Dental Insurance for Boomers—Don't Retire Your Oral Health
As you reach age 65, there are plenty of details to consider—for starters, establishing
a comfortable savings for retirement and setting up Medicare. While dental insurance may not be your biggest concern, it is
an important consideration as you plan for your retirement years. No matter what
your age, taking care of your mouth matters.
Caring for your teeth
Oral health is intrinsically linked to overall health according to numerous studies.
Advanced gum disease, known as periodontis, has been associated with more serious
health problems such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and bacterial pneumonia.
This is not to say that one causes the other; however, the presence
of one may indicate a higher risk for the other.
Just as it is important to continue routine brushing and flossing, you should also
visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can address age-specific oral health
concerns such as cavities, sensitivity, gingivitis, dry mouth and tooth decay. Dentists
can also assist you with issues related to dentures and offer guidance on other
age-related issues such as how to brush with arthritic pain.
Continuing dental coverage
You may be tempted to forego dental insurance if you are on a fixed budget, but
with relatively low premiums compared to other types of insurance, dental coverage
can help you save money in the long run.
While dental insurance does not guarantee perfect oral health, those with dental
insurance see the dentist more often and are more likely to receive the preventive
that helps avoid more serious oral health issues. Plus, when and if major services
are needed, having insurance can assist with high-cost procedures that can be especially
cumbersome on someone on a retirement budget.
Choosing a plan
When shopping for dental insurance for seniors, be cautious and read the fine print.
Many plans marketed toward baby boomers are discount plans, not fully insured plans
like those you may have received through an employer.
Discount plans are exactly
as they sound; they are plans that offer savings on dental procedures through participating
providers. You pay those providers directly for all of their services and also pay
the discount plan a monthly membership fee.
With a fully insured individual dental plan, you pay a monthly premium and, depending
on your plan, deductible, copay and/or coinsurance. Your dental insurance company
pays participating providers for covered services.
There are competitively priced, well-designed individual dental plans that are on
par with most employer plans and stack up favorably to better-than-average individual
plans. Often these are not senior-only plans, but the same plans sold to people
of all ages with higher coinsurance percentages for preventive care and lower coinsurance
percentages for pricier benefits such as crowns and root canals.
Dental plans tend to be fairly straightforward, but you may read more about purchasing the perfect plan before shopping around.