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Paying For Dental Care When On Medicare
Old 04-26-2019, 09:49 AM   #1
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Paying For Dental Care When On Medicare

I know that we've pretty much determined that dental insurance really isn't a good deal once no longer insured through w*rk.

I'm still a few years away from Medicare, so am currently paying all my dental care on my own but reimbursing myself each year through my HSA.

When medicare rolls along and no more HSA to lean on should I expect to pay for all dental and no reimbursement of any sort?

As I said, I'm still several years away, but reached a moment, as it is not uncommon for me to rack up about $3000 in dental care a year.
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Old 04-26-2019, 09:56 AM   #2
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Any funds you have in your HSA once on Medicare can still be used to reimburse yourself for dental expenses. We've been doing so since going on Medicare seven years ago and will continue until the HSA money is depleted - probably in a couple of years.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:26 AM   #3
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You might want to look for yourself at dental plans available to you. I know I had the same idea about dental plans as you state above.....limited coverage capped at something like 1-2K.

However after being w/o coverage and having to pay "regular" rates, I have been taking a 2nd look and am about to (pending a 3rd look) enroll in the AARP PPO Plan A . I have a backlog of work that my old dentist ignored that the new dentist thinks should be done. If I get that done, my 2nd look suggests that a yr w/ insurance may be better than w/o.

Things to consider:
Cleanings/X-rays/check up: free w/ plan
Other "minor" procedures: 20% of plan contract amount vs 100% of market rate (which is higher than contract amount)

Balanced against this is that you have to pay the monthly premiums so you have to balance the savings above against the cost. If you have enough work to be done, the savings might offset the costs. You have to worry about the cap too.......but the fact that the contract rates are lower helps here.

If all you have is the cleanings/x-rays/checkup , the premiums probably exceed the savings so it depends.....................
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:33 AM   #4
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We've been on the Careington 500 dental discount plan for the last 15 or so years since our dentist is on their list and it gets us a discount that saves a significant amount of money each year.

https://www.careingtondentalsavings....l-plans/plans/

We pay the $129 total that covers both of us. Don't know if that is still the case or not as we are grandfathered in.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:49 AM   #5
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We have BCBS dental insurance @ $33 a month each. Price of our dental services is going out of sight. Our dentist has had to invest big $ to stay current technologically.

A root canal and crown alone is $1700 approx.--and they're much more in some cities. Insurance pays 1/2 of that.
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Old 04-26-2019, 10:54 AM   #6
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A root canal and crown alone is $1700 approx.--and they're much more in some cities.
I just paid $2,300.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:01 AM   #7
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I may very well be naive, but I signed up for a senior dental policy (that includes vision & hearing), and most years I get by with standard cleanings & X-rays. I have had a few expensive years, but they are few and far between.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:08 AM   #8
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I have been paying cash on the spot for all dental care whether before or after Medicare, and this included paying for several implants, root canals, and more. My teeth have always been really awful but even so, dental care in retirement has been much more than I had planned for. Dental+implant expenses have been my biggest surprise in funding my retirement.

Recently I separated my dental+implant expenses into a separate category so here is what it has cost me for the past 8 years from age 63 to almost age 71. As you can see from the numbers below, for me the cost has been very erratic thus far. Some years all I need is a cleaning, and other years I have had to pay for implants and more.

2012: $698
2013: $3,221
2014: $220
2015: $2,462
2016: $6,050
2017: $8,135
2018: $95
2019 (so far): $125

The total is $21,006, which comes to an average of $236/month. This includes four implants, about as many root canals, a bridge, fillings, regular cleaning and xrays, and more. Luckily this amount is not a hardship for me but I would imagine that it could have been less of a blow had my planning been better.

Don't get me wrong - - I think the results far outweigh the costs and I am thrilled that all of my teeth are there (or replaced with implants), functional, and pain free. I never in a million years expected to have all my teeth in my 70's like this.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:13 AM   #9
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Probably not useful to the OP, but DW has subsidized dental insurance as part of her pension plan and I found that I could be added for $5 a month.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:14 AM   #10
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The total is $21,006, which comes to an average of $236/month.
Impressive.

Made me look at our dental expenses over the same time period. We racked up $14,506 between the two of us, so you are three times more popular with your dentist than we are!
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:26 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Any funds you have in your HSA once on Medicare can still be used to reimburse yourself for dental expenses. We've been doing so since going on Medicare seven years ago and will continue until the HSA money is depleted - probably in a couple of years.
I was not aware of that. Music to my ears.

