America’s Senior Dental Care Crisis

Healthy teeth have become an unaffordable luxury for far too many of our senior citizens.

 

Routine dental care is not provided under Medicare, and less than 20 percent of older Americans have private dental insurance. While the ACA marketplace does offer some dental insurance plans, traditional insurance doesn’t always meet seniors’ needs.

 

“Many older people have a preexisting dental condition, which dental insurance typically does not cover – and certainly won’t cover without a long waiting period. And many seniors need the more complicated restorative procedures, which insurance also may not cover,” says Bill Chase, VP of marketing for :DentalPlans.

 

“Many older people have a preexisting dental condition, which dental insurance typically does not cover – and certainly won’t cover without a long waiting period. And many seniors need the more complicated restorative procedures, which insurance also may not cover.”

 

50 States Of Decay

 

Seniors limited access to dental care is rapidly becoming the most significant health crisis facing America’s elders, according to Oral Health America, a non-profit group whose study “A State of Decay” indicates that the Affordable Care Act has failed to address the problem.

 

Emergency room visits for dental problems doubled from a reported 1 million cases of adults over 65 in 1999-2000 to 2.3 million cases in 2009-2010, according to the findings in “A State of Decay.” The report noted that emergency rooms typically treat dental issues with extractions and/or painkillers: “a temporary fix that wastes millions of taxpayer dollars annually.”

 

“The emergency room should obviously not be the place where people get their dental care, nor should we be neglecting the oral care of our seniors. The end result is unnecessary pain, possible health complications, and avoidable expense,” says Chase.

 

“Until we can offer seniors meaningful expansion of dental coverage – and people truly understand theimportance of their oral health to their overall health and wellbeing – we will continue to see far too many of our older citizens going without essential dental care services,” Chase added.

 

Not Just Seniors

 

The State of Decay report further warned that the lack of access to dental care currently plaguing seniors today is a growing problem that will continue to affect virtually all Americans.

 

Baby Boomers tend to enter their senior years with more natural teeth than previous generations did. Those teeth, though, have withstood the challenges of 65 hard-working years and need the best of modern dental care to continue to thrive. When retirees lose their employment dental benefits, they may find that dental insurance plans no longer fit their budgets or cover the services they need. And many of us assume Medicare covers dental until we sign up for the coverage.  But less than 1% of standard dental services are typically covered by Medicare.

 

Kids are faring better with dental care, thanks in part to the Affordable Care Act. About 3.0 million children will be covered by dental policies purchased on the ACA marketplaces by 2018. The Centers For Disease Control ( CDC) estimates that an additional 3.2 million children will gain dental benefits via the ACA’s Medicaid expansion plan.

 

About 17.7 million adults are also expected to have dental benefits by 2018, but this increase is expected to be primarily due to Medicaid coverage, which tends to limit adult benefits to emergency dental services only.

 

Adults face financial barriers to dental care even if they have dental insurance.  The majority of dental insurance plans cap coverage at $1000-$1500, about the cost of one root canal and crown in a metropolitan area. The services insurance will pay for are also highly restricted, with long waiting periods for major procedures and little if any coverage for pre-existing conditions.

 

Dental Savings Plans are quickly becoming the answer to Americans’ oral health woes. Savings plans provide all of the critical cost benefits of standard dental insurance, with none of the restrictions.  Find out now whether a dental savings plan is right for you. Review our offerings, and decide whether a savings plan fits your needs. Our AtYourService Customer Care Representatives would be happy to answer any questions you might have, give them a call at 1-800-238-5163.

 

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