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
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.