Insurance of any kind is hard to come by for seniors, at least not for a reasonable price. Dental insurance is no exception. Because they tend to need more specialized care and are more prone to problems, seniors have to pay a premium for dental coverage, often being charged more than twice their younger counterparts. That being said, there’s still some affordable dental insurance for seniors out there—it just takes a bit of shopping around.
Many seniors are drawn to dental discount plans. These aren’t insurance per se; they work by offering discounted rates for dental procedures. As with group insurance, the more members there are, the greater the discounts can be, since there are more paying members to cover the difference. The main advantages are the short waiting periods (since there are no examinations needed), wider coverage (pre-existing conditions are usually covered), and the looser limits on age and exclusions.
Of course, for procedures that cost more than average, discount plans may not be ideal. For traditional dental coverage, seniors often turn to organizations such as the AARP (American Association of Retired Persons, although they serve all seniors now, retired or not), which specializes in health coverage. The AARP currently has about seven million members, although not all are covered by dental insurance.
AARP dental coverage is provided by Delta Dental, a preferred provider association (PPO). This means that the insurer allows members to choose their dentists and switch dentists as they please, even out-of-network ones. All you have to do is pay your share of the fee and leave—no need to file claims or fill out reimbursement forms.
Delta Plan A offers 100% coverage for diagnostic and preventative procedures, and 80% coverage for maintenance and repairs. Restorative procedures, such as fillings and root canals, receive 50% coverage. Full coverage is also offered for dental accidents, with a maximum lifetime claim of $1,000. The coverage increases after twelve years of membership. Delta Plan B covers only 80% of the cost for diagnostic and preventative procedures, and 50% for all other procedures. Dental accident insurance is not included.
AARP dental coverage is offered to all its members, with the option to enroll spouses, partners, and dependent children (those who are under 26 or are disabled). Coverage is given for a minimum of 12 months and can be renewed every year, provided all the premiums are paid. If you’d like to give it a try, the group gives you a 30-day period within which you can withdraw and get a full refund.