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When you retired, you may have lost access to a dental plan you enjoyed for years through your previous employer. Many seniors rely on Medicare for their health care coverage with over 60 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2020¹, but Traditional Medicare typically doesn’t cover dental care. As a result, about 60% of seniors over the age of 65 don’t have dental insurance.²
It may be challenging to find affordable dental insurance independently, leaving many seniors unable to afford the dental and periodontal care they may need.
Regular dental care is important for everyone, but it’s particularly important for seniors. People over 65 are at an increased for oral health problems, such as gum disease³, and without dental insurance, you might find yourself putting off treatment. Advancing age can bring all kinds of dental and periodontal (gum) issues, many of which need proper treatment to prevent further health issues that may result from them.
Supplemental dental insurance is called supplemental because it’s designed as additional to the coverage that any person insured may have. Dental insurance providers offer plans that have the dental coverage that seniors on Medicare may need. Most dental insurance plans cover preventive services at up to 100% so seniors don’t have to pay out-of-pocket at all for regular dental cleanings, such as X-rays, or regular exams.
Depending on the plan that you choose, and the coverage provided by that plan you may only have to pay a portion of the cost of major dental services like crowns, root canals, or implants. For seniors on fixed incomes, dental insurance can make it possible to get major dental work done without having to go into debt or go without dental care that they might need. Guardian Direct® dental insurance plans have and guaranteed acceptance, no waiting period for oral exams, cleanings, and x-rays, so you can get dental care you need* With affordable monthly premiums and a large nationwide network of providers.
Medicare coverage is divided into four parts: Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Medicare parts A and B usually combine to make up what most people think of as Traditional Medicare coverage. Medicare Part A typically covers hospital expenses if you need to be admitted to a hospital for medical treatment because of an illness or accident. It also typically covers some services related to hospital care, like having a nurse at home during recovery after a surgery. Medicare Part B covers doctor visits, preventive services, and some home health visits. Some people assume that Medicare Part B covers dental care because it covers certain preventative services but Medicare Part B doesn’t typically cover any type of dental care⁴. You can find out more about what Medicare Parts A and B cover here.
Medicare Part A and Part B is the type of Medicare coverage that seniors typically have. Dental coverage is not a part of Medicare, although if a senior needs dental care because of an accident or an emergency Medicare will usually pay for that treatment.
It may seem strange to many people that vision and dental care are not provided by Traditional Medicare but when the Medicare system was set up it was created as a safety net to help seniors get the medical care they needed and vision and dental care weren’t considered to be essential. Of course, now it’s well-documented that vision and dental care are essential for everyone, especially for seniors, but Traditional Medicare coverage hasn’t been updated to include vision and dental care yet. Until that happens seniors need supplemental dental insurance to make sure that they can get dental care. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage Plans can also provide additional benefits that Original Medicare does not cover, such as routine vision or dental care. Visit https://www.medicare.gov/ for more detail about Medicare.
Supplemental insurance is designed as additional to the coverage that a senior may already have through Medicare. It’s an add on that supplements a senior’s existing medical coverage. Seniors can buy supplemental dental and vision insurance directly from companies like Guardian Direct which gives them more flexibility when choosing the coverage that works for them. With more affordable options for dental care, it’s easier for seniors to find coverage that works with their limited budgets.
Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, is private insurance⁵. It’s a for-purchase type of Medicare plan that you need to pay for, but you can purchase it to cover some vision and dental care as well as some other types of services that aren’t typically covered under Medicare Parts A and B. Medicare Part C may have some dental and vision coverage as well as some coverage for hearing services and limited prescription drug savings plans⁶.
Because Medicare Part C typically offers limited dental coverage many seniors might benefit from purchasing supplemental dental insurance from a company like Guardian Direct which allows them to choose a plan that with the coverage they may need. Premium costs may be slightly higher when choosing a private insurance plan, but any out-of-pocket expenses will be lower which is important for seniors with limited or fixed incomes. For more information on Medicare, please visit www.medicare.gov.
Dentures, crowns, and root canals are common dental procedures that seniors may need. And because Medicare Part C typically doesn’t provide any coverage for these types of treatments supplemental insurance might be an option for seniors. Tooth loss can impact your quality of life and losing teeth may leave you more vulnerable to infections, which if untreated may be life-threatening.
No one wants to have a root canal, and the typical high cost of a root canal can make it even more unappealing. But unfortunately, root canals are sometimes necessary. Dental insurance can’t make a root canal any more pleasant, but it can help defray the cost of the procedure.
Medicare Parts A and B are excellent options for seniors who need hospital care or medical care, however, for dental and vision, individual dental insurance through Guardian Direct might be a more affordable option for seniors to receive comprehensive care and a large network from which to choose a provider that they trust. For more information on Medicare, please visit www.medicare.gov.
Get more answers to your Medicare supplemental dental insurance questions, as well as useful insurance information, tips, and resources.
* Coverage begins on the first of the month following enrollment. Dental provider networks vary by state, by market and by plan type.
Links to external sites are provided for your convenience in locating related information and services. Guardian, its subsidiaries, agents and employees expressly disclaim any responsibility for and do not maintain, control, recommend, or endorse third-party sites, organizations, products, or services and make no representation as to the completeness, suitability, or quality thereof.
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice and is not intended to influence any reader’s decision to select, enroll in or disenroll from a Medicare plan. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.
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https://www.medicare.gov/sign-up-change-plans/types-of-medicare-health-plans/medicare-advantage-plans/how-do-medicare-advantage-plans-work, accessed January 2021
Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.(exp.12/22)
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