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The Outdated State Of Medicare

By: Dr. Jed Jacobson, D.D.S., M.S., M.P.H. Millions of Americans signed up for Medicare during the most recent open enrollment period. They’re covered if something goes wrong with almost anything except their mouths. But it’s vital that the 10,000 Americans who retire each day are protected when it comes to their oral health. Teeth are not immune to aging, and many people will find themselves paying for costly procedures like crown replacements, extractions, implants and dentures unless they continue with the preventative care usually covered by dental insurance. When Medicare started in 1965 the vast majority of people 65 and older already had dentures. That may explain why lawmakers decided dental coverage wasn’t needed for the aging population. Fifty years later, times have changed: Now most aging Americans still have their teeth and need regular oral health care. There are many factors at play when understanding why dental coverage is key for seniors. For example, many older adults take prescription drugs for conditions like hypertension that can make them more prone to periodontal disease and tooth decay. Along with that, their dentist is often the first person to see signs of diseases not only of the mouth, but of the entire body. In fact, dentists can detect signs and symptoms of up to 120 diseases including diabetes, heart disease and several types of cancer. If a dentist spots a disease or illness in its early stages, it can not only reduce medical costs, it can save lives. The reality is only 10 percent of Americans retire with dental coverage, according to Oral Health America, a nonprofit advocacy group. Because Medicare doesn’t offer it, nearly 70 percent of older Americans are not covered when it comes to their oral health. These numbers are troubling when you consider more than 70 million Americans are expected to be retired by 2030. Because of the limitations of Medicare, now is the time to sign up for dental coverage. Retirees have a choice when it comes to protecting their oral health. There are many options for finding affordable dental insurance, from group plans offered through associations to customizable individual plans from providers like Renaissance Dental. In fact, Renaissance can customize plans as a supplement to Medicare, and offers a network of leading national and regional PPO networks. Plans cover preventive care, such as routine exams and cleanings, plus certain dental procedures like crowns and implants. Plan premiums can be as little as $25 per month. Visit MyRenCoverage.com/ren or call 888-791-5995 to learn more. About the Author Dr. Jed Jacobson is the director of the Renaissance Dental Research and Data Institute. Dr. Jacobson is an expert in dental research, especially in the ways oral health affects overall health and in ways to make dental services more cost-effective.