Dental Insurance for older Americans is being limited - All About Dental, Pet, Health and Motorcycle Insurance

Dental Insurance for older Americans is being limited

Meta: Medicare, which supplies health insurance coverage to older Americans, usually doesn’t cover dental insurance. Have an insight into this problem here!


For most old retired people not in the labor force anymore, the only source for dental insurance is either spousal coverage or post-retirement health benefits.

Moreover, despite the importance of dental care, there is still the lack of this type of insurance for older Americans.

As a result, fewer people in this cohort visit dentist and many of them are even left with high bills. This problem is now worth noticing!

Dental insurance for seniors is a current notable issu

The current issue

According to a study of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, when it comes to Medicare beneficiaries, just 12 percent of elderly Americans get the dental care, and fewer than half have a dental visit.

Besides, in an analysis of Medicare data in 2012, the status of insurance seems to be the main predictor of whether a patient has oral health care.

Particularly, 27 percent with incomes only over the federal poverty threshold and also without dental insurance visited the dentist in the year before, compared to 65 percent with insurance.

Moreover, about 74 percent of low-income beneficiaries are reported to receive no dental care. About high-income beneficiaries including ones with dental insurance, they still have to pay a large portion of bills out of their pocket.

Generally, the published findings, in the Health Affairs’s December issue, show a large need for dental insurance for older adults in the USA.

They’re at risk of oral health issues such as gum disease, tooth decay or loss of teeth, which can be treated or prevented with proper dental care.

The financial burden related to dental visits, among uninsured and insured people, is also a big issue here.

The dental insurance importance

When adults age, they still retain a greater mean number of teeth, which increases the dental needs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in five Medicare beneficiaries, at least one doesn’t have her, or his original teeth left.

Dental needs among seniors are increasing

Additionally, poor dental hygiene may lead to gum disease. Moreover, the same bacteria related to this disease is also linked to pneumonia- a serious risk of death.

Also, it can make patients hard in eating, swallowing or even speaking and other health challenges.
On the other side, most pharyngeal and oral cancers are diagnosed mainly among older Americans.

However, these people get difficulties when their capacity to access dental care is limited due to retirement and the loss of dental coverage or income. Thus, dental insurance, in this case, is actually important.

Another aspect

As estimated, 80 percent of Americans under 65 years old are covered by employer-sponsored programs. These provide dental insurance that covers costs for cleanings, fillings or other dental work.
Anyway, many of those lose that coverage when retiring or going on Medicare. Most Medicare beneficiaries with dental insurance are just ones who are covered by employer-sponsored insurance.
That happens only when they keep working or they are in the ever-dwindling group with extremely generous retiree dental and medical benefits.

Dental care for the elderly should be affordable
Besides, in the findings of Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey 2012 Cost and Use data, Medicare beneficiaries generally spent $427 on dental services over the year before, and 77 percent of that was out-of-pocket spending.

An estimated, seven percent spent more than $1,500. Dental expenses give a reason for 14 percent of out-of-pocket spending of Medicare beneficiaries.

In addition, as the transition to Medicare is incompletely responsible for decreasing levels of seniors’ dental insurance coverage, the loss of employer-based insurance coverage while retiring also leads to dental uninsurance.

Before reaching the Medicare eligibility at 65, more than half aren’t working full-time anymore. After retiring, most laborers don’t have access to health benefits, and dental coverage may not be included in the benefit packages.

For this problem, according to Amber Willink in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School, Medicare is focused on physical health requirements, but not oral health needs.

That’s the main reason why about 49 million Medicare beneficiaries in the USA don’t get dental insurance.

Obviously, with fewer retiree health policies covering dental benefits, we need more cost-effective solutions for this issue. Otherwise, everything’s going to be more expensive for everyone.

Proposals and related issues

Though chances for retirees to get dental insurance are limited, some of them still have the choice of continuing or buying post-retirement health insurance as a way to extend their employer-based insurance plans.

Furthermore, researchers also took two different proposals into account for embedding dental care into Medicare.

The former is like the voluntary Medicare Part D benefit that was used to be added to Medicare to cover prescription drugs for the old.

The latter is like a proposal introduced in Congress that would take dental benefit into Medicare as the main policy for all 56 million beneficiaries of the program.

In case the costs become higher for Medicare beneficiaries, they may lose their wealth and end up on Medicaid, the insurance for the poor that the government fully pays for.

Besides, we need to explore the coverage type as well as coverage dynamics of elderly Americans when transitioning from full-time work to retirement.

Understanding those will help to predict the tendency of pent-up demand or delayed dental care among the near-elderly group.

Likewise, we should understand the relationship between dental coverage and retirement to identify the effective ways of improving oral health and access to dental care among older cohorts.


The seniors are struggling whereas the Medicare’s current benefits structure isn’t adapting their real needs.

Thus, more right solutions are necessary for the event of limited dental insurance for older adults; otherwise, everything’s going to be much more expensive for everybody.