Dental care can be expensive. But nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries—about 24 million people—don’t have dental coverage, according to the Kaiser Family FoundationMedicare and Dental Coverage: A Closer Look. kff.org. Accessed 10/1/2021. . Proposed legislation aims to change that: Democratic lawmakers hope to add dental coverage to Medicare, which would be a boon to the 62.7 million people enrolled in it for their primary health coverage.
*Dependent on the plan and participating health care providers—coverage may vary
In the meantime, here’s what to know about how people enrolled in Medicare can get dental coverage. FEATURED PARTNER OFFER Partner Offers feature brands who paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where their products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our ratings, which are based on thorough research, solid methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services Call Now On Medicare Enrollment's Website
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Does Medicare Cover Dental Costs?
No. Original Medicare, which is managed by the federal government, does not cover most routine dental care, dental procedures or supplies. People insured by Medicare have to pay the full cost of cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions and dentures.
However, Medicare Part A—which covers hospital stays, care in skilled nursing facilities and hospice care—pays for certain medical dental services provided during a hospital stay. For example, if you suffered a traumatic injury to your teeth or jaw, Medicare would cover hospitalization and procedures medically necessary for recovery.
Does Medicare Advantage Cover Dental Care?
Sometimes, Medicare Advantage (often called Part C) 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 it’s important to read your plan’s details carefully.
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.
What Does Medicare Dental Coverage Include?
Exactly what dental coverage includes varies depending on the Medicare Advantage plan you choose.
Aetna Medicare Advantage, for example, offers three types of dental coverage:
- Network: Preventative services, such as dental cleanings and X-rays, are covered.
- Direct member reimbursement allowance: You pay upfront for your dental care and then submit receipts for reimbursement (up to a certain amount).
- Optional supplemental benefits: You can purchase dental benefits for an extra premium each month.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 94% of Medicare Advantage enrollees have some dental coverage. Of those, 14% only have preventive coverage, which includes oral exams, dental X-rays and cleanings. Meanwhile, 86% have access to more extensive benefits that cover fillings, root canals, dentures and oral surgeryMedicare Advantage in 2021: Premiums, Cost Sharing, Out-of-Pocket Limits and Supplemental Benefits. kff.org. Accessed 10/1/2021. .
How Much Does Medicare Advantage Cost with Dental Coverage?
Generally, the cost of Medicare Advantage plans and dental coverage specifically in cases where there’s an extra premium involved vary based on factors like your age and where you live. Some have a $0 monthly premium while others cost more. In eastern Pennsylvania, for example, Medicare Advantage plan premiums range from $0 to $302 a month. In the Los Angeles area, they range from $0 to $397 a month.
Low-cost Medicare Advantage plans that don’t include an extra monthly premium for dental coverage typically include basic dental services, such as checkups and cleanings, says Worstell.
“The more expensive plans [with higher premiums] include coverage of more advanced dental services like extractions and dentures and other things more relevant to older patients.”
Do Medicare Supplement Plans Cover Dental Care?
Medicare Supplement plans—also known as Medigap plans—don’t 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 don’t all do that, but a lot of carriers these days are now offering it.”
“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.
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 state’s current Medicaid dental offerings for adults.
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What Is the Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare?
Determining which dental insurance plan is best for you requires a consideration of your specific needs and preferences. It all boils down to what aspects of dental coverage are most important to you, be it the cost, network size or benefits that address specific dental issues that concern you most. Start by narrowing your plan options based on your geography and budget. Next, you can compare various plans’ customer satisfaction ratings, coverage limits and more. It’s also worth researching the top dental insurance providers before enrolling in coverage.
How to Enroll in Medicare Plans with Dental Coverage
You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible for Medicare or during the open enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 this year, says Worstell. He suggests visiting Medicare’s plan comparison website and entering your ZIP code to see each plan you’re eligible for and whether they include dental benefits. You can click into each plan summary to learn more about what that dental coverage includes.
You can also enroll in a Medigap plan at any time throughout the year, says Worstell. However, he suggests doing so when you first become eligible for Medicare, since that’s when you’re likely to get the best rate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Medicare cover dental implants?
No, Original Medicare doesn’t provide coverage for dental implants. However, some Medicare Advantage plans do offer some coverage for dental implants, so be sure to review your specific policy before pursuing any procedures.
What dental services are covered by Medicare?
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover any dental services. However, some Medicare Advantage plans do cover basic dental services, including cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions and dentures.
Which Medicare Advantage plan has the best dental coverage?
To find the best dental coverage for you, use Medicare’s plan comparison tool by entering your ZIP code. View each plan you’re eligible for and whether they include dental benefits. Read each plan summary to learn more about what the dental coverage includes.
Why doesn’t Original Medicare cover dental?
Medicare’s key coverage points have changed very little since the program was established in 1965. Why dental coverage wasn’t included in the original package is a matter of debate, but introducing it now would require an enormous political effort and financial investment.
The American Dental Association has also consistently opposed the idea of bundling dental coverage into Original Medicare, citing the threat of lower pay.
Does Medicare cover tooth extraction?
No. Original Medicare doesn’t cover the costs associated with tooth extractions, but some Medicare Advantage plans may help cover tooth extraction procedures.