Approximately 10,000 seniors turn 65 every day and become eligible for Medicare for their health-related needs. Although Medicare covers many necessary health-related services, the fact is there are three routine services that Medicare does not cover—services that often affect a senior’s overall health and quality of life.
Some health plans for those under 65 offer some of these routine benefits for an additional premium. However, once a person enrolls in Medicare, these much-needed routine benefits are paid for 100% out of the beneficiary’s pocket without any financial assistance.
Here are the three routine services Medicare does not cover:
1. Routine dental care
Proper oral health is critical for everyone, and even more so for seniors. Research has shown that poor dental health often results in other health issues. Unfortunately, Medicare won’t pay for routine care like dental cleanings, fillings, and dentures. It also won’t cover most oral or gum surgeries. The only exception is for patients who need these exams or surgeries in conjunction with another medical procedure or issue.
That said, seniors do have options for securing dental coverage. First, you can buy dental insurance on your own, though the price of a plan might be so high that you’d be better off just paying for your dental care out of your pocket.
2. Hearing aids
People generally suffer significant hearing loss as they get older. This loss of hearing ability also results in several other health-related issues due to the isolation the loss of hearing ability brings. Again, Medicare coverage comes up short in this regard, which is unfortunate, as there is a vast array of hearing-aid technologies currently available, from simple and relatively inexpensive analog circuits to complex and expensive digital devices that require sophisticated fitting procedures. The average price of a digital hearing aid is about $1500, with top-of-the-line devices costing $3000 to $5000, according to the National Institutes of Health.
3. Vision services
Routine eye exams are crucial, since untreated issues can result in permanent damage. Ailments such as glaucoma and macular degenerations, along with a host of other ailments that affect a person’s vision, are often only diagnosed during a routine exam. Additionally, a large percentage of Americans, including seniors, rely on eyeglasses or contacts to see and function. Again, Medicare doesn’t pay for either eyeglasses or vision exams, though it generally does pay for eye care treatment that is medical in nature, such as an eye injury sustained during a fall. Similarly, it does pay for certain tests or treatments related to eye disease. Also, Medicare will pay for annual eye exams for diabetic retinopathy for those who have been diagnosed with diabetes, and it covers annual glaucoma tests for those deemed to be at high risk for the disease.
For seniors, health care is often the single greatest monthly expense. Knowing what Medicare does and does not pay for will help you budget properly for that period of your life.
You can consider enrolling in one of the many Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) available. These private plans are designed to replace original Medicare (Parts A and B) but maintain all the benefits of Parts A and B and usually include prescription drug coverage (Part D). Because these Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, many of them offer basic hearing, vision, and dental coverage as a benefit of the plan or as an optional supplemental benefit for an additional premium, resulting in some peace of mind that a portion of the costs for hearing, vision, and dental healthcare services may be covered.