Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare

United Healthcare offers a large dental network and flexible premiums

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Most seniors on Medicare need to purchase additional dental insurance. Original Medicare—Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance)—doesn’t cover routine dental care, such as cleanings, fillings, crowns, and dentures. It may cover certain dental expenses related to surgery or as part of an emergency. If you have Original Medicare and want dental coverage, however, you can buy a separate dental plan or enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C, that includes dental benefits. 

The best Medicare Advantage plans include other coverage such as dental, vision, and hearing. When shopping for a Medicare Advantage plan with dental coverage, make sure that the plan covers the dental services that are most important to you. This could include routine dental exams, X-rays, gum disease treatment, fillings, or dentures. You should look for plans that have widespread availability and competitive pricing.

Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare of 2021

Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare
Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare

Best Overall : United Healthcare


United Healthcare

United Healthcare

  • No. Policy Types: 3
  • Coverage Limit ($): $1,000 to $3,000
  • Providers In Network: 1,300,000
Why We Chose It

United Healthcare is our top overall pick for dental insurance for seniors on Medicare. They offer Medicare Advantage plans with an expansive network and flexible premiums.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Large network

  • Access to AARP benefits

  • Simple customer interface

Cons
  • Limited plan options depending on your location

  • Not all Advantage plans include dental coverage

Overview

United Healthcare, founded in 1974, was chosen as best overall based on its popularity and its affiliation with the American Association of Retired People (AARP). In 2021, 22 million people were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans nationwide. Of those 22 million people, United Healthcare insured the largest share of them, 26%.

More than 66% of Medicare beneficiaries have access to at least one United Healthcare plan. Also, United Healthcare services ranked fourth in overall customer service in a 2021 J.D. Power study (795 points out of 1,000).

Their full range of plans (HMO, HMO-POS, PPO, etc.) has premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location. If you choose United Healthcare, you'll also receive access to additional AARP programs and services such as discounts on shopping and travel, savings on home and auto insurance, and free financial advice.

Best Customer Service : Kaiser Permanente


Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente

  • No. Policy Types: 1
  • Coverage Limit ($): $1,250
  • Providers In Network: 300,000
Why We Chose It

We chose Kaiser Permanente for its excellent customer service. Kaiser garners top scores in customer satisfaction from J.D. Power.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Excellent customer satisfaction scores

  • Coverage available at any Kaiser Permanente facility

  • Flexible premiums

Cons
  • Only available in 8 states

  • Dental coverage costs extra

  • Dental is bundled with hearing and vision coverage

Overview

Kaiser gets our nod for best customer service based on their ratings from Medicare and from J.D. Power, the data analytics and consumer intelligence company. Kaiser came in second place in J.D. Power's Medicare Advantage satisfaction study and missed the top spot by just one point. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente is the largest not-for-profit HMO in the United States, serving 8.6 million members. People enrolled in Kaiser’s Medicare Advantage plan can get coverage at any Kaiser Permanente facility, and premiums range from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs.

With many of their Medicare Advantage Plans, Kaiser offers the Silver&Fit senior fitness program. The program is offered with a facility-based option and a home-based option and includes educational materials on healthy aging, social activities, and an activity and exercise tracking tool.

In J.D. Power’s annual survey, customers rated Kaiser the overall best Medicare Advantage plan for five consecutive years (2015–2019), and Kaiser scored 843 in the 2021 J.D. Power Survey, a higher score than any other.Additionally, Kaiser Permanente 2021 Medicare health plans received the highest ratings from the Medicare Star Quality Ratings: 5 out of 5 stars in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington D.C., and 4.5 out of 5 stars in Washington.

Best Online Tools : Humana


Humana

Humana

  • No. Policy Types: 15
  • Coverage Limit ($): $1,000
  • Providers In Network: 270,000
Why We Chose It

Humana is our top pick for a dental plan with robust online tools. They have a handy mobile app and allow users to list medications, view claims, and even earn rewards for healthy actions.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Robust selection of helpful online tools

  • SilverSneakers fitness program

  • Available in in every state except Alaska

Cons
  • Website interface can be confusing

  • Not all plans come with dental coverage

Overview

Humana offers a wide variety of online tools helpful to Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees. Humana’s RXMentor helps enrollees keep a complete, up-to-date list of their medications. Their MyHumana app offers fingerprint sign-in for access to ID Cards, drug pricing, claims, and in-network providers. Their Go365 program and app allow you to earn, track, and redeem points for completing healthy actions. These are the kinds of useful website features that made Humana our pick for best online tools.

