As we age, our bodies require much more attention. One area where we need to focus on is our teeth. Most older people tend to not realize the need for good oral hygiene. That is why many elderly people have false teeth or lack of teeth itself. However, getting health care that provides dental coverage is not always easy to find. Medicare does not offer dental insurance, which many older adults can use. That being said, nearly ten percent of seniors cannot maintain good oral health because of the overwhelming out of pocket costs. Yet there are some options for receiving dental coverage other ways. Sometimes coverage can be found through retirement plans, Medicare Advantage plans with dental, employer-based plans, or through private insurance companies.
How To Choose the Best Dental Insurance for Seniors
When navigating the dental insurance market, most people are uneasy about it, similar to going to the dentist. The good news is that there are many types of plans to evaluate and choose from. Seniors most likely look at the cost of a plan, yet there are other factors to consider. Here are four ways to choose the best dental insurance plan that fits your needs.
- Low Costs: Seniors often will look for providers with the best affordable premiums or the lowest deductibles.
- Coverage Limits: Since most dental work can be costly; it is best to have the highest coverage limits possible. This way, seniors can get all they need done with ease; from dentures to crowns to implants and also bridges.
- Network Availability: One factor that many seniors should always look into is the provider’s availability to its customers. Choosing a large network or those available nationwide is a great place to start.
- Short Waiting Periods: In some cases, dental insurers will offer to cover basic or routine procedures with no waiting periods. However, certain procedures do take time. To get the maximum coverage, look for the insurance providers with the shortest waiting periods for the majority of procedures as possible.
Over much research, the top five dental insurance providers are Cigna, Aetna, Humana, Delta Dental, and United Healthcare. Below is a short description and the stats that make these five the best options for senior citizens.
Cigna dental insurance basically has three different plans for seniors to choose from. These plans are Dental Preventive, Dental 1000, and Dental 1500. The cheapest one, Dental Preventive, is only $25 monthly, which remains the lowest estimated premium price for those 65 and older. Deductibles and copays are waived for preventive care and offers 24/7 customer service through a simple claims management. Finding a Dentist is easier than before, with more than 93,000 in-network dentists available. The Claims department is courteous and provides easy to fill out forms, including an easy way to track status of a claim. Some restrictions may apply on the plans.
Pros to Cigna Plans
- Plans start at less than $20 per month
- Copays and deductibles waived on preventive care
- Simple, online claims process and 24/7 customer support
- Brighter Score ratings help choose practitioners
- Coverage for major procedures
- $1000 and $1,500 maximums set for the 1000 and 1500 plans
- Added restrictions and differing coverage in Maryland and New York
Aetna dental insurance for seniors offers three types of plans. Aetna Direct Preventive offers the lowest premiums. Yet it does not cover basic or major procedures. On the other hand, Aetna Direct Core and Direct Preferred provides a more favorable payment option for both basic and major procedures, which includes fillings and extractions. Searching for a dentist through the Aetna portal takes less effort as well, with around 372,000 practitioners to choose from. Aetna supports out-of-network coverage; however, choosing one most likely will be more expensive. Some procedures are not covered through Aetna and certain procedures may have waiting periods.
- Broad network coverage
- Easy-to-navigate benefits and provider network
- Routine, preventive care is fully covered
- High coverage of basic procedures
- High out-of-network costs
- Longer waiting periods
- Unavailable in Massachusetts
Humana dental insurance offers four different dental plans for seniors to choose from; including preventive care, vision coverage, and lifetime deductibles. Humana offers seniors a nationwide network of over 270,000 dentists. Each plan is reasonably affordable with the lowest only $21.99 per month. All plans include a deductible of only $50! Although the basic plan is the most affordable per month, the Humana Complete Dental plan provides a more financial benefit to the senior citizen.
- 80% coverage for basic procedures
- Yearly teeth whitening allowance
- No waiting periods on some plans
- Low deductibles
- Higher costs for preventive plan
- Enrollment fees in some states
Delta Dental is one of the largest dental insurance providers in the Nation. Through a partnership with AARP, Delta Dental has reached over 80 million American customers. Delta Dental also offers services specifically for seniors, unlike most dental insurance providers. Overall, Delta Dental is considered one of the most affordable options for dental insurance plans.
- Preventive plan starting under $10 a month
- Both PPO and HMO options available in all 50 states
- Plans geared specifically toward seniors
- Plans are widely acceptable
- Occasionally high premiums on PPO plans
- Mandatory waiting periods
The last on this list is UnitedHealthcare dental insurance. There are four different plans for seniors to choose from. For each plan, there are minimal waiting periods. Both hearing health benefits and comprehensive coverage of preventive care are included. Presently, UnitedHealthcare provides coverage in 44 states.
- No waiting periods on many services
- Vision rider availability
- Partial hearing aid coverage included in plans
- Partial hearing aid coverage included in plans
- Higher premiums overall
The Breakdown on Each Five Dental Insurance Providers
|Provider||Plans Offered||Annual Coverage Limit||Waiting Period||Deductible||Monthly Premium Estimate|
|Cigna||3||$0 to $1,500||Up to 12 Months||$50||$25 to $56|
|Aetna||2||$0 to $1,250||Up to 12 Months||$50||$22.64 to $62.95|
|Humana||5||$1,000 to Unlimited||Up to 6 Months||$50 to $150||$21.99 to $59.99|
|Delta Dental||3||$1,250 to Unlimited||Up to 12 Months||Up to $90||$8.92 to $64.92|
|UnitedHealthcare||4||$1,000 to $2,000||0 to 6 Months||$50 to $100||$51.89 to $76.80|
Overall, each one of these five dental insurance providers highlights many benefits and advantages for seniors to choose from. No matter which one you may choose, the important thing to remember is that you receive the good dental health you deserve. Each one may save you money while possibly preventing certain health risks.
Why Is it Important for Seniors to Have Dental Insurance?
Most people think of their teeth in an aesthetical way (how they look). However, seniors should also consider how teeth help them to eat and if they are causing any pain. Looking at our overall oral health and having a preventative plan can help us eliminate unwanted procedures or treatments to our teeth. After all, our mouths are known as a major source of bacteria, which may work to our own benefit. Our mouths are also the entry point to the digestive and respiratory systems in our bodies; meaning, if left untreated, infections can develop.
Similar to regular health insurance, dental insurance providers will offer seniors a list of different benefit plans, a community network, copays, and monthly premiums. They may also disclose other out-of-pocket costs, if need be. Hey also list the services they offer. This includes routine checkups and cleanings. Some procedures, such as root canals, fillings, extractions, and dentures (prosthodontics) may also be partly covered. Usually, the patient must pay a certain percentage of the total cost, whether it be 50/50, 20/80, or other arrangements. Other benefits can also be a part of the insurance plan, such as bundling with a vision insurance provider as a supplemental coverage with your health coverage provider.
Can Seniors Receive Dental Discount Cards?
Yes, for some. How this works is that the participant will pay an annual fee, instead of the monthly premiums which regular cardholders do. The discount plan provides a cardholder with special discounts or reduced prices on certain dental procedures or treatments. It’s sort of like a savings plan for those who either can’t afford dental insurance themselves or are looking for a way to just save money on dental work. These dental discount cards can also give customers a limited list of providers to choose from. Medical/dental Practitioners who participate in the savings plan agree to reduce the costs for specific procedures, helping to ease the financial pain for individuals such as low-income patients. As a reminder, the dental discount cards are not insurance, nor do they replace good dental insurance providers. Payments made by using these discount card plans go directly to the dentists or dental team.