Original Medicare Does Not Cover Hearing Aids, Eyeglasses or Dental Work
As you get older, it’s more important than ever that you regularly get your vision, hearing and teeth checked.
Eye doctors can watch for and prevent vision loss and prescribe eyeglasses or contacts to keep you seeing your best. Dentists can keep your teeth strong and healthy and provide you with dentures if you need them so you can continue to enjoy the foods you love. And being able to hear well as you age can reduce the chances of dementia, isolation and depression.
Unfortunately, Original Medicare does not cover most dental, vision and hearing expenses. Original Medicare consists of Part A (which pays for hospital-related expenses) and Part B (which pays for medical expenses such as doctor’s visits). Dentists, optometrists or ophthalmologists and audiologists are not included under Part A or B.
This can be a hardship for many seniors, since prescription glasses, hearing aids, dentures and other related expenses can be expensive.
What About Medicare Supplement Plans/Medigap Plans?
You might think that you would be able to get dental, vision or hearing coverage through a Medicare Supplement Plan (also known as a Medigap Plan), but other options will provide better coverage.
Medigap plans are meant to help cover the gaps in Original Medicare – meaning that they will only supplement Part A and B (hospital and medical expenses). Some things Medicare Supplement Plans may cover are:
- Part A co-insurance
- Part B co-insurance or co-payments
- Blood transfusions
- Part A hospice care co-insurance or co-payments
- Skilled nursing facility care co-insurance
- Part A deductibles
- Part B deductibles (Note: After January 1, 2020, Medigap Plans will no longer cover Part B deductibles)
- Part B excess charges
- Foreign travel emergencies
So, you’ll note there are no dental, vision or hearing services on this list.
What About Medicare Advantage?
The good news is that if you decide to switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, there are a number of plans available that include vision, hearing and dental benefits. Not all Medicare Advantage Plans cover these services, but some might include one or two.
All Medicare Advantage Plans cover the services offered by Original Medicare (Parts A & B) and some offer an additional prescription benefit. Additionally, these plans often set themselves apart by offering other helpful benefits, which may include vision, hearing and dental services as well as wellness plans or gym memberships.
Talk to a private insurance agent if you are interested in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes benefits for dental, hearing and vision services.
Stand-Alone Dental, Vision and Hearing Coverage
If you want to stick with Original Medicare, there are stand-alone vision, dental and hearing plans that have been developed especially for seniors. These are sold by private insurance agencies. You will have to pay premiums for this add-on insurance, but it ultimately may save you from a lot of out-of-pocket expenses.
It’s important to worry less about routine eye, dental and hearing exams or the expenses that may result from them. Dental, vision and hearing insurance can give you peace of mind and a better quality of life.
You may be able to find dental plans that cover a range of services including exams, X-rays, fillings, root canals, oral surgeries, full or partial dentures and more. Vision plans may include eye exams, corrective lenses, frames and even discounts on LASIK® or other vision correction procedures. And hearing insurance may cover hearing aid costs, which are notoriously high. There are inclusive plans that cover all three.
Talk to a trusted private insurance agent about Medicare Advantage Plans or Stand-Alone Plans that might meet your specific dental, vision and hearing needs.