Discount Dental Plans for Seniors
If you’re 65 or over and need to see a dentist, you’ve probably discovered something shocking: neither Original Medicare nor Medigap supplemental policies cover dental work. And while Medicare Advantage plans sometimes do offer dental coverage, this is often limited to the basics such as cleanings, exams, and x-rays. This means that seniors seeking dental coverage are often placed in the untenable situation of either buying a standalone dental policy with its accompanying deductible, co-pays, and benefit cap or paying for services out of their own pocket.
Both of these choices can be a problem, and many seniors choose to forego dental work altogether. But there’s a third option which addresses both the limits of dental insurance and the expense of paying out of pocket: the discount dental plan.
What is a discount dental plan?
The concept behind discount dental plans is simple: Consumers join the discount program, and the company offering the plan negotiates with dental providers on behalf of their customers, much as insurance companies do. In return for referrals, participating providers agree to offer their services to the plan’s customers at a discounted rate.
How are discount dental plans different from dental insurance?
Unlike insurance, discount dental plans do not pay the provider on your behalf — you pay the provider’s fees out of pocket. However, depending on the plan you choose, these fees may be discounted by anywhere from 10% to 60%. With the Smile Program, for example, discounts are typically around 40%. This is comparable to your out of pocket expenses with many dental insurance plans, but without the added expense of monthly premiums or deductibles.
Depending on your needs, discount dental plans offer several benefits which insurance does not:
- They’re less expensive than dental insurance
- There are no waiting periods
- Pre-existing conditions are not a problem
- There are no deductibles
- There’s no limit on how often you can see a dentist
- There is no maximum benefit allowance per year
- They cover a wider range of services
- Many plans cover elective services typically not covered by insurance
How much do discount dental plans cost?
While the Smile Program doesn’t charge a membership fee — the program comes at no cost to the consumer — most discount dental plans do. This membership fee varies from program to program, but on average fees run about $100 per year for individuals or $150 for families.
What do discount dental plans for seniors cover?
There is no universal schedule of covered services, so check the details of your plan before signing up. However, discount dental plans typically cover not only basic preventive services such as exams and cleanings and basic services such as fillings or extractions, but also major services such as crowns and bridges. Many plans also cover dentures, cosmetic services such as tooth whitening, and even dental implants.
What sets Smile Program apart?
At Smile Program, we believe that everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality dental care. That’s why we only partner with 5-star providers who do major work on a daily basis. Unlike other discount dental plans, we don’t charge a membership fee, nor do we offer differing levels of service at different price points. Every member can expect superior service, including a no-cost initial assessment including x-rays or CT scan.
Good dental care is an important component of overall health, especially for seniors. A dental discount plan can fill the gap between too little coverage (Medicare) and an overly expensive insurance policy.