You might think about getting your teeth and gums checked at least once a year and going to the eye doctor annually might also be on your to-do list. But have you thought about checking your hearing? read more
Senior Dental Health Articles
In retirement, seniors can certainly expect federal and state programs to cover some medical costs; however, most dental and vision care services will require either out-of-pocket payment or the purchase of a standalone plan. Once earned income stops flowing in, retirement financial planning can be a stressful and intimidating task. Here is some information on dental and vision care to help with retirement planning. Medicare Most retirees qualify for Medicare coverage after age 65. Medicare Part A, the coverage that is provided without premium to seniors, provides insurance for inpatient and hospital expenses, but it would only apply to dental and vision care administered during hospital stays or in emergency situations. Medicare Part A would not pay for most dental and vision care. Supplemental and elective portions of the Medicare program allow people to pay premiums for expanded coverage. Of note to dental and vision care are Medicare Part B and Part C. Part B is meant to address outpatient services, doctor visits, and preventive care, but it is limited for dental and vision. Cataract surgery, prosthetics for some complicated issues, and certain screenings fall under Part B, whereas routine exams and corrective lenses do not. Similarly, Part B will pay for dental care in complex cases related to surgeries or larger systemic medical issues, while routine visits, cleanings, extractions, dentures, and similar services do not fall under the plan. Private insurance companies that adhere to certain guidelines offer Medicare Part C, also known as a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan. This plan is meant to replace Parts A and B, while providing other features that individuals may prefer. The terms and features of MA insurance vary among carriers and packages, but they frequently provide coverage for routine care including dental and vision. This typically requires a higher monthly premium than policyholders would pay otherwise, but the benefits are obvious for people who want to avoid paying out-of-pocket for certain services. Medicaid Medicaid may also be a viable option for some people in retirement. This federal and state program provides coverage to low-income individuals and households, and 11% of Americans above the age of 65 are enrolled in those plans. Eligibility criteria vary from state to state, but it may be wise for seniors who are struggling to meet their monthly cash expenses to explore these options. The services that fall under Medicaid vary among states, but Medicaid may pick up many routine exams and urgent procedures not covered by Medicare. Private Insurance Finally, seniors can also purchase standalone policies from private insurers that cover the gaps left by Medicare. Major health insurance carriers offer plans that will pay in part or in whole for routine dental and vision services. These plans can be purchased in the healthcare marketplace, and monthly premiums typically range from $15 to $60 for each. Planning Ahead When planning for vision and dental care in retirement, meeting regular and unexpected cash flow requirements will be among the chief issues that must be addressed, and retirees should be realistic about their medical expenses when determining their budgets. Dental and vision care are necessary for many people, and these services are almost certainly going to come with expenses that must be factored into decisions pertaining to retirement age, Social Security payments, and distributions from retirement accounts. Ryan Downie is a consultant and former equity research analyst and financial planner with a BA in economics from Notre Dame. Sources: https://www.prb.org/majority-of-people-covered-by-medicaid-and-similar-programs/#:~:text=Adults%20ages%2065%20and%20older,represent%20just%20under%202%20percent. https://www.ehealthmedicare.com/medicare-coverage-articles/medicare-vision-benefits/ https://www.healthmarkets.com/content/medicare-part-b-dental-coverage https://www.hhs.gov/answers/medicare-and-medicaid/what-is-medicare-part-c/index.html
Medicare and Medicaid are the two large government-facilitated healthcare programs in the United States. Their similar names may cause some confusion, but the programs differ in terms of funding, eligibility, intended use, and administration. Medicare is a federal program designed to provide healthcare coverage to retirees. Medicaid provides coverage to low-income individuals and families, and it is administered by a combination of federal and state agencies. While some people qualify for both, the target beneficiaries are different. Medicare Basics Medicare is primarily for people older than 65, though people with certain diseases and disabilities are also included. It has three primary segments. Part A is hospital insurance that covers inpatient care. There generally is no monthly premium paid, because it is covered by payroll taxes paid throughout a person’s working life. Medicare Part B covers other medical expenses such as doctors, outpatient care, and certain home health services. It is meant to supplement Part A, and it generally requires monthly premiums paid by the insured. Medicare Part D is a prescription drug insurance plan, and it also generally requires monthly premiums. You may have noticed that Medicare Part C isn’t one of the three primary elements of Medicare. Part C does exist, but it functions differently because it offers government-approved health plans available for purchase from private insurance companies. These are often called Medicare Advantage