Comparing Medicare Plans For Dental Coverage
You may also want to consider dental coverage outside of Medicare. You may have options, such as:
- Stand-alone dental insurance. These plans require you to pay a separate premium for coverage.
- Spouse or partner employee-sponsored insurance plan. If its possible to sign up for coverage under a spouses dental plan, that may be a less expensive option.
- Dental discount groups. These dont provide insurance coverage, but they allow members to get dental services at a lower cost.
- Medicaid. Depending on the state you live in and your financial situation, you may be eligible for dental care through Medicaid.
- Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly . The PACE program can help you get coordinated care within your local community, including dental services.
Option : Medicare Advantage Plans With Dental Coverage
Dental coverage varies widely by Medicare Advantage plan. In some cases, you have to pay extra to have dental care included in your plan. There could also be options for basic or premium coverage, letting you choose the dental plan that works for you.
Look for plans that offer low-cost or free preventative services. If you need more expensive treatments, pay attention to the plan’s cost-sharing percentage and the cap on how much the plan will cover each year.
The best Medicare Advantage plans for dental coverage are from AARP/UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Highmark.
AARP: largest network of dentists
Among our picks for the best Medicare Advantage plans, Aetna has the cheapest monthly costs. The company reimburses policyholders for in-network dental coverage, and it provides the option for expanded dental benefits at an additional monthly cost. This can be a great way to manage your expenses if you need significant dental services in the upcoming policy year.
If you’re signing up for a new Medicare Advantage plan, you can choose your dental coverage options during the plan selection process. If you’re already enrolled in Medicare Advantage, talk to your provider about what dental coverage options are available to you, and if there is no add-on coverage available, you may be able to enroll in a standalone dental policy.
Do Any Medicare Plans Cover Dentures
Original Medicare Medicare Part A and Part B typically does not cover dentures or other dental services.
Some Medicare Advantage plans and other Medicare-related insurance or savings plans may offer options to help pay for dentures or other dental services.
Medicare Plans and Denture CoverageNew to Signing Up for Medicare?
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When Should You Get A Standalone Dental Plan
If you’re not signing up for a Medicare Advantage plan that gives you unified coverage across medical and dental, a standalone dental plan is the next best way to get coverage.
You can purchase a plan directly from a private insurance company, and most let you sign up for dental insurance even if you don’t have medical insurance through the company. This plan won’t be connected to your other coverage through the Medicare program, but it can help you get cost-savings benefits so you get the dental services you need.
Benefits of standalone dental plans:
- Choose the level of coverage you want, with plans ranging from basic or preventative coverage to plans that cover more extensive dental treatments.
- Select the insurance company that has your preferred dentists in its network of providers without this choice influencing your medical plan.
Dental plans for seniors include Dental HMOs, which generally have lower monthly costs but only cover care from an in-network dentist. If you’d rather have the flexibility to see any dentist, choose a Dental PPO plan that provides broader coverage but generally costs more each month.
Defining Medically Necessary Dental Services
The 1997 Balanced Budget Act, which provided for this study, included no definition of medically necessary dental services. One definition of such services is found in a bill submitted earlier in 1997 . It called for coverage of dental services that are medically necessary as a direct result of, or will have a direct impact on, an underlying medical condition if the coverage of such services is cost-effective . It also included explicit provisions for Medicare to cover dental care related to several specific illnesses. The bill’s languageminus the wording about cost-effectivenessis similar to that used three years earlier in a bill that included medically necessary oral health care in a proposed set of basic benefits to be covered as part of broad health care reform . This earlier proposal also included oral care intended to control pain and infection and to restore function. The committee understands these definitions of medically necessary servicesparticularly the one proposed in 1997to be narrowly constructed to continue the general exclusion of Medicare coverage for dental care but to broaden the scope of the exceptions to include dental care needed to prevent or effectively manage systemic conditions including the oral complications of specific illnesses or their medical treatment.
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What Dental Services Are Covered By Medicare
Medicare beneficiaries often wonder if their coverage includes dental services. Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover routine dental care.
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However, when it comes to dental coverage on Medicare, you are not without options. If you decide to keep Original Medicare, you can purchase a dental plan alongside this coverage to pay for cleanings, exams, and other dental care.
