5 things you need to know about dental health and health insurance
3. Other dental coverage options or discounts
First, contact your company or your spouse’s employer if one of you is still working. Half of people 65 or older who had dental coverage were employees, spouses of employees or retirees, according to the National Healthy Aging Survey. In some cases, employers may offer retirees access to a dental insurance plan or provide a referral to a company that offers benefits, says Richards of Delta Dental.
Second, you may be able to get dental coverage or a dental discount program through a Medigap policy. In 2020, about 1 in 8 Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medigap plans with additional dental, vision or hearing benefits, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a century-old foundation that focuses on better health care. Some dental programs offer 30-40% discounts for services such as cleanings, crowns, exams, and fillings using eligible dentists and have no co-payments, coverage limits, or downtimes. ‘waiting.
- You can enroll in a standalone dental discount program, usually with an upfront annual fee.
- Ask your dentist if they participate in other plans, such as in-house dental membership programs or discounts for upfront payments.
- Medicaid offers dental coverage in some states to people who meet income and asset requirements. About 1 in 9 Medicare beneficiaries had dental coverage through Medicaid in 2019, according to the Kaiser study. Less than half of the states provide care beyond emergency dental services for adults. Contact your state Medicaid office for details.
4. Your dentist can be an ally in controlling expenses
Before you retire, talk to your dentist about the care that’s important to receive over the next few years, says Leonard Brennan, retired dentist and co-director of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine’s Geriatrics Fellowship Program. If you need expensive services, consider scheduling them while you still have dental coverage from your employer, which may be better than your future coverage.
Don’t skip preventative dental visits such as teeth cleaning because you’re worried about the cost. The short-term savings could lead to bigger health issues, Brennan says.
Your dentist may be able to stretch your coverage dollars. If you’re nearing your policy’s annual coverage limit, the dentist may be able to spread some of the services you need into the next calendar year. To get an idea of how much different procedures will cost in your area, Delta Dental has a cost estimator.
5. Tax-free HSA money can help cover out-of-pocket dental expenses
Even if you have dental coverage, you may have to pay a lot of costs. If you already have a Health Savings Account (HSA) because you received your health insurance through a high-deductible plan, you can withdraw money tax-free for eligible medical expenses, including including dental costs.
You cannot make new contributions to an HSA after you enroll in Medicare. But you can withdraw money for eligible expenses at any age.
If you’re not yet enrolled in Medicare, saving tax-free for medical and dental expenses is a great reason to start an HSA. To be eligible to make HSA premiums in 2022, you must have an HSA-eligible health insurance policy with a deductible of at least $1,400 for single coverage or $2,800 for family coverage. You can contribute up to $3,650 for single coverage or $7,300 for family coverage in 2022, plus $1,000 in catch-up contributions if you’re 55 or older.
The HSA offers triple tax relief: your contributions are deducted from your salary before taxes are calculated or they are tax deductible if not paid by your employer. Money grows tax-deferred. And you can withdraw it tax-free for qualifying expenses in any year.
Kimberly Lankford is a writer who covers personal finance and health insurance. She has already written for Kiplinger’s personal finances magazine, and his articles have also appeared in US news and world report, The Washington Post and the boston globe. She received the Best in Business in Personal Finance award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.