plans, and they function like an HMO or PPO that may be more advantageous or preferable for some individuals. Medicare will typically pay a set portion of the monthly premium, and the insurers must follow certain rules, but variations exist in other plan terms, such as out-of-pocket cost. Medicare is an important piece of most people’s financial plan in retirement because people no longer have coverage through their employer during the years when they are likely to incur most of their healthcare expenses. You can go to the program’s website at medicare.gov for more information regarding costs, eligibility, and to enroll. You should consider all of your likely healthcare needs, as well as your retirement monthly income relative to cash requirements, before deciding which parts of the Medicare program to select. Medicaid Basics Federal and state governments jointly run Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage to low-income Americans, with roughly 25% of the population receiving benefits.  The terms and implementation of Medicaid vary state-to-state, meaning eligibility and covered treatments depend on where you live. Generally, eligible people and households can sign up for coverage either through the state program or an approved private insurance company. A combination of state and federal governments will pay for the cost of care. The federal government guarantees to match state expenditure and provide additional programs. Medicaid was expanded significantly in 2010 with the Affordable Care Act, with most states increasing eligibility to those falling within 133% of the federal poverty level. From a financial planning perspective, Medicaid programs have limited applications. If you are unable to afford the healthcare coverage that you need, you should visit your state’s Medicaid website to determine eligibility. It can be a great way to reduce monthly expenses and eliminate the risk of incurring a major future liability from expensive medical procedures. Medicaid comes into play for many seniors, especially those who require home care, nursing homes, or long-term care. Those bills can easily exceed $7,000 monthly in years when retirees are working on fixed budgets without prospects of earned income. Even seniors with sufficient assets to cover those expenses often explore Medicaid trust planning, in which they transfer assets to a trust controlled by a reliable loved one. Funds in the trust would not impact Medicaid eligibility, but those assets could still be distributed for the retiree’s benefit. Steps to Take Medicaid and Medicare are both government-run medical insurance programs, but they are administered in different ways. Many people qualify for both programs, and it is wise to determine eligibility if you are a senior, disabled, or from a low-income household. Ryan Downie is a consultant and former equity research analyst and financial planner with a BA in economics from Notre Dame. Sources: https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/program-information/medicaid-and-chip-enrollment-data/report-highlights/index.html
In retirement, you have options for collecting Social Security benefits. This can be a confusing or stressful decision that can have major ramifications, and there’s no going back once you’ve selected a path. Since there no universal rule exists to optimize retirement, the best option depends on a number of factors, including your birth year, how much you have paid into the system, other sources of income, and anticipated lifestyle and healthcare needs. Ultimately, the decision should be made in the context of an overall financial plan, and you should focus on ensuring your cash flow needs will be covered. Different Benefits at Different Ages Seniors can start collecting Social Security retirement benefits at any point between the ages of 62 and 70. The full retirement age is currently 66 years and two months, but it is rising to 67 for people born after 1960, and it may continue to rise. Delaying collection will increase the amount you receive. If you start collecting at 62, you will only receive 70% of your full benefit, whereas delaying payments to 70 will result in monthly distributions of 124% of your full retirement benefit. In 2021, the maximum monthly benefit for someone beginning payments at age 62 will be $2,324. The maximum for someone starting payments at 70 will be $3,895. For reference, the average retiree is collecting just over $1,500 each month, but the age dynamics are the same regardless of benefit level. The bonus for delaying Social Security payments is one of the trickiest factors in determining retirement age. Having cash now is a good thing, but having larger guaranteed monthly payments is also important. From the standpoint of total aggregate income through average life expectancy, full retirement age is the best time to start taking benefits. People in the United States who reach 65 years of age have a life expectancy of approximately 82.5. This means that somebody taking the maximum monthly payout at age 62 would collect, on average, $571,704. That same person choosing to delay collection until age 70 would receive $584,250 through average life expectancy. Starting at 66 and two months tops both of those, leading to lifetime collections of $610,148. The system is designed around life expectancy, so this should not be surprising. Unfortunately, the decision isn’t as simple as maximizing total benefits. While starting at 62 will reduce the amount you collect each month, that head start will take almost 16 years to overcome in terms of cumulative income if you wait until full retirement. Retirees need to focus on balancing monthly cash flows. The Rest of Your Financial Plan The major risks in retirement generally revolve around