as a covered benefit, though monthly premiums vary between policies and coverage limits may be in place. As always, only a qualified plan representative can provide definitive answers about the dental coverage a specific Medicare Advantage plan provides.
What Dental Procedures Does Medicaid Cover
In general, Medicaid will only cover dental treatments that are performed to prepare you for an upcoming and necessary medical procedure. This could involve extracting teeth to prepare you for reconstructive surgery after a serious auto accident or providing you with dentures to manage health issues involved with missing teeth. Other coverage offered by Medicaid will vary from state to state:
- Some states offer no dental care coverage through Medicaid.
- Others may impose a dollar-amount limit on the dental care covered by Medicaid in their state.
- States may offer some care for those under the age of 21 while denying coverage to adults.
- Emergency-only dental services may be covered by the state under Medicaid.
- Some states do offer an optional plan that includes dental, vision and chiropractic services for an additional monthly fee.
- In some states, Medicaid is currently being expanded to offer basic dental care services to patients. This can often improve their state of health to reduce the overall cost of Medicaid coverage in these areas.
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Dental Coverage Through Pace
PACE is another type of Medicare program that provides some level of dental coverage.
PACE is short for Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly and is designed to help participants meet their health care needs in the community instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility, according to Medicare.gov.
With PACE, contracts are made with area specialists and healthcare providers to provide participants care for dentistry, as well as other services they likely need. These include adult day primary care, laboratory services, meals, nursing home care, nutritional counseling, occupational or physical therapy, prescription drugs, and more.
To qualify for PACE, participants must meet four minimum requirements:
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