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Top 5 dental insurance questions and answers

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Clear up misconceptions about dental coverage for seniors

It’s clear that dental health care matters as you age. But understanding options for dental insurance for seniors may not be as clear.

Nearly one in five Americans over age 65 have untreated tooth decay and 66% of seniors have gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And the American Cancer Society reports that 62 is the average age for most people diagnosed with mouth, throat, and tongue cancer.

But many health insurance options, including Medicare, don’t include coverage for regular dental treatment, including routine cleanings, dentures, fillings, and more. Typically, they only cover services that impact a person’s health and not their oral health, and there’s an additional cost to cover dental.

That’s where a supplemental health insurance in the form of dental insurance comes in clutch; and it doesn’t have to break your budget. Read on to get answers to the most common questions related to dental coverage for seniors so you can be well protected.

1. How does dental insurance work?

Dental insurance plans are supplemental, which means they’re a separate investment from regular health insurance to complete your overall insurance portfolio. As you select your dental insurance plan, examine the policy to ensure it covers the basics (cleanings, fillings, crowns, bridges, dentures, root canals, TMJ, extractions, etc.), and keep in mind that this can be packaged with vision and hearing coverage if desired. If you’re on the fence about the right dental insurance plan for you, survey the percentage of each service the policy pays, the bonus benefits included, and if there is a waiting period for the supplemental dental insurance to begin.

Dental insurance for seniors is an investment in total body health. Skip regular cleanings and you’ll be at higher risk for an accumulation of bacteria that can trigger decay, cavities, and tooth loss. Poor oral health has been correlated to a whole host of other serious health challenges, according to the Mayo Clinic, including pneumonia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.

2. Is there dental insurance with no waiting period?

Absolutely, full coverage dental plans without a waiting period exist. The waiting period is the length between the dental insurance plan’s start date and when your covered care can begin. Most plans will include preventive care immediately, but may delay more expensive care, such as a crown or an extraction, until a later date. Check the dental insurance policy for plan specifics.

3. Is there full coverage dental insurance?

“Full coverage” refers to benefits that cover a wide variety of procedures — although it doesn’t mean that the dental insurance plan covers every dollar of your dental bill. Full coverage dental insurance plans are available and include preventive care (cleanings and fluoride treatments), basic care (fillings, extractions, and x-rays), major restorative care (crowns, bridges, and denture) and sometimes orthodontic care (braces).

Full coverage dental plans differ in price depending on the plan. For example, some are more expensive if they pay fully or partially for more elaborate treatments, like implants, dentures, cosmetic dental procedures, and root canals.

You might recognize similar terms from your health insurance policy on your dental insurance plan:

  • Deductible: The amount the insured pays before the plan pays.
  • Premium: The amount the insured pays monthly to keep the dental insurance plan active.
  • Coinsurance: The percentage of costs the insured and the plan share after the insured has reached the deductible.
  • Annual maximum: The amount the plan pays for dental coverage over the course of the year. (The insured is responsible for paying the rest out-of-pocket.)

4. How much is dental insurance?

Costs vary depending on your state and specific dental insurance plan, but most average $15–$50 a month. Most come with a maximum annual benefit or coverage limit around $1,000 to $2,000, and the insured is responsible for any additional bills over that amount.

5. Which dental insurance carrier offers the best coverage?

It can be a challenge to pinpoint the best dental insurance for seniors. As you weigh your options, keep in mind that Wellabe makes it simple with budget-friendly dental plans to help you maintain a healthy smile. The types of plans available depend on which state you live in.

All Wellabe plans allow you to use whatever dentist you prefer, and you’ll score extra savings if you use an in-network dental provider. Our network is one of the largest dental networks nationally and focuses on neighborhood dentists. 

Find participating providers

You also can rest assured that if you cancel your policy within 30 days of signing up, you’ll receive a refund, minus any claims paid,1 if you aren’t satisfied.

Our Gold and Platinum dental plans are available in some states for individuals ages 18 to 89. They not only include first-day coverage on all three service levels but also first dollar coverage on preventive services. 

These plans may work well for you if you:

  • Regularly visit the dentist for preventive care, such as routine cleanings
  • Are looking to keep your teeth healthy
  • Want back-up coverage for basic and major services

These plans are ideal if you:

  • Need an annual check-up immediately
  • Want immediate coverage for basic services, such as X-rays and fillings
  • Worry about the cost of major services — such as crowns and implants — and want some protection

The Gold and Platinum plans allow you to save additional money on your premium when you add a spouse or domestic partner to the dental policy at time of application. You can also receive a 5% discount if either you or your spouse/domestic partner (if applicable) are applying for and issued a Wellabe Medicare Supplement or Final Expense plan at the time of the dental plan or already have an existing Wellabe Medicare Supplement or Final Expense plan.2

You can also choose one of two additional benefits for an additional fee at the time of application.

  • The Buyup benefit rider adds $1,000 of coverage to maximize policy benefits. For example, the Gold $1,000 plan plus $1,000 buyup is $2,000 of coverage. The buyup is available for both levels in each plan.
  • If you think you may not use your plan’s full benefits during the year, you can add the Calendar Year Maximum Carry-over benefit rider to your plan. The carry-over amount accumulates until it reaches a max of $3,000. For example, if the Gold $1,000 plan has an unused benefit balance of $500, you can use the extra $500 in the next calendar year.

Next steps

For more information on our products and what is available in your state:

Photo credit: iStock

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Supplemental health plans

Understanding your insurance options in retirement

Kelly Rayburn, AVP national sales and distribution at Wellabe, and Olga Villaverde, from Lifetime TV’s The Balancing Act, discuss the areas that primary health plans and Medicare may not cover and how you can protect yourself with supplemental plans.

Learn more about supplemental health plans

More topics at thebalancingact.com

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