Hopefully, by the time I go on Medicare, I'll have enough in the HSA to cover my dental expenses rest of my life. We shall see .
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:35 AM   #12
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So far we are lucky to have found one of the better dentists in town. Two brothers with a legacy practice. Same price for cash and insurance customers. Also their pricing is transparent and their approach conservative. It was a long road with dentists that were money grubbers and even one who went to jail on drug charges. All while my DW was mid procedure between a root canal and crown. Long story short - find a good dentist that meets your needs. When in doubt spend a couple bucks and get a second opinion. These factors have proven more important than having insurance or not.

No longer having insurance has made us better consumers and actually led to lower costs through diligent research. Another advantage of ER. We have the time to do it right.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:36 AM   #13
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Impressive.

Made me look at our dental expenses over the same time period. We racked up $14,506 between the two of us, so you are three times more popular with your dentist than we are!
My teeth s*ck!!! The implants are what's killing my dental budget. Also my dentist has four teenaged kids to put through college and I am sure doing my share. Actually he undercharges me for most things, probably because I was his first patient back in 1999 when he first got out of LSU dental school, because I pay in cash, and because I don't give him much trouble.

I had even more dental work as a teenager. I remember one dental checkup 51 years ago at which the dentist found 64 cavities and 4 root canals needed, only a year after my last previous checkup. Apparently my tooth enamel just wasn't up to par.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:39 AM   #14
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I keep track of expenses too, so here are the numbers for the last five years (2014-2018) for two people, including repairs for DW's faceplant.

Dental costs billed: $6,941
Insurance paid: $3,299
We paid: 3,058
We also paid insurance premiums: $1,818

So it has been a very good deal for us, saving over $2K in five years.

Don't bother asking which dental insurance, because it's subsidized. As a retiree, DW gets it (for both of us) at the same rate as current employees.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:44 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by W2R View Post
I have been paying cash on the spot for all dental care whether before or after Medicare, and this included paying for several implants, root canals, and more. My teeth have always been really awful but even so, dental care in retirement has been much more than I had planned for. Dental+implant expenses have been my biggest surprise in funding my retirement.

Recently I separated my dental+implant expenses into a separate category so here is what it has cost me for the past 8 years from age 63 to almost age 71. As you can see from the numbers below, for me the cost has been very erratic thus far. Some years all I need is a cleaning, and other years I have had to pay for implants and more.

2012: $698
2013: $3,221
2014: $220
2015: $2,462
2016: $6,050
2017: $8,135
2018: $95
2019 (so far): $125

The total is $21,006, which comes to an average of $236/month. This includes four implants, about as many root canals, a bridge, fillings, regular cleaning and xrays, and more. Luckily this amount is not a hardship for me but I would imagine that it could have been less of a blow had my planning been better.

Don't get me wrong - - I think the results far outweigh the costs and I am thrilled that all of my teeth are there (or replaced with implants), functional, and pain free. I never in a million years expected to have all my teeth in my 70's like this.
I'm this X2 over the last three years. No, I am not trying to look like a movie star or pro sports figure....
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:52 AM   #16
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I'm this X2 over the last three years. No, I am not trying to look like a movie star or pro sports figure....
I know!!! You and TeacherTerry have both had an awful time with your teeth in the past few years and my heart goes out to you both. Believe me, I feel extremely lucky when I read your posts about it, and hers. But also I am glad you went ahead and paid for it, because I do feel that for most of us good dentistry as needed adds a huge amount to quality of life.
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Old 04-26-2019, 11:55 AM   #17
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I know!!! You and TeacherTerry have had an awful time with your teeth in the past few years and my heart goes out to you both. Believe me, I feel extremely lucky when I read your posts about it, and hers. But also I am glad you went ahead and paid for it, because I do feel that for most of us good dentistry as needed adds a huge amount to quality of life.
Worth every penny of it. I still have an implant to go but it will require a bone graft, which I am hesitant to put myself through that procedure.
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Old 04-26-2019, 12:02 PM   #18
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Worth every penny of it. I still have an implant to go but it will require a bone graft, which I am hesitant to put myself through that procedure.
The bone graft is NOTHING compared to what you have been through!! It sounds awful but honestly it is easier than getting your teeth cleaned.
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Old 04-26-2019, 12:04 PM   #19
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I go with insurance since it is a known amount. Would hate to have a surprise $10K bill.
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Old 04-26-2019, 12:11 PM   #20
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The bone graft is NOTHING compared to what you have been through!! It sounds awful but honestly it is easier than getting your teeth cleaned.

Please don't think that a bone graft is a walk in the park! Maybe for some folks, but I just went through a graft for a pair of implants (perhaps 9 months ago), and it was not pleasant. Setting the implants was likewise not a pleasant experience. But I just had the upper parts installed a couple days ago, and I think the end result is going to be worth it.
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