Five Ways to Get Affordable Dental Care
If you’re new to Medicare and you need dental work, don’t count on Medicare to cover the bill. Neither routine dental care nor dentures are covered as basic benefits under Medicare. You may have dental coverage through insurance offered by a former employer or union, but even if you do, most people still pay a big chunk of the bill out-of-pocket. Here are five ways to lower your dental costs.
1. Look for low-cost dental providers. Shop around in your area for dentists who provide services to patients who lack insurance, and who have pricing on a sliding scale, meaning rates are set according to your income. To find dentists, check your local branch of the United Way to learn if there are local agencies or programs that might refer you to low-cost dental providers.
2. Ask if discounts are available. Many dentists commonly see patients who have no dental insurance. Rather than turn away a paying patient, they may be inclined to help, if you ask. Tell the dentist about your lack of insurance and your financial situation and negotiate your bill ahead of time. It may help to visit during slow periods to improve your chances. Be willing to pay at the time of service.
3. Watch for free dental treatment days. In many areas of the country dentists donate their time and equipment for a day to provide free dental treatment to those who can’t otherwise afford it. Such events often set up in local community locations like high school gymnasiums or local fire stations. Services are often first come, first served, so be prepared to get there very early (3am in some locations) — and to spend time in line. To find free dental clinics contact your local Area Agency on Aging or call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.
4. Check dental discount plans. Dental discount plans are NOT the same thing as insurance, but they may help save you money on dental procedures. Participating dentists agree to offer their services at discounted fees. When you enroll in a plan you pay an annual membership fee for access to the network of dentists. Before enrolling in any discount dental plan, find out what dentists in your area participate, and call to confirm that he or she is still doing so. The plans advertise savings of 10% to as much as 60% off most dental procedures, so when you call, ask about the savings you might expect to get. Compare that cost with what you expect to pay without a membership to determine if the plan would save you money. One of the most well known websites to compare dental plans is DentalPlans.com. TSCL members get a 10% discount off their annual dental discount plan’s membership fee.
5. Look for a Medicare Advantage plan that offers some dental services. Although Medicare doesn’t cover routine dental services or dentures under the basic package of benefits, some Medicare Advantage plans in your area may offer dental coverage as an additional benefit. It may be included with the monthly premium you pay for your plan, or you may be charged an additional premium. You can compare Medicare Advantage plans online at www.Medicare.gov any time. Open enrollment starts October 15 and runs through December 7th when you can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans.