A recent NPR story chronicles the fact that senior citizens are often in need of dental care, but rarely have any sort of insurance that covers dental care. Traditional Medicare does not cover dental work, except that which is related to services received while in a hospital. While some Medicare Advantage managed care plans provide some degree of dental care, the coverage is typically pretty minimal.
Alternatives forms of coverage for dental care, such as through private dental insurance plans, also are unlikely to have a significant effect on an individual’s dental bills. By the time that a person pays deductibles, co-pays, and insurance premiums, it is probably not cost-effective to maintain the policy for most adults. Some federally-qualified health centers may provide senior dental care on a sliding fee scale, and some low or no-cost dental clinics do exist in certain parts of the country. Particularly for low-income senior citizens, though, the ability to access dental care is often out of reach, which contributes to the untreated tooth decay in about one-third of the individuals whose income places them below 200% of the federal poverty level, or about $23,000 per year.
Dental care is essential not only to maintain the health of older person’s teeth, but to help them avoid the pain of decaying teeth and an inability to eat certain foods. Furthermore, when gum disease loosens teeth, bacteria easily can enter the person’s body and cause serious infections. A lack of dental care also can create complications for those who suffer from diabetes and heart disease. Finally, those with a lack of dental care are typically embarrassed, and they may avoid speaking, smiling, or attending social events altogether.
Given the importance of consistent dental care and the complications that can result from a lack of dental care, it is in your best interest to include dental care in your Long-Term Care plan. Elder Law Group PLLC are Washington Long-Term Care planning lawyers who dedicate their practice to protecting the interests of individuals and their families in terms of preparing for Long-Term Care needs. Call our office today to set up your appointment and learn what options are available to you.