Dental Insurance

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How to Find Dental Insurance for Retirement

When Americans retire, they often cease eligibility for employer benefits packages, and when they turn 65, they enroll in Medicare. This federal health insurance program for older adults (and, in certain circumstances, some younger adults) may include hospital (Part A) and/or medical insurance (Part B), but it does not include traditional dental benefits1.

As more and more baby boomers plan for and enter retirement, they are wise to consider dental insurance. Seniors can enroll in many plans on the market. Here are some tips for finding the right dental insurance benefits for your oral health needs and retirement budget.

1. Assess your oral health needs

How is your dental health? What types of dental work have you needed in the past? What types of dental work do you anticipate needing in the future? Do you have dentures or expect you will need them?

Knowing how you plan to use dental insurance benefits can help ensure you get the right coverage. If you select a plan with a lower monthly premium and need a lot of dental work, it may fall short and result in high out-of-pocket spending. A more robust dental plan may have a higher monthly premium; however, it will likely cover a larger percentage of covered expenses.

2. Be aware that dental insurance and dental discount plans are not the same

Though they may save you some money, dental discount plans are not dental insurance plans. For a fee, dental discount plans provide access to reduced out-of-pocket rates when you receive certain dental services from participating providers. For a monthly premium, dental insurance provides specific dental benefits based on the plan you select. You share costs with the carrier, which pays the dental provider directly for covered services—with the exception of any copay due at the time of service. You then pay the carrier for any remaining balance. Click here to read more on the differences between dental discount and dental insurance plans.

3. Check exchange and non-exchange dental insurance options

Some state-based and federally facilitated exchanges in the Health Insurance Marketplace sell individual dental insurance plans for adults. Check your state’s exchange to determine what, if any, dental insurance options are available there. To find your state’s exchange website, visit HealthCare.gov/marketplace/individual and select where you live from the dropdown menu.

Then, determine what is available in the private marketplace. Check carrier websites (e.g., Delta Dental, IHC) and websites that provide information for multiple carriers and plans (e.g., dentalinsurance.org, healthpocket.com, ehealthinsurance.com). You may also check with a health insurance agent or broker to find out what plans are available in your area.

4. Get a quote

You can obtain a dental insurance quote online or through your agent or broker. A free online quote takes seconds. Dentalinsurance.org does not require you to provide any contact information or a Social Security number until you apply and enroll. By providing a few details such as your ZIP code, gender and date of birth, you can find what plans and rates are available to you, as well as your spouse.

5. Look at plan details

Narrow your dental insurance plan options down to a few that seem best suited to your oral health needs and budget. Read online brochures and other available marketing materials to learn specifics such as plan deductibles, lifetime limits, coinsurance amounts see a network provider, and additional perks such as a discount prescription drug card.

Oftentimes, dental insurance covers preventive care such as routine exams and cleanings at 100 percent. If that is important to you, make sure the plans you are considering do so.

6. Be sure your current dentist participates

If you have a preferred dentist you want to keep seeing, make sure he or she accepts the dental insurance you are about to buy. Sometimes carrier websites list participating providers; however, this information can be out of date. Be sure to call your dental clinic and ask.

7. Ask questions

If you are unclear about dental insurance terms, coverage details or anything else as you shop for a dental insurance plan, be sure to get answer to your questions before you buy. Maybe the term coinsurance has always confused you. Maybe it’s not clear if denture-related care is included. Or maybe you want to know up front if you will pay more for being older. (Many plans, including several sold at dentalinsurance.org, do not subject seniors to special copays or reduced plan benefits based on age. If you aren’t sure, ask.

If you are using a website, contact advisors and customer service representatives using the contact information provided—this may include phone, email and/or live chat. If you are working with an agent or broker, be sure to contact them with any questions or concerns about the dental insurance plans you are considering.

8. Apply and enroll

Once you find a satisfactory dental insurance plan, you can fill out an application and pay your first premium payment. Secure online application and enrollment takes only a few minutes. You may also contact your agent or broker or the dental plan’s carrier to request a paper application.

Be sure to enroll by the fifteenth of the month prior to when you wish to begin coverage. For instance, if you want a March 1 effective date, then you will need to enroll by Feb. 15.

Need help finding the right dental plan for your retirement years? Contact a dentalinsurance.org advisor at 866-645-6630.

1 Rondon, Nayda. "Medicare Dental Coverage and Supplemental Dental Benefits."Medicare Dental Coverage. Ceatus Media Group LLC, n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2014.



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