covering cash needs. Retirees may fall into lower tax brackets and no longer need income to pay off a mortgage, build savings, or support children. However, healthcare spending will likely rise, and freeing up 40 hours each week means that retirees deal with the clichéd “every day is a Saturday.” Inflation drives up the cost of living, and commonplace luxuries like cell phones and internet can cause basic lifestyle spending to rise. Retirees should be realistic about these monthly or annual cash outflows, build in some wiggle room for uncertainty, and analyze their budget relative to sources of income. Many people have accumulated savings in retirement accounts or investment portfolios, and most planners believe that you can withdraw 3% of the total value of these accounts each year safely. Many people also have pensions or private annuities that will deliver guaranteed income in retirement. If a cash flow shortfall occurs in retirement, taking Social Security at 62 may be the only viable option. If the early years are fine, but you are concerned about healthcare expenses in your 80s, then it might make sense to delay as long as possible. The right age to take Social Security benefits depends on many factors, and you should base the decision on cash needs in the context of an overall plan. Ryan Downie is a consultant and former equity research analyst and financial planner with a BA in economics from Notre Dame. Sources: https://www.nasi.org/learn/socialsecurity/retirement-age#:~:text=Currently%2C%20the%20full%20benefit%20age,they%20will%20be%20reduced%20more https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/examplemax.html https://www.ssa.gov/history/lifeexpect.html
Is it safe to go through with a dental procedure if you’re taking blood thinners for any reason? After all, certain treatments, such as extractions and gum surgery, as well as cleanings, can lead to bleeding. What if you’re taking a blood thinner and it’s hard to stop the bleeding? That’s a frightening scenario! To learn more, check out the info below. With a better understanding of the effects of blood thinners on dental care, you’ll know what to expect. Weighing the Risks: Should You Change the Way You Take Your Medicine? Your dentist will weigh the risks based on the type of blood thinner your doctor has prescribed. For example, if you’re taking an anticoagulant like warfarin or apixaban, or you need to take an antiplatelet like aspirin or clopidogrel, you may not need to change anything about your routine prior to undergoing a dental treatment. That’s because the risks of not taking these medications as prescribed are likely to be greater than bleeding that might occur from the dental procedure. Also, if your dentist determines that bleeding can be controlled rather easily, he or she will probably tell you that it’s fine to continue taking your medications as you normally would. On the other hand, if you’ve been diagnosed with other health problems that boost the odds of excessive bleeding, the risk might be too high. And the risk might also be too great if you’re taking other medications that can increase bleeding. In these cases, your dentist might want to talk to your doctor about what steps need to be taken to keep you safe while working on making your teeth and gums as strong as possible. In the end, it all depends on various factors, such as: The medications that you’re taking Any other conditions that you’ve been diagnosed with The risk of bleeding associated with the procedure you need No matter what, your dentist should work with your doctor to determine if you need to change anything about the way you take your medications, even if it means just altering the timing of your doses to reduce the risk of excessive bleeding. Always Let the Dentist Know About Your Blood Thinners! It’s important to let your dentist know if you’re taking any medications, including any type of blood thinner, and if you’ve ever experienced complications from taking your prescriptions. In addition to disclosing the medicine you take, it’s also wise to let him or her know about your medical history. That way, he or she can take your overall health into consideration too. Plus, this information can shed more light on why you need to take blood thinners, and if you need to take them for a short span of time or if you need them for the long run. With the help of all of these details, your dentist can tell you how to proceed if you’re planning on having your teeth cleaned or you need any type of treatment, from fillings and root canals to extractions and implant surgery, that can cause bleeding. If you do need to change anything about the way you take your blood thinner, your dentist and doctor might recommend: Not taking the medicine before the procedure Changing the type of blood thinner you’re taking Changing the dose that you’re taking Changing the time of day that you take your dose Don’t Stop Using a Medication Unless You’re Told to Do So The good news is that you may not need to change a thing if you’re taking blood thinners and need a dental treatment. In fact, stopping use of the medication might be far more risky, especially since your dentist can use various strategies to stop any bleeding that occurs. For example, socket packing, pressure, and stitches might all be used to keep everything under control. Ultimately, every patient is unique, so your dentist can work with your doctor to figure out the benefits versus the risks of taking blood thinners before an oral health procedure. The key is to be upfront about your health so your dentist has all of the info necessary to give you the right advice on how to proceed. Sources: https://www.aaom.com/index.php?option=com_content&%3Bview=article&%3Bid=126:blood-thinners-and-dental-care&%3Bcatid=22:patient-condition-information&%3BItemid=120 https://www.ada.org/member-center/oral-health-topics/oral-anticoagulant-and-antiplatelet-medications-and-dental-procedures
