October being the “National Dental Hygiene Month 2012” I would like to cover this topic where we discuss dental insurance for senior citizens.
Before you finalize on your dental insurance, there are certain points which you need to keep in mind as discussed below:
Things To Consider Before Choosing Dental Insurance For Seniors
- If you choose Medicare as your dental insurance option then keep in mind that it is very limited in coverage. We will cover this in detail below.
- Compare different quotes, before you decide on one of them. It is always a good practice to get the quotes in writing. If you choose one of them, you will always have it with you as a reference.
- Dental insurance, generally is not a part of your standard health insurance policy.
- Regular Check Ups, can save you a lot of money. If you had been taking care of your teeth and visiting a dentist at least once a quarter then you will not have to worry much about paying higher premiums because you will not require any major attention which may arise.
Senior Citizen Best Dental Insurance Options
Dental Insurance Through Medicare: Many seniors, for whom having financial stability becomes a prime factor in old age opt for Medicare for their health insurance needs as the government offers health coverage at subsidised rates. However as I mentioned above Medicare provides limited coverage when it comes to dental insurance. If the cure will only result if a major surgery is performed like reconstruction surgery, then Medicare will cover it. However if it’s a minor dental problem which needs to be addressed then Medicare will not cover it. Under Medicare dental insurance you might be covered for oral examinations but it will not cover treatment post a major surgery.
What Is The Principle Of Coverage Under Medicare
For us any kind of dental care might be a necessity, but dental care coverage for senior citizens under Medicare doesn’t work like this. Whether a particular dental procedure will be covered will depend on the type and also on the body structure on which the procedure will be executed.
Before opting for Medicare dental insurance as an option always check whether you will be covered as per your requirement. There are a lot complicated rules which I can discuss here but it will make things more ambiguous. It is always to take expert advice before you choose an option.
Choosing A Private Insurance Plan For Dental Insurance
HMO/PPO Dental Plans: We will find many seniors and it is highly likely that you, reading this article don’t have dental insurance in your pension plan. In such cases, you may want to go for individual dental insurance plans which also include HMO’s and PPO’s. HMO’s and PPO’s offer plans for seniors who are above the age of 65.
At this point I would like you to be very mindful of HMO’s and PPO’s. You may be in for a shock when it comes down to the coverage and the amount you pay. The structure of HMO or a DMO plan is as such that you have to choose your doctor among the doctors who are on the list of contractors. These doctors have agreed on reduced fees as per the “CONTRACT SIGNED”
Now the agony is, that in reality no dentist would be able to earn a living through his profession if they charge almost 50% less in fees. That fact is that it is just not possible. Hence, when you go for a dental cleaning procedure at your HMO office you are in for a shock looking at the cost which is almost double than you were actually expecting.
Now, these doctors who agree to sign on with the HMO/PPO plans learn to kind of game the system by adding additional fees to the various dental procedures which are not covered by the HMO plans. These doctors completely dissect the package and something which actually should have been part of the entire package is shown as “extras” to you and fees is recovered. Like including the cost of local anaesthesia in “Extras”. So you should be vary observant when you choose an HMO plan as a senior looking for dental insurance.
Dental Indemnity Coverage Plans: This is a traditional insurance plan which is also available for seniors. The advantage of choosing this plan is you have the freedom of choosing your own dentist. However, the disadvantage of this plan is that there is a waiting period before a certain amount from the total expenditure is reimbursed to you.
You may ask, what is the difference between indemnity and HMO plan?
If you have noticed, while giving information on indemnity plan above i mentioned it as a traditional insurance. Why?, coz it is the simplest form of insurance where the insurance company will pay you certain amount for the dental services you avail. This can be the entire amount or a portion of the total cost. In indemnity plan you choose the doctor.
HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) Plan is offered from an organization which collects premium from people who opt for HMO plans and provide dental services at a discounted rate (That’s what it says!) In HMO you don’t have the option of choosing your doctor and you have to choose from the list of contracted doctors. HMO may have limitations because the doctors are given their fees based on the total no of patients treated, and not on the services rendered. Hence, this might not be a quality option.
Discount Dental Plans: These plans fall somewhere in between a private dental insurance plan and a HMO plan. They are a lower cost alternative to private health insurance. If you don’t require frequent and extensive dental care then discount dental plans are the most affordable options for seniors seeking dental insurance. Advantageous propositions for some may be that these plans don’t use deductibles and reimbursement however they are not very financially secure plans.
Discount Dental Plans give the best deal (Money Saving Discounts) for preventive dental care such as teeth cleaning procedures, x-rays and even for complex procedures like root canals. You just pay for the service you opt for at a dentist on discounted rate. No hassle of waiting for reimbursement or any kind of paperwork.
This is a good option if:
- Obviously, you want to save money as a senior citizen on your dental care.
- Your employer don’t provide insurance for dental care.
- Your current dental plans annual limit is exhausted
Choosing A Dental Insurance Plan For Seniors Without A Waiting Period
If you are a part of dental insurance plan from an employer, which is a part of a group then you may not have any waiting period.
Even when you are retired, you can be a part of a group like AARP. AARP is a non employer group which provides dental insurance.
PPO (Preferred Provider Organization) plans. “Blue Shield” dental plan from Blue Cross is one such example of a PPO plan with no waiting period. If you do your research online, I am sure you will find more.
Discount Dental Plans as mentioned above provide affordable dental insurance for seniors without waiting period. Once such provider is “Delta Dental”
So as we see, finding dental insurance for seniors may not be as difficult as it may seem. I hope this article will help you in obtaining the best dental insurance plan as a senior citizen and do take care of your health.
Image Courtesy: Army Medicine’s Photo stream
Category: Personal Finance