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Senior Dental Plans – The Insider’s Guide
In the year 2010, Americans paid out of pocket for nearly half of all their dental expenses. People over 65 paid even more of that amount more than three-fourths of their expenses. Only 10% of the elderly did not pay out of pocket for their dental care. Given that many elderly people are on fixed incomes, this figure is troubling. For people who had a dental visit in that year around 42% of the US population expenses were around $480. This is only an average, of course. Individual expenses vary greatly. To avoid paying large amounts of money out of pocket for dental care, seniors in America need to be aware of their dental insurance options.
Many companies offer dental plans specifically for seniors. HMO plans offer low cost insurance for people over 65, although they may be limited in options. You should check what dentists and procedures are covered in your area before signing any dental insurance plan, but especially an HMO plan. AARP members may be eligible for group coverage through their membership. This is beneficial because it allows seniors to get the better rates offered to members of group plans. The AARP Dental Insurance Plan targets people who lose or have lost dental coverage when they retire. Instead of paying out of pocket, you have the option to continue coverage with this plan. The first twelve months have limited coverage of procedures, but after that, the plan expands to also cover major restoration, periodontics, and dentures. The AARP Dental Insurance plan is only offered in 48 states (plus the District of Columbia). This means that most seniors will be eligible, but you should check to see if it is offered in your state.
Traditional individual dental plans are also available. They run about $40 to $50 per month for the average payer. Your rate will vary, depending on the plan and company you choose. These plans offer more flexibility than HMOs, but you have to pay for the privilege. If you need to be able to choose your dentist, or need more coverage, a traditional dental plan might be the best thing. Companies that offer traditional dental plans still often have special plans tailored to seniors. Try asking your insurance agent about your options.
Dental insurance is important for everyone who has regular dental expenses. To prevent big dental problems, you should have an appointment for a check up and cleaning once a year. People who aren’t insured are less likely to do this, and will rack up bigger, out of pocket dental expenses later. With most seniors not covered, the dental health of people over 65 is at risk. Look into the many options for dental insurance in your area. Whether you choose an HMO or a traditional plan, it’s better to be covered than to pay out of pocket for surprise dental expenses.