How long do you think it takes to form a habit? Well, on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. Whether these tasks are already a frequent occurrence, or you need to start putting an emphasis on change, they’ll help your smile and health stand the test of time. 1. Daily Oral Care If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 35% of the tooth surface! Make brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing part of your routine. Food particles can get stuck in the crevices of your teeth and without constant maintenance, plaque and tartar can start to form. 17.2% of adults 65 and older have periodontal disease and 10.6% have a severe case.* Although periodontal disease is a step before gum disease, it just goes to show how susceptible you can become without taking the proper steps for prevention. 2. Keep Up with Dental Appointments As we get older, or oral needs change. Keeping to a regular schedule with a 6-month check-up or even an every 3-month visit can make a huge difference when it comes to catching a problem. As mentioned, periodontal disease is a real concern as it can turn into gum disease if not properly taken care of. We suggest finding a dentist you like, and booking your yearly appointments all at once. Once on the schedule, you’ll more than likely receive a reminder call from your dentist about a week out. Setting them in advance allows you to put it out of sight and out of mind. 3. Quit Smoking This one probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Smoking has been a habit among many for years, and the addictive qualities have been proven. Whether you smoke, don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, or have never picked up a cigarette, we think everyone should be aware of the effects: Tooth discoloration Increased buildup of plaque and tartar Lower success rate of dental implants and delayed healing process for periodontal treatment or oral surgery Increased risk of developing oral cancer If you’re looking for a little more incentive to help you quit, visit YouTube. We’re sure there are a few videos that might be scary enough to make even the most avid smoker think twice. 4. Eat Well An apple a day can keep the doctor away. It might not actually keep the doctor away, but with the right nutrition, you are doing your body a tremendous service. Your mouth and oral habits are connected to your overall health, so making the right choice has a full-body effect! What happens when you watch what you eat? Your chances of getting gum disease or tooth decay lessen Eating certain foods can help promote healthy teeth and bones, reducing the risk of tooth loss You will experience an increase in energy Your daily digestion can improve Eating well can be fun. Head to Pinterest or your favorite cookbook for inspiration! These four habits should be embraced by all and not just 65 years and old. If you are a senior, making these part of your routine can help you lead by example for friends and family members. Plus, a smile is one of the prettiest things you can wear, help make yours last a lifetime!
Taking care of yourself and your body is a top priority as you age. Staying healthy can help you stay younger longer, but it is important to stay knowledgeable about potential happenings so you can safeguard yourself against future problems. The Facts A recent study done by the American Dental Association noted that 66% of adults ages 65 and over have no dental coverage. The study also mentioned that, for the most part, Medicare has never covered comprehensive dental benefits for seniors.* Refusing to purchase dental coverage can potentially result in large out-of-pocket expenses when a problem appears. Speaking to that point, findings from a past dental survey noted that the average dental out-of-pocket costs per household were $873 which is more than one-quarter (27%) of overall health care out-of-pocket costs.** "A recent study done by the American Dental Association noted that 66% of adults age 65 and over have no dental coverage." Peace of Mind for Seniors The age-old question, “what could happen to me,” typically tends to arise when discussing insurance and preventive care. Well, teeth are like bones and over time, they will start to decay. The CDC Division of Oral Health noted that about 25 percent of adults 60 years old and older no longer have any natural teeth.*** As we age, we develop a new set of oral health needs. Purchasing a dental plan that can cover major services like crowns, root canals, implants, dentures, and bridges can save you hundreds in the long run. "25% of adults 60 years old and older no longer have any natural teeth." Besides having the security of knowing you are covered for a major expense, how does your purchase help you now? Spirit Dental plans cover three cleanings per year which will provide you with today’s standard of care. Each plan also offers guaranteed acceptance and allows you to select a personal dentist. With personalized care, your regular (covered) visits can help your dentist detect and evaluate any issue as it emerges--all while you’re secure in the knowledge that you’ve got the financial support to handle it. Maintaining good oral health only helps in maintaining good overall health. You only have one vessel to get you through life, make sure you’re protecting it. Seniors, a small investment now can help you save down the road. Purchase today, use tomorrow. *Source: National Association of Dental Plans, February 2014 **Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, April 2009 ***Source: CDC Division of Oral Health, July 2013