Humana also offers SilverSneakers, a health and fitness program for seniors that includes gym access, classes, and the SilverSneakers Go fitness app for tracking and scheduling activities.

With some of their Medicare Advantage plans, Humana offers an option for additional dental coverage. For example, if you are located in Dallas, Texas, and enroll in the Humana Gold Choice PFFS plan, you have a $45 copay for in-network dentist visits and a $50 copay for an out-of-network dentist for Medicare-covered dental services. For an additional premium you can enroll in Humana’s MyOption Dental - High DEN838, which includes benefits for preventive, basic, and major services at both in-network and out-of-network dentists.

Founded in 1961, Humana offers Medicare Advantage plans in every state except Alaska. They have a full range of plans (HMO, PPO, PFFS, etc.) with premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location.

Best National Coverage : Aetna


Aetna

Aetna

  • No. Policy Types: 4
  • Coverage Limit ($): $1,000 to $3,000
  • Providers In Network: 700,000
Why We Chose It

With plans offered in all 50 states, Aetna is our top choice for national coverage. The insurer features a provider network of over 1.2 million health care professionals across the country.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Available in all 50 states

  • Large provider network

  • Prescription drug home delivery

Cons
  • Not all plans offered in all areas

  • Not all plans come with dental coverage

Overview

We chose Aetna as best for national coverage for its operations in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Aetna has approximately 12.7 million dental members, and their network includes about 1.2 million health care professionals, with over 700,000 primary care doctors and specialists and over 5,700 hospitals. 

With many of their Medicare Advantage plans, Aetna offers home delivery of most prescription drugs through their mail-order pharmacy: CVS Caremark. Aetna also offers a concierge program with many of its Medicare Advantage plans. An Aetna concierge can help you manage your health care expenses, understand your benefits, locate providers near you, and help plan for treatments.

Founded in 1853, Aetna, has a full range of plans (HMO, PPO, EPO, etc.) with premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location.

Best for Potential New Offerings : WellCare


WellCare

WellCare

  • No. Policy Types: 8
  • Coverage Limit ($): $750+
  • Providers In Network: Not stated
Why We Chose It

WellCare is our top choice for a newcomer to the field of Medicare Advantage plans. Founded in 1985, they’re an up-and-coming provider.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Over the counter coverage

  • Access to a personal emergency response system

  • Easy to navigate website

Cons
  • Only available in 27 states

  • Not as established as some other providers

Overview

Founded in 1985, WellCare is a relative newcomer. We picked them as one to watch for potential new offerings in their Medicare Advantage Plans for two reasons: In 2018, WellCare acquired Aetna’s Part D prescription drug plan (PDP) and in 2020, they were acquired by Centene, one of the largest providers of Medicaid. This deal-making activity could result in new Medicare Advantage Plan offerings that address specific pricing or feature needs.

Benefits offered with some WellCare Medicare Advantage Plans include over-the-counter (OTC) coverage and access to a personal emergency response system. The OTC benefit is a fixed dollar amount for non-prescription medications and wellness-oriented items that can be shipped directly to you. The personal emergency response system, for people who live alone or are left alone for long periods, is connected to your phone and allows you to get emergency help with the push of a button.

WellCare Medicare Advantage Plans are available in 27 states. They have a full range of plans (HMO, PPO, EPO, etc.) with premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location.

Best for Special Needs : Cigna


Cigna

Cigna

  • No. Policy Types: 3
  • Coverage Limit ($): $1,000
  • Providers In Network: 89,000
Why We Chose It

If you have special dental needs as a senior on Medicare, then Cigna is a good choice. They offer special needs plans and an increased range of services for customers who need them.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Special needs plans available

  • Regular health assessments

  • Increased range of services

Cons
  • Only available in 23 states

  • Dental coverage only available with some plans

Overview

We chose Cigna as best for special needs because of their personalized plan offerings. While other Medicare Advantage Plans limit coverage to individuals with special health conditions or care needs, Cigna offers special needs plans that include access to a wider range of specialists, along with regular health assessment (beyond annual physicals and care transition assistance).