Another option for dental coverage is to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan with dental benefits. Not all Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage, but many do. Were here to help you make the right decision for your dental care needs and explain when Medicare covers dental services.
Table 42summary Of Dental Services Currently Covered And Not Covered Under Medicare For Selected Diseases Or Conditions
|Management of infection following transplantationOral examination prior to renal transplant surgery on an inpatient basis||Oral examination for transplants other than kidneyOutpatient oral examination performed by a dentist prior to kidney transplantDental treatment to reduce risk of infection or eliminate infection for any transplantation prior to or following transplant|
|Heart valve repair or replacement||None||Oral examination prior to repair or replacementDental treatment to reduce risk of infection or eliminate infection prior to or following repair or replacement of valve|
To guide its assessment of the evidence about dental care for these five conditions, the committee adapted the evidence pyramid introduced in as shown in . One distinguishing feature of compared to the generic pyramid is that it requires a link between a nondental condition or treatment and either dental services or dental complications. The first tier of the pyramid refers accordingly to the relationship between the medical conditions listed earlier and oral health conditions. The relationship could be manifest either as an increased risk to oral health caused by the medical condition or as an increased risk to systemic health related to poor oral health. The tiers above refer to the effectiveness of dental care in treating oral problems and improving outcomes for the medical condition.
Evidence pyramid for assessing medically necessary dental services. SOURCE: Adapted from IOM/NRC, 1999, p. 89.
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Does Medicaid Cover Dental Care
Medicaid dental coverage depends on the state in which you live, as well as your age. Medicaid is required to provide children with access to dental coverage, but each state determines which dental benefits adults enrolled in Medicaid receive. Most states do provide coverage for emergency dental services for adults, but fewer than half currently offer comprehensive dental coverage to adult Medicaid enrollees.
This list summarizes each states current Medicaid dental offerings for adults.
Dental Care For Patients Before Or After Organ Transplantation
As noted above, the standard of care for transplant candidates includes the prevention and elimination of oral infection. Such care involves an oral examination that includes visual and tactile inspection of the mouth and is usually accompanied by x-rays. An oral examination also typically includes instruction in personal oral hygiene intended to help patients avoid posttransplant gingivitis and other oral problems. At least one controlled study has found less gingivitis, plaque, or gingival overgrowth in transplant patients who received hygiene instruction compared to those who did not .
Dental prophylaxis removes plaque, a tenacious film of germs that adheres to the teeth, and calculus that can build up to cause periodontal disease. When periodontal disease is diagnosed, treatmentwhich can be limited or quite extensiveremoves hardened plaque, calculus, and infected tissue under the gum and smoothes the root surfaces of teeth so that damaged tissue can heal and reattach to the teeth. If damage to teeth or gums is serious enough, teeth may have to be extracted. If the base of the tooth root is infected, a root canal may be performed.
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How Could Medicare Dental Coverage Change In 2022
In 2021, a bill was introduced in the House to add dental coverage to Medicare Part B.
Known as the Medicare Dental, Vision, and Hearing Benefit Act, the idea has support from the White House as part of President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda. Specifically, the fiscal year 2022 budget proposal for the U.S. government indicates the intent for “improving access to dental, hearing, and vision coverage in Medicare.”
This is not the first time it has been proposed to offer dental coverage to Medicare beneficiaries, and it’s an important health care issue. About 47% of those on Medicare don’t have dental coverage.
The legislative process will determine if Medicare benefits are expanded in 2022 to include dental. However, there is political incentive because adding dental, vision and hearing is cheaper than other proposed Medicare extensions, such as adding nursing home coverage.
Dental Benefits For Adults In Medicaid
States have flexibility to determine what dental benefits are provided to adult Medicaid enrollees. While most states provide at least emergency dental services for adults, less than half of the states currently provide comprehensive dental care. There are no minimum requirements for adult dental coverage.
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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
Five Decades Later Medicare Might Cover Dental Care
In the large budget bill now in Congress, supporters of the measure see a rare opportunity to advance a popular policy.
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Tens of millions of older Americans who cannot afford dental care with severe consequences for their overall health, what they eat and even when they smile may soon get help as Democrats maneuver to add dental benefits to Medicare for the first time in its history.
