Getting Dental and Vision Insurance: A Senior’s Guide

dental and vision insurance

As we age, dental and vision care are both important areas that we may need to look into. But studies show 70% of Medicare beneficiaries who have oral problems haven’t visited a dentist for over a year and 43% of them who have trouble seeing haven’t gone to an eye specialist.  Sometimes people avoid a doctor out of fear, but more often, it’s because of payment. They just think it’s too expensive to warrant the visit, and so neglect and complacency set in.

Do seniors need dental and vision insurance? Many do, certainly. A regular oral and eye exam will help you know and prevent early signs of oral and eye infections, as well as other health problems, including more serious conditions. There are many different dental and vision plans for seniors to keep their teeth and eyes healthy. Some of these are true “insurance”, and some are “discount plans”. Each has their place.

Dental and Vision Plans for Medicare Beneficiaries

Original Medicare (Part A and B) doesn’t cover routine dental and vision care. However, Medicare Part A or B will help you with dental and vision services in certain situations. Medicare Part A will cover emergency dental procedures while you are in the hospital. On the other hand, Medicare Part B will help you out with your vision needs like eye exams for glaucoma or macular degeneration, and cataract surgery.

dental vision plans
Regular dental care is necessary for good health. Dental insurance can help.

Will Medicare Advantage Plans Cover Dental or Vision?

Many times, yes. Medicare Advantage (Part C) is sold by private companies that provide all the services and benefits of Original Medicare, but sometimes go a step further and offer supplemental benefits like dental and vision. They are sometimes also referred to as “all-in-one” plans as they also include other benefits like prescription drug coverage, hearing coverage, gym memberships, etc.

Do Medigap Plans Cover Dental or Vision?

The Medigap Plans (Medicare Supplements), also sold by private companies, help cover costs where Original Medicare leaves off such as coinsurance, copays, and deductibles. Medigap plans typically do not cover routine dental or eye care for seniors, however, more and more plans seem to be including it these days as an ancillary benefit. It may not be entirely obvious either, so scroll through your plan documents, keep your eyes open for mail your plan sends you, and check their websites to see if you see any mention of it. The coverage may not be great, but you also may be surprised at how much it gets your total bill down at the dentist.

What are Stand-Alone Dental and Vision Plans for Seniors?

There are a lot of stand-alone dental and vision plans that are sold by private health insurance companies like Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare. This is just Dental and/or Vision coverage and is not attached to a Medicare plan. Getting a standalone plan ensures that you will get the type of dental and vision care you need because you can really sort through the plans to select what you feel will be most appropriate for your needs. 

Dental Plans for seniors include preventive benefits, oral surgery, fillings for cavities, endodontics, diagnostics, periodontics, and prosthodontics. Vision plans include basic eye exams, corrective contact and eyeglass lenses, and eyeglass frames. However, plans may vary depending on your insurance company and location.

To get the best Dental and Vision plans that suit your needs at a price you can afford, it is better to seek help from a licensed insurance agent before purchasing not only for your dental and vision plans but any insurance plan that you want to select. It doesn’t cost any more to use an agent than it does going directly to the company, and their insight can help you avoid costly errors or the possibility that you may have overlooked what may be in your best interest.