Does Medicare Cover Glasses, Dentures, and More?

Routine dental care, hearing aids, and eyeglasses are excluded by law from Medicare coverage. While it doesn't cover dentures or major surgeries, such as root canals, it does offer a big advantage to hearing aids and vision equipment. Original Medicare doesn't provide coverage for most dental services, including cleanings, fillings, extractions, dentures, dental plates, and other devices. Eye exams for eyeglasses or contact lenses are also not covered by original Medicare.

You must pay 100% out of pocket for these services. However, some Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) offer benefits not included in Original Medicare. These may include dental and eye services. Despite what is still being said in television commercials, with Medicare, older people do not have “the right to eliminate co-pays and to receive dental care, dentures, eyeglasses, prescription drug coverage, home assistants, unlimited transportation and meals at home, all at no additional cost.” But if Democratic lawmakers in Congress have their way, older people could soon be entitled to some of those services.

Nearly all Medicare Advantage members who have access to dental coverage have preventive benefits and most have access to broader dental benefits. The shared costs of broader services are typically 50% for in-network care and are subject to an annual limit on plan payments. Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas, would include things like dentures, preventive and emergency dental care, refractive eye exams and eyeglasses, and hearing aids and exams. The Part B deductible applies and you must pay 20% of the cost of the doctor's services (based on the amount approved by Medicare).

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer released a summary of an upcoming budget bill that includes a directive to the Senate Finance Committee to expand Medicare “to include dental, eye and hearing benefits.” Most plans still pay no premiums, and some include a monthly refund that increases your Social Security check by reimbursing part or all of your Medicare Part B premium. Part A can pay for inpatient hospital care if you need to undergo complicated or emergency dental procedures, even if dental care isn't covered.So why are dental, eye and hearing coverages in the spotlight now that legislators are considering strengthening the program? One part may be selfish for legislators in charge of allocating funds. As for the cost-sharing amounts of dental, eye and hearing coverage, many plans don't report these figures. In cases where members' cost-sharing doesn't add up to 100%, it's because the plans don't report this data.

Once again, you pay 20% of the Medicare-approved cost of medical services and medications; the Part B deductible applies; as well as a co-pay if the service is provided in an outpatient hospital.The results of a recent KFF survey indicate that 90% of the population says that expanding Medicare to include dental, hearing and eye services is a “top” or “important” priority for Congress. Virtually all Medicare Advantage members have access to preventive dental benefits and most have access to broader dental benefits.You can pay for inpatient hospital care for complicated or emergency dental procedures that would not otherwise be covered. Medicare is funded by a combination of money that is paid directly to the government with paychecks and taxes paid by working Americans and their employers.And one final reason why eye, hearing and dental care haven't been added to standard Medicare is that they're far from the most significant gaps in the Medicare benefit package. Of the 4 million Medicare beneficiaries in Florida, approximately half have discovered a way to maximize their Medicare coverage by obtaining additional health care benefits at no cost.

Dora Peckens
Dora Peckens

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