Depending on your health care needs, Cigna offers an increased range of services, whether that is more intensive treatments, personalized care treatments, or more individual specialist attention.

Based on a review of Cigna’s Model of Care, the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) has approved Cigna to operate as a Special Needs Plan (SNP) through 2021.

Cigna offers a health risk assessment (HRA) that can be used to develop personalized care plans with Cigna Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees and their primary care doctor. The HRA also helps match each enrollee with the health and wellness services that best fit their needs.

Originally founded in 1792 as the Insurance Company of North America, Cigna is now an American worldwide health services organization. They have a full range of plans (HMO, PPO, EPO, etc.) with premiums ranging from $0 to over $100 each month, depending on your needs and location.

Final Verdict

There are lots of options when it comes to dental insurance for seniors on Medicare. Whether you need supplemental dental coverage or want to purchase coverage in case of dental emergencies, there are plenty of plans to choose from. Overall, our top pick for a Medicare Advantage dental plan is United Healthcare.

United Healthcare offers affordable, accessible dental plans to patients. The insurer features a network of over 1,300,000 providers. Members also gain access to a variety of additional benefits from AARP. United Healthcare’s website is simple and informative, which makes it easy to select a plan that meets your needs.

Compare The Best Dental Insurance for Seniors on Medicare

Company Plans (#)  Coverage Limit  No. States Available  Providers In-Network 
United Healthcare
Best Overall
3 $1,000 to $3,000 34 1,300,000
Kaiser Permanenter
Best Customer Service 
$1,250  300,000 
Humana
Best Online Tools 
15  $1,000  49  270,000 
Aetna
Best National Coverage 
$1,000 to $3,000  50  700,000 
WellCare
Best for Potential New Offerings 
8 $750+  27  Not stated 
Cigna
Best for Special Needs
$1,000  23  89,000

Guide to Getting Dental Insurance with Medicare 

Signing up for Medicare can be a complicated process, so we have outlined the basic steps below. Here are some tips to help you sign up for the best dental plan for you from the Medicare Advantage plan options.

Find Dental Plans for Medicare Near You 

To find a dental plan near you, you should visit the websites of the companies offering Medicare Advantage plans to view the details of each plan. Many company websites also allow you to see if your dentist accepts the plan. If you’re not sure where to start, consider talking to a broker or consultant. Good resources include the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs at 877-839-2675 or call Medicare at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) to get answers to questions not answered in your research.

Compare Medicare Advantage Dental Plans 

Using Medicare’s Find a Medicare Plan tool, you can log in without an account, choose a Medicare Advantage Plan, type in your ZIP code, and follow the simple instructions to get a list of the available plans. The “Plan Details” button helps you learn more about the coverage offered, such as preventative dental (exam, cleaning, X-rays) or comprehensive dental (extractions, periodontics, restorative services).

Medicare Advantage Enrollment 

If you’re wondering how to join the Medicare Advantage program, Medicare provides excellent online resources including details about enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage Plans. The Medicare Advantage enrollment period depends on your age as well as any qualifying life changes, such as moves or income changes. You can sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan under the following circumstances:

  • When you become eligible for Medicare: If you turn 65 or have a qualifying disability, you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan.
  • During yearly enrollment periods: From October 15 to December 7 you can change from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage or switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • After qualifying life events: If you experience a life event such as a move or loss of income, you may be able to qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Plans and Pricing

Signing up for Medicare can be a complicated process, so we have outlined the basic steps below. Here are some tips to help you sign up for the best dental plan for you from the Medicare Advantage plan options.

Step 1: Find a list of Medicare Advantage plans available in your area. 

Using Medicare’s Find a Medicare Plan tool, you can log in without an account, choose a Medicare Advantage Plan, type in your ZIP code, and follow the simple instructions to get a list of the available plans.

Step 2: Review the plans available in your area. 

