Cost of Retiree Dental Plans May Give You a Toothache

Boomers retiring without dental benefits, and Medicare recipients who don’t have a Medicare Advantage plan, may be surprised and dismayed by the latest study on the cost of dental coverage.

Man at DentistConsumers paid an average $382 annual premium for a stand-alone dental plan through a government exchange this year, and that didn’t include deductibles and copays, according to the analysis of dental plans on the federal exchange by the website HealthPocket, which compares health plans.

Deductibles averaged about $500 a year and copays averaged an annual $536 for basic services like cleanings and checkups, the study said. [Click here for its ratings of the best and worst insurers for out-of-pocket costs.]

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Dental coverage in the individual marketplace is sold in two ways: as part of a health plan or as a separate, stand-alone plan.

For older adults, access to affordable dental care has been an ongoing challenge. Medicare doesn’t cover dental care and treatment except in rare circumstances. And according to a recent report by the group Oral Health America, only about 10 percent of boomers retire with employer-provided dental benefits.

Meanwhile, the risk for dental disease increases with age. About 23 percent of people ages 65 to 74 have severe gum disease, which may put them at increased risk for heart disease or complicate other medical problems like diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

More than 70 percent of Medicare Advantage plans across the U.S. offer some form of dental benefits. Medicare supplement plans (also known as Medigap plans) typically don’t provide dental coverage, HealthPocket said.

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If you’re a Medicare beneficiary who’s considering purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan or a stand-alone dental plan, you may want to ask about plan limitations such as an annual cap on insurance payments for dental benefits. You also want to make sure your dentist accepts that insurance, HealthPocket said.

If you have trouble paying for dental care, contact the Dental Lifeline Network, a nonprofit that provides access to dental care for those who can’t afford it, to see if a program is available in your area. Also consider going to your local dental schools for treatment. They typically offer reduced-rate care.

Photo: Alvarez/istock


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balooga 5pts

Perhaps it's time for retirees to organize ourselves around the issue of affordable dentistry.  I'm not sure where to start with that, but those of us of like mind need to identify and develop an avenue through which to create some change. If a lot of people each contribute some time and effort, we could launch a viable movement.  Anyone interested?

jb64897165 5pts

The whole issue of senior dental care has always been avoided.  The real issue of not being able

to go to a dentist or get dental care is NOT the cost of dental insurance but the cost of the DEDUCTIBLE which has always been a burden IGNORED by every entity discussing the lack of

dental care for seniors and why they dont get treatment.  Amazing that AARP has not addressed or even initiated a proposal to the Florida Politicians to create a program for those over 60.  This proposal would be to eliminate the DEDUCTIBLE as long they senior held some kind of reasonable dental insuance.  Why hasn't this been done.  Many years ago when AARP was initiated they weren't afraid to begin a program such as this and work tirelessly to see it's

fruition, not anymore it seems.