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Understanding the Pros and Cons of Standard Dental Insurance, Discount Dental Plans, and Medicare Advantage in Lake Katrine
Although our risk for dental issues and need for dental services increases as we get older, our options for affordable dental benefits decease once we turn 65 or retire. Despite the lack of benefit options, seniors still account for a significant portion of dental spending in the United States. For example:
- Dental spending by seniors amounted to nearly $30 billion in 2016.
- According to the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, the number of seniors visiting a dentist during the year increased by 6 million between 2006 and 2016.
- The growth rate of dental spending is increasing faster among seniors than any other population group. Experts believe that this trend is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The following are a few ways in which seniors can reduce the financial burden of a visit to the dentist and obtain dental benefits in Lake Katrine.
Without standalone dental insurance or other benefits, even basic dental services can be a significant financial burden for seniors. Cost is likely one reason why only half of Medicare recipients see a dentist each year. For example, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that 19% of adults on Medicare who visited a dentist during the past year had out-of-pocket dental expenses in excess of $1,000. The following is what you can expect to pay for common dental procedures without dental benefits in Lake Katrine.
Checkups and Cleanings:
- Basic exam–$50 to $100
- Dental X-ray–$20 to $250
- Standard cleaning–$70 to $200
- Silver amalgam–$50 to $300
- Composite–$90 to $450
- Simple extraction–$75 to $450
- Surgical extraction–$150 to $650
- Wisdom tooth extraction–$75 to $3,000 based on the number and complexity of the extractions
The cost of a crown can range from $500 to $3,000 based on the type of material used.
The cost of a root canal can range from $300 to $2,000 based on the location of the tooth and the complexity of the procedure.
It is important to keep in mind that these prices can vary based on your location and the nature of your dental issue.
How Do I Choose Dental Benefits in Lake Katrine?
After turning 65 or leaving the workforce, approximately two-thirds of seniors are left without dental benefits. While traditional Medicare covers many basic medical expenses, it does not cover routine dental procedures. Under limited circumstances, Medicare Part A may cover a basic exam as long as it is required as part of another covered procedure. The lack of affordable dental benefits for seniors is only going to become a bigger problem in the coming years as more and more baby boomers retire or turn 65. Approximately 10% of seniors turn to standalone plans from private insurers for their dental coverage. Another 25% enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans.
Can I Get Comprehensive Dental Coverage Through Medicare Advantage?
If you are looking to expand your basic Medicare benefits to include vision, hearing, prescription drug, and dental services, then a Medicare supplement plan may be right for you. Medicare Advantage plans are optional add-ons to your traditional Medicare coverage. These plans are purchased from private insurers that reimburse health care providers directly for covered services. Humana, UHC, and Aetna are among the leading Medicare supplement providers. Since these plans are separate from your basic Medicare coverage, you will receive a separate ID card from the plan provider. In addition to the expanded benefits, you get access to a preapproved network of providers, low deductibles, and out-of-pocket spending caps for an average premium of around $420 per year. In most cases, the dental benefits are limited to cleanings, exams, and X-rays and may not be comprehensive enough for individuals with serious dental issues.
What Is the Average Cost of Standalone Dental Insurance?
According to Bankrate, the average standalone dental plan costs around $350 per year. This is slightly less than the average cost of a Medicare Advantage supplement; however, private dental plans normally do not come with hearing, vision, or prescription benefits. Most insurance providers allow customers to choose from among several levels of plans. Each level offers a different combination of covered services. The more comprehensive the coverage, the higher the premium.
Basic Dental Plans:
If you are primarily interested in coverage for prophylactic services, then a basic dental plan may be a good option for you. These plans typically cover routine exams and cleanings as well as standard X-rays.
Mid-Level Dental Plans:
Mid-level dental plans are normally not that much more expensive than basic plans and provide more benefits, such as:
- full and partial dentures,
- inhalation anesthesia,
- emergency dental treatments,
- specialized X-rays, and
Premium Dental Plans:
Premiums plans offer the most comprehensive coverage. You may want to invest in this type of plan if you anticipate needing any of the following:
- endodontic or periodontic procedures;
- oral surgery;
- crowns, inlays, onlays, or other types of dental restorations; or
It is also important to remember that most dental plans have a tiered benefit structure. This means that the percentage of the dental care cost that is covered varies based on the complexity of the service or procedure.
Do Dental Discount Plans Make Financial Sense?
A dental discount plan can be a viable alternative for many seniors. These plans are provided by private companies; however, they are not considered insurance. Instead of reimbursing the dentist for a covered service, the plan provider negotiates discounted rates with participating dentists on behalf of members. Members then pay the discounted fee directly to the dentist. The enrollment and monthly membership fees for a discount plan are typically far less than the cost of even a basic insurance plan. In addition, DentRite® and other popular discount plans also offer discounts for prescription drugs as well as hearing and vision services.
Although discount plans normally do not cover as much as traditional insurance, you can still save between 20% and 80% on a range of dental services, including fillings, dentures, extractions, root canals, crowns, standard X-rays, basic checkups, and routine cleanings.
Discount plans also offer more flexibility than traditional insurance plans. For example:
- You can change your dentist at any time during the year. You can also use your benefits while traveling as long as there is a participating dentist nearby.
- There are no mandatory waiting periods before you can use your benefits.
- Your acceptance is guaranteed even if you have preexisting conditions.
- You can use your benefits as many times as you want during the year.
- You know exactly what you will be paying in advance. There are no deductibles or out-of-pocket fees.
- The discount is automatic, so you avoid the hassle of having to fill out mountains of paperwork.
- Most plans allow you to get a full refund if you cancel within 30 days.
Is Dental Care Financing a Good Alternative to Dental Insurance?
Spreading the cost of your dental treatment out over time can make financial sense in certain situations. Of course, you must meet income and credit criteria in order to qualify. CareCredit is one of the most popular financing options and is accepted by more than 200,000 providers and facilities nationwide. Depending on the amount owed, you may be able to spread payments over 24 to 60 months. Outside of special promotions, interest rates typically run between 15% and 20%, so you will end up paying significantly more for your treatment in the long run. If you do finance with a promotional interest rate, you do need to make sure that you pay the full balance before the promotion ends. Otherwise, the accrued interest will be added to your balance.
AARP and other senior advocacy groups often have resources to help seniors find affordable insurance options and discounts on various professional services.