Dental Care in Medicare?

Dental care is expensive. So, it’s normal to look for ways to cut costs. Since Medicare helps with healthcare costs, does it cover dental care too? After all, oral health is a huge part of general wellness.

Medicare doesn’t cover most dental care procedures. And when it does, it’s to a minimal extent. Find out what Medicare covers and ways you can save dental care costs.

 What Is Medicare?

Medicare is a health insurance program that helps people save cost on healthcare bills. It provides coverage for a part of their medical expenses. People older than 65 and certain young people living with disabilities can take advantage of this program.

If you meet the initial requirements, you can access it after 24 months of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. If you’re living with a specific disability, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) or chronic renal failure, you’d automatically qualify for Medicare health insurance.

The Medicare program is free but offers less coverage than commercial health insurance. Your dependents, like your spouse and children, can get coverage under private health insurance. Medicare doesn’t provide medical coverage for your family.

What Benefits Does Medicare Offer?

Medicare has four plans covering different medical conditions. With some plans, you’ll have to cover specific fees. Other plans cover most of the bills. You’ll find a summarized version of the Medicare program below: 

1. Part A: Inpatient Coverage 

This policy covers hospital inpatient care. If you meet specific requirements, Part A also covers hospice care, nursing home care, and home health care. You won’t have to pay monthly premiums as long as you’ve paid Medicare taxes throughout your working years. 

2. Part B: Outpatient Coverage 

The type of Medicare coverage, known as Part B, covers medical and preventive care services. So, you can use this plan to access flu vaccines or chiropractic care for back problems. You must be a citizen of the United States or have had a green card for at least five years to qualify.

3. Part C: Medicare Advantage

The Part C policy, also called the Medicare Advantage, is offered and handled by commercial insurers. However, before insurers can advertise any Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare must approve them.

4. Part D: Drug Prescription Coverage 

You can get the Part D plan to access prescription medication coverage in exchange for a monthly premium. You’ll have to pay this premium in addition to payment for other Medicare plans you may have. The coverage you get from a Part D plan is determined by the price, prescription formula, and insurance company you choose.

Enrollment for Part D Medicare plan runs from October 15 to December 7 every year. During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, you can add, switch or drop your Part D Medicare plan.

Does Medicare Cover Dental Care?

Medicare covers a wide range of medical expenses. However, it doesn’t cover dental care procedures. In limited cases, Medicare might cover preventive dental procedures like cleanings and fillings. But, generally speaking, the answer is no; Medicare doesn’t cover dental care.

If you need any of the following services, Medicare won’t pay for your procedure or reimburse you:

  • Deep cleaning
  • Flossing
  • Teeth Whitening
  • Routine dental checks
  • Tooth fillings
  • Tooth extraction

In some cases, Medicare might pay for your dental care. These instances include:

  • A general oral exam before the replacement of a heart valve 
  • Dental exams before an organ transplant 
  • Routine checks before surgical procedures to treat fractures around the jaw 
  • A health-threatening condition that requires you to be monitored during a dental process.

While Medicare may pay for these initial dental services, once the underlying medical condition has been treated, it will not cover any additional dental care. For instance, Medicare might pay for your tooth extraction if you were in a car accident and required it as part of surgery to repair a facial injury. But it won't cover any additional dental care you might need in the future, even if it’s as a result of the tooth extraction.

Are There Any Dental Care Alternatives?

In the United States, some insurance providers offer discounts and cover some dental procedures. But, they don’t make a significant difference in helping you save costs.

If you’re signed up on Medicare but need certain dental care services, there are other options for you to consider. Some of these options are: 

1. Dental Schools or Institutions 

Some communities and dental schools provide dental care for free or at a reduced cost. You can also find neighborhood dental clinics that charge based on your income.

For example, the University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry gives discounts on dental services ranging from routine annual exams to pricey implants. And these are rarely covered by insurance coverage. The schools of dentistry at the Universities of Minnesota, Iowa, and the Ohio State College of Dentistry also give similar discounts.

2. Discount Plans 

A dental discount plan is an easy way to save considerable money on dental care. In return for a monthly or annual fee, these membership programs give you discounts on procedures at participating dentists.

3. Routine Dental Checkups 

Routine dental checkups are much less expensive than surgical and sophisticated procedures. Also, you can quickly identify any problems before they get complicated. This way, you can avoid high dental care costs.

4. Preventive Care 

Maintaining good oral hygiene will help you avoid dental costs altogether. So, if you want to enjoy good oral health without worrying about the cost of dental procedures, brush, floss, and clean your mouth regularly. Also, consider reducing the intake of foods that can stain your teeth or cause other complications.

Alternative to Save on Dental Procedures

You need good oral care to keep your smile attractive and your mouth healthy. Unfortunately, the high costs of dental procedures are challenging. And you’ll need alternatives because dental insurance is usually not the best fit.

With a Carefree Dental membership, you can get 15-50%* off your dental bill at participating providers per visit in most instances. For only $15.95/month for individuals and $19.95/month for families, that’s a lot of savings on dental care, even if you qualify for Medicare.

Sign up for Carefree Dental to save on your next visit to the dentist!

*Actual costs and savings vary by provider, service, and geographical area.

The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance, and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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