Dental insurance after retirement

mtnesterSeptember 30, 2005

Hi folks,

I'm a regular on the Kitchen Forum but haven't posted here till now. I recently resigned from my job (since I'm age 60, I'm not sure whether to call it retirement or not). I plan to take a long rest and catch up on some projects, and then I will probably freelance from home. DH is 62 and plans to continue working "forever." We have had dental insurance through my employer, but that will no longer be available, except that I could continue it for 18 months through COBRA. I'd like to find some other dental insurance as an individual + spouse. We have our medical coverage through DH's employer, and they do offer a dental plan, but our dentist doesn't participate in that particular plan, and we want to stay with our current dentist, if we can manage to.

I asked our dentist's staff for a list of insurance plans he participates in. I've been calling them and checking web sites, and it appears that most of the PPOs are available only as group plans through employers. Several companies offer discount cards for fixed fees or a straight percentage (generally 25--35%) off of the customary fee. That might be our best (or only) bet, but I am still hoping to find a real insurance plan.

We generally need routine care, like cleanings, x-rays, and the occasional filling, but over the years, there have been more expensive needs like crowns, too, so I can't expect that we'll always need only the minimal services.

Is it better to have a deductible to keep the cost low for the expensive stuff that might arise, or to pay at a discount across the board?

Do any of you have experience with the discount programs? Do they really suit your needs? Have you encountered problems with them? Or do you know of any dental PPOs available to individuals? Is using COBRA a good or bad idea? I'd appreciate any advice you can give me.



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Hi MTnester (but not MTheader),

Do you have a dental school in the area?

I've attended the local one, for fillings, root canals, etc then a good deal of extractions and making of full upper and partial lower plates.

There was substantial cost, of course, but much lower than through regular dentists, and the supervisors check every step of the procedures.

Actually, they'd planned to give me a partial plate on top, but then the supervisor recommended taking them all out, including one that they'd done a root canal on a couple of months previously, so they gave me a substantial credit toward the remainder of the work.

I think that you'd be pleased with the service of a dental school, if one is available.

My student, an east Indian, was a very gentle person - I mentioned this one to a supervisor, and she heartily concurred.

Hope you get all of the teeth fixing that you need - at a reasonable price.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 2:59PM
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Hi Joyful Guy (what a great outlook on life! Your name says it all! It makes me think that maybe I was "accentuating the negative" when I chose that "MT" screen name--but my life is very full, even tho' my nest is empty!)

Thanks so much for your advice. Actually, I'm trying NOT to change dentists, because I love the guy I've been going to for the past 19 years. (Funny you should mention the dental school idea, though, because when I first found my current dentist, he was recommended to me by a friend who had first visited him at the local dental school! He later opened his own practice, and that's where he was when I started going there. He's been saying for years that he's going to retire "next year," so maybe I'll be looking for someone new soon, but for now, I'd like to continue with him.

Sorry for rambling so much!

I've been researching this question for the past couple of weeks now, and I see that, with few exceptions, the options for retirees are pretty limited. I guess I was kinda spoiled by the full coverage I had while I was working, and I just assumed it would continue that way. Not!! I'm trying to dig up the numbers for various plans (COBRA, discount cards, fixed fees, etc) so I can "crunch" them and see which option makes the best sense for us.

I never realized that dental coverage would be so expensive in retirement. I hope others will chime in with their experiences and suggestions, too.



    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 3:52PM
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I think if you really like your dentist and are happy with his work to stick with him and pay regular price if necessary. I had to pay full price to a dentist I don't know but fortunately he has worked out ok. He is trying to save the few teeth I do have and I appreciate it even tho it is costing me.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 10:25PM
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AARP is now offering dental insurance in some states--mine (NJ) just opened up. Go to the AARP page & take a look.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2005 at 11:52PM
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Minnie, there seems to be no way around it: I've learned that dental coverage is much more expensive if you're not part of a large group (e.g., through your employment). I agree that it's important to have a dentist that you feel comfortable with, and whose judgment and skills you trust.

Lee, thanks for that suggestion to check out AARP! I've been doing that all morning! We let our AARP membership lapse, but we could rejoin. In my state, the AARP dental plan is Delta Dental, and I've found that my dentist participates in that plan. It costs a lot more "up front" because it's a real insurance plan (PPO), but it may be worth it if we need expensive procedures (as I suspect we do). One downside is that there's a waiting period of a year for some things, such as crowns and dentures--not sure whether we can wait that long! I'm still weighing the advantages and costs.

Thanks again for the helpful suggestions!


    Bookmark   October 7, 2005 at 1:43PM
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Neither of us has had nor do we have dental ins. This may be a mistake at this time in our lives, cuz research shows that dental care at this age often involves more complicated procedures, hence more expensive.

Personally, I think it is time to do some serious capping on dental work, just like they have for years on much of the medical. On the other hand, I could do with less government involvement in our lives. But, we are becoming too lopsided in our nation, the have much and the have nots and middle class disappearing. Oh, I must not get started on that.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2005 at 6:02PM
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Because of the growth in the retiree market, there is an increasing focus on developing dental plans for retirees. In addition to the AARP program that someone mentioned, a couple of companies have introduced new insurance products this year for retirees: Dental Select (UT, TX, NV, & CA) and Renaissance Life (nationwide). Another company added a discount plan focused on seniors: American Dental Professional Services.

These companies can be contacted through the dental plan directory on the website consumer site maintained by the National Association of Dental Plans.

Here is a link that might be useful: INeedDentalBenefits

    Bookmark   June 2, 2009 at 12:08PM
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When you reach age 62 and become elgible for social security, one option is to sign in a for a private health plan in place of medicare part B. Some of these plans offer dental insurance. United Health (AARP Endorsed) offers a dental plan for about $39 per month. However, many dentists do not accept this plan, but some do. Before you sign for a dental plan, get a list of dentists who are accepting the plan, AND before signing in, call the dentist office to verify if in fact they do accept the insurance. Don't completely believe the list produced by the insurnace company. A dentist may have changed his mind after the list was made, or the list may be outdated.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2009 at 1:59AM
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I have posted this before, but will do it again. I read an article about dental insurance and it makes a lot of sense. If you have neglected your teeth you need dental insurance. If your teeth are in good shape your dental insurance will cost you more than you spend. I have taken care of my teeth from the day I married. The only time I had large expense was for upper dentures and I did have insurance, but it didn't cover dentures or implants. The dentures were the result of my parents being unable to pay for dental care when I was a child. My dental expense is around $60. a year for cleaning. Most people go every 6 months, but my dentist told me I didn't need to because I take very good care of my teeth.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:04PM
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