The proposal, part of the large budget bill moving through Congress, would be among the largest changes to Medicare since its creation in 1965 but would require overcoming resistance from dentists themselves, who are worried that it would pay them too little.
The impact could be enormous for people like Natalie Hayes, 69. Ms. Hayes worked in restaurants, raised a son and managed her health as best she could within her limited means. As she lost her teeth most of them many years ago and her remaining front ones last fall she simply lived with it.
I had a lot of pneumonia, she said, at a recent visit to the Northern Counties Dental Center in Hardwick, Vt. Not a lot of good dental care.
For reference, she showed Colleen Mercier, a dental assistant, an old photograph.
You have a pretty smile, Ms. Mercier said
Its highly unusual, she said. Weve gotten from, Oh this would be good, to, Oh this is important, and lets take action now.
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Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Dental Services
Original Medicare offers limited dental coverage, but Medicare Advantage Plans typically cover preventive and comprehensive dental services.
What you should know
|1. Original Medicare parts A and B dont offer dental coverage outside of the limited coverage that you get under Part A. You must enroll into a Medicare Advantage Plan or a stand-alone dental plan.||2. Medicare Advantage Plans with dental coverage dont have a waiting period before you can use the dental plan.|
|3. Most plans cover both preventive and comprehensive dental services.||4. In most cases, there is an annual allowance offered to offset the cost of dentures or any other comprehensive service.|
Do All Medicare Advantage Plans Come With Dental Coverage
All Medicare Advantage Plans have dental coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans have to cover everything that Original Medicare covers. Dental is very limited when you are only covered by Original Medicare. However, if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, there could be some added benefits.
For example, you may be offered an annual allowance that can be used on your dental coverage for certain comprehensive services. Typically, cleanings and X-rays are covered as part of preventive services and normally include two cleanings including X-rays during the visit annually.
The best part about dental coverage on the Medicare Advantage Plan is that it is all-inclusive with the plan, and there is no waiting period. Even if the Medicare Advantage doesnt have a monthly premium, itll still offer dental coverage in most cases.
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Best For Special Needs: Cigna
If you have special dental needs as a senior on Medicare, then Cigna is a good choice. They offer special needs plans and an increased range of services for customers who need them.
Some plans don’t include prescription coverage
We chose Cigna as the 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 offer Special Needs Plans until 2021 . Annual NCQA approval is required for this plan type.
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.
Why Its Important To Find Good Dental Coverage As You Get Older
Good dental care is vital to maintaining your overall health and wellness. Poor dental hygiene has been linked to chronic inflammation, diabetes, heart conditions, and other serious health difficulties.
And studies have also shown that people sometimes neglect their dental care as they get older, often because dental care can be expensive.
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that 23 percent of seniors havent had a dental exam in the past 5 years. That figure is highest among African American and Hispanic people and among those who have lower incomes.
One nationally representative poll conducted in 2017 revealed that cost was the most common reason people didnt seek professional help in caring for their teeth. Yet good preventive care can help you avoid more serious dental problems in the future.
For that reason, its a good idea to consider an affordable plan thatll cover the dental services you need as you get older.
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Medically Necessary Dental Services
From the outset, the Medicare program has excluded coverage for services in connection with the care, treatment, filling, removal, or replacement of teeth or structures directly supporting the teeth of the Social Security Act). The 1965 legislation authorizing the program provided a narrow exception that payment could be made in the case of inpatient hospital services in connection with the provision of dental services if the individual, because of his/her underlying medical condition and clinical status, or because of the severity of the dental procedure, requires hospitalization in connection with the provision of such services.
summarizes Medicare’s limited coverage of dental services. The summary is based on HCFA policy statements rather than on sometimes conflicting carrier policies.
Medicare Coverage of Dental Services as Specified in Statute or by the Health Care Financing Administration.
Neither the statutory nor the regulatory language related to coverage exceptions for dental services is straightforward to interpret. Moreover, carrier interpretation is not always consistent. For example, at least one carrier’s policies appear to approve coverage for an oral examination not only for kidney transplant patients but also for heart, liver, and other covered organ transplants, whether performed on an outpatient or an inpatient basis .