Senior Dental Insurance and Discount Dental Plans – Pros and Cons
Senior dental insurance is a topic that always comes to mind when it comes to oral health for the elderly. This is because senior citizens living on fixed incomes will always need to find ways to save on expensive oral care costs like root extractions, root canals, dentures, and restorations.
As you get older, there is a greater need for more visits to the dentist since failure to care for your teeth will almost always negatively impact your other body systems. Heart disease, lung problems, and even dementia are just some of the health consequences that result from tooth loss resulting from poor oral hygiene, and they are major reasons why dental insurance for seniors is so important.
There are basically two types of senior dental insurance plans that you can take advantage of:
- Managed care plans
- Discount dental plans
Managed care dental insurance plans can either come from Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs). The main difference between these two types of senior insurance coverage is that a PPO allows you flexibility to choose your own dentist while an HMO requires you to choose from the dentists accredited by your HMO plan.
Discount dental plans, meanwhile, are not really senior dental insurance plans. Rather, they provide discounted rates for most dental procedures and doctor’s fees when you obtain a monthly or annual membership.
If you’re still in the process of choosing your senior dental insurance coverage, read on to understand the advantages and disadvantages of managed care plans and discount dental plans.
Senior Dental Insurance – Advantages of Managed Care Plans
- Senior dental insurance obtained from Preferred Provider Organizations and Health Maintenance Organizations are quite common because of their affordability and flexibility. PPOs give you the chance to use the services of your own dentist. While HMOs restrict you to the dentists within their network, the networks are usually quite large and they have dentists in most areas.
- Some managed care plans provide other perks like family discount options and considerable annual benefit limits at very reasonable premiums.
- They are very handy to have when you need to have costly dental procedures like root canals and other surgeries.
- Out-of-the-pocket costs are often minimal and still reimbursable.
- Great discounts are usually provided to senior citizens.
Senior Dental Plans – Disadvantages of Managed Care Plans
- The claims process can be quite lengthy and the paperwork extensive. Claimants often need to wait for months before they can get reimbursed.
- Those who have purchased dental plans for seniors under HMOs sometimes get the feeling that they are rushed. This is probably because HMO dentists get paid per batch and as such, they have to meet a certain number of clients per day to collect their professional fees from the HMOs.
- They usually do not cover cosmetic dental procedures like veneers, teeth whitening and bonding.
- There is usually a waiting period before you can take advantage of the full benefits of your senior dental insurance plan.
Dental Plans for Seniors – Advantages of Discount Dental Plans
- Discount plans are very easy to use. You can even apply online, print out the membership card, and visit your dentist in three days — the average time it will take for your membership to be activated. Because these are discount dental plans, you will receive anywhere from a ten percent to sixty percent discount on most dental care services.
- There are no preexisting condition exclusions before you are granted membership, unlike traditional senior dental insurance plans.
- There is no lengthy paperwork to fill out for reimbursement purposes as there will be no claims filed. You will be paying your discounted portion of the bill after each visit, eliminating the hassle of filing a claim.
- You can use your discount dental plan as often as you like since there are no limits as long as your membership is active. More importantly, if your senior dental insurance coverage maxes out at $1,500 for a certain procedure, you can even use your discount dental plans to further reduce your out-of-the-pocket expenses. Be sure to talk with your dentist if you plan on doing this.
- It covers cosmetic dentistry procedures like teeth whitening and veneers that are usually not covered with traditional discount dental plans.
- Some discount dental plans also offer vision and hearing discounts together with their dental discounts, further enhancing the value of a discount dental plan.
- Discount dental plans are highly affordable, and you can get an individual discount dental plan for as low as $80 per year.
Dental Insurance for Senior Citizens – Disadvantages of Discount Dental Plans
- You will have to utilize the services of a dentist covered by your dental plan. If you have a personal dentist, it would be worth your while to ask what discount dental plan he or she accepts so you can enroll in that particular plan.
- You will really need to have money available when you go to the dentist since you are going to be paying the remainder of the cost, unlike senior dental insurance plans that will still provide you with coverage even if you have no cash on hand.
Senior Dental Insurance Advice – Consider Buying Both Types of Coverage
Fortunately, senior dental insurance need not be a choice between a managed care plan and a discount dental plan. If you feel that your current dental coverage will not be enough to meet your needs, you can always get a discount dental plan just to be sure that you’re going to be sufficiently covered in the event of something major. Of course, this will depend greatly on your current financial situation and if you really need the extra coverage.
No matter what dental coverage you choose, it’s important that you get covered (especially when you are over 50 years of age). When you’re living on a fixed income and need dental work, it is often very expensive to pay for everything outright. Make sure you’re prepared for such occasions by getting a senior dental insurance policy or a discount dental plan that best fits your needs.