For Agents: 4 Senior Dental Plan Solutions

October 11, 2023 |read icon 4 min read
Elderly couple laughing and enjoying coffee.

Americans today, on average, live longer than previous generations. If your senior clients live to age 65, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects they’ll make it another 19.5 years. Without a dental plan, seniors may have to dip into their retirement savings or use a credit card to pay dental costs.

As adults age, they often deal with the frustrations of unexpected medical issues. Common concerns are arthritis, cancer, diabetes, respiratory problems and obesity. Many seniors also struggle with oral health changes. After a lifetime of caring for their teeth, seniors are concerned about maintaining good dental health. Consider four senior dental plan solutions.

1. Dental in a Medicare plan – Since original Medicare plans do not cover routine dental exams, your senior clients may want to consider a Medicare Advantage plan. This plan option usually covers twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings. However, there may be restrictions on accepted dental providers, or no network savings options. A Medicare Advantage plan may offer limited help for other dental procedures, such as fillings, crowns, bridges or implants. Usually, seniors will need to pay these expenses out of pocket.

Also, if your clients switch Medicare Advantage plans, they may lose their previous benefits and have to start over.

2. Dental discount plan – Another option for senior clients is a dental discount plan, sometimes called a dental savings plan. A dental discount plan is not insurance but a type of membership plan. Members pay an annual fee instead of a monthly premium. They receive a dental discount card and visit a participating dentist to receive lower dental costs. However, some dentists may not accept the discount card.

Advise your clients to check with their dental provider to ensure they accept discount cards and offer lower rates on dental procedures.

3. Employer-sponsored dental coverage – Seniors who continue to work full time usually keep their employer-sponsored dental benefits for as long as possible. Employers tend to offer different types of dental coverage, so help your clients understand these differences:

  • Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)– This option provides members access to an extensive network of dental providers. PPO plans promote in-network dentists for the most savings because network providers agree to charge a reduced amount for covered dental procedures. Out-of-network benefits can vary.
  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) – DHMO dentists are paid monthly in return for providing their DHMO patients with covered dental services at no or low cost. Sometimes, a DHMO plan price is lower than a PPO plan. However, members can only visit a dentist in the approved network to receive coverage for dental care.
  • Indemnity insurance plan– Members can see any dentist and receive coverage with a traditional indemnity dental plan. These plans may cost more, but the benefits may be worth it. Members pay costs not covered by the plan at the dentist’s usual fee.

4. Individual dental plan – Most seniors plan to keep working past age 65. But, if they reduce their hours and work part time, they may no longer be eligible for employer-sponsored dental benefits. If you have senior clients in this situation, help them find the right individual dental plan.

With individual dental insurance, seniors will have coverage when they need it. They can immediately use the plan for preventive care and basic procedures. Major expenses, such as crowns, bridges or root canals may have a waiting period. Most plans also include access to dental network providers for added savings.

The cost of individual dental insurance is a relatively low monthly fee. It provides good value in terms of cost savings. Plus, seniors will have the security of knowing their plan will help pay for fillings, crowns and root canals. By scheduling regular preventive dental visits, seniors can avoid costly procedures or at least catch them early.

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