Under “Plan Benefits,” a green checkmark next to “Dental” indicates plans that include dental coverage.

Along with benefits, you will see other useful information, such as monthly premiums, the yearly maximum you pay for health costs, and the type of plan, such as:

·    HMO (health maintenance organization)

·    HMO-POS (health maintenance organization—point of service)

·    PPO (preferred provider organization)

·    PFFS (private fee-for-service)

·    SNPs (special needs plans)

Step 3: Find the plans with features that fit your needs.

The “Plan Details” button helps you learn more about the coverage offered, such as preventative dental (exam, cleaning, X-rays) or comprehensive dental (extractions, periodontics, restorative services).

Step 4: Visit the websites of the companies offering the plans.

You can look at the details of each plan, and many company websites allow you to see if your dentist accepts the plan.

Step 5: Consider talking to a broker or consultant.

Good resources include the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs at 877-839-2675 or call Medicare at 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) to get answers to questions not answered in your research.

Step 6: Sign up.

Medicare provides excellent online resources including details about enrollment periods for Medicare Advantage Plans.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Does a Medicare Advantage Plan With Dental Coverage Cost Out-of-Pocket Over the Monthly Premium?

Typically, copayment or coinsurance for most Medicare Advantage Plan dental coverage, such as 50% coinsurance or a $50 copayment. Also, many plans cap the annual coverage amount. That being said, plans are different between providers and even between plans offered by the same provider. You should check the costs associated with your dental coverage before committing to a plan.

Is a Medicare Advantage Plan the Only Way to Get Dental Coverage With Medicare?

No, no matter what type of Medicare coverage you have you can purchase a dental-only insurance plan. There are a variety of plans available offering different levels of coverage, premiums, copays, and spending caps. Examples include Delta Dental, Humana, and others.

What Are the Benefits of Buying a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Some people prefer a Medicare Advantage Plan because it bundles all coverage under one plan that often includes a prescription drug program and added benefits such as dental, vision, and hearing care. Also, many prefer a lower monthly premium (sometimes $0) based on how they feel they will access the coverage.

How Much Does a Medicare Advantage Plan Typically Cost?

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month (vs. 2021's average of $21.22), although the monthly premiums for a Medicare Advantage Plan can range from $0 to over $100. There are also out-of-pocket costs such as copayments and coinsurance. For some plans, out-of-pocket costs can also be impacted by going to doctors who are out of network.

Some plans have a yearly limit on your out-of-pocket costs for all medical services. For example, if you live in Dallas, Texas:

  • The United Healthcare AARP Medicare Advantage (HMO-POS) has a $0 monthly premium and a $3,900 out-of-pocket maximum
  • The HumanaChoice PPO has a $10 monthly premium and a $6,700 out-of-pocket maximum ($10,000 combined in- and out-of-network)
  •  The Cigna-HealthSpring (HMO) Preferred has a $0 monthly premium and a $5,500 out-of-pocket maximum (applies to in-network Medicare-covered benefits)

While you might be attracted to the perceived lower price, be sure to check the coverage to make sure that you are getting the care you want and need, without incurring additional costs that may offset the upfront savings.

Can My Coverage Change?

Every January Medicare Advantage Plans can change their costs and their coverage for the new calendar year. You should review your coverage and compare your plan with other available plans to make sure you have the coverage you need at the best possible price.

Methodology

For this ranking, we looked at over two dozen Medicare Advantage Plan providers and almost 100 individual plans. Key considerations included Medicare’s CMS Star Rating, J.D. Power customer service ratings for Medicare Advantage Plan providers, and geographic availability (number of states plan is available), as well as website interface, navigation, and usability. We also considered any additional benefits providers offer upon enrolling, such as health and wellness plans or home delivery for prescriptions.

Article Sources

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  3. J.D. Power. "2021 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study." Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.

  4. Kaiser Permanente. "Medicare Health Plans: Star Quality." Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.

  5. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. "CMS Releases 2022 Premiums and Cost-Sharing Information for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans." Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.

  6. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. "Trump Administration Announces Historically Low Medicare Advantage Premiums and New Payment Model to Make Insulin Affordable Again for Seniors." Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.