Mike – Alabama: I am 65 and trying to find an insurance plan that mainly covers dental and hearing, including hearing aids. I found one, but it only covers $1,000 a year and the hearing aids are approximately $5,500. This doesn’t sound like a very viable plan considering the premium is about $400 a year.
Marilyn – Missouri: I have a Medicare Advantage plan. I need hearing aids and have only one molar left. Our yearly income is around $44,000. Do you have any suggestions?
The only way older Americans will get better dental, hearing and vision protection is if Congress decides that this benefit should be provided.
Phil Moeller: As Mike and Marilyn have discovered, dental and hearing insurance plans are skimpy. The underlying reason is that nearly everyone with these policies needs dental and hearing help. If the insurance paid a high percentage of expenses, the insurers would go out of business. They, of course, would like to make a profit, so they price their products accordingly.
Marilyn should compare Medicare Advantage plans sold in her area and see if any have better coverage than the plan she now has. People can sign up for new plans each year betweem Oct. 15 and March 31, and during other times of the year as well if they move or have other special circumstances.
Expanding Medicare to include dental benefits gets lots of headlines. But the only way older Americans will get meaningful gains in dental, hearing and vision protection is if Congress decides that this benefit should be provided and largely funded by taxpayers through Medicare and Medicaid subsidies. In the meantime, good quality, and much cheaper, over-the-counter hearing aids increasingly are available.