What should senior citizens on Medicare do if they need dentures but can’t afford them?
Pursuing free Medicare dentures leads nowhere because the program does not cover false teeth. Therefore, you will have to adopt alternative strategies.
Fortunately, low-income elderly patients on fixed incomes and cancer patients can employ unique angles to find pro bono care.
Likewise, government grants for dentures are a dead end because money does not flow from agencies directly to individuals. Instead, it goes to large organizations.
However, the government offers various financial assistance programs using other names that make getting dentures more reasonable.
Free Medicare Dentures for Seniors
Seniors can look for free Medicare dentures, but that does not mean you will find them without getting creative. Original Medicare does not cover “services in connection with the care, treatment, filling, removal, or replacement of teeth.”
Consider these out-of-the-box avenues if you need dentures but can’t afford them.
Low-income seniors living on fixed retirement benefits cannot get free Medicare dentures directly but could tap into other sources to make their false teeth more affordable.
Medicaid covers dentures for adults in thirty-three states, so low-income seniors living in poverty in one of these regions can get free false teeth provided they choose the least expensive alternative.
Dual-eligible Medicare Medicaid recipients fall into one of five categories while meeting federal poverty guidelines.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients
- Qualified Medicare Beneficiary (QMB)
- Specified Low-Income Medicare Beneficiary (SLMB)
- Qualifying Individual (QI)
- Qualified Disabled Working Individual (QDWI)
Dental charities for adults might provide free dentures for low-income seniors on Medicare. Just be prepared to wait in a long line for pro bono care as the demand for these services outstrips supply by a wide margin.
Charitable organizations and sliding scale clinics rely on the generosity of donors, so the number of patients they can treat at no charge is limited. The lucky recipients often fall into a disadvantaged group such as the elderly, disabled, and medically fragile.
Dental grants for low-income adults could allow seniors on Medicare to get free dentures and other types of oral care. Grants represent money you do not have to repay, so expect plenty of competition seeking these awards.
Please go into the process with a healthy dose of skepticism. Many private companies market grant programs as a scheme designed to attract profitable patients to dentists eager to grow their revenues.
Dig below the surface and read the fine print before starting treatment.
Dental procedures covered by medical insurance could help senior cancer patients score free Medicare denture services – at least for the earliest treatment steps.
The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) states explicitly that the program covers at least two early-stage denture treatments.
- Tooth extractions in preparation for radiation treatment for jaw cancer
- Reconstruction of the jaw after accidental injury for non-cancer patients
While paying a discounted rate for dentures, free Medicare tooth extractions are viable for many seniors. Sign up for an Advantage plan that includes dental coverage during the next annual open enrollment.
However, Medicare Advantage plans that cover dentures might contain exclusions that limit the benefits paid for specific procedures.
- Missing tooth exclusions
- Annual benefit maximum
The cost of dentures with Medicare Advantage might equal the retail price if you sign up with already missing teeth due to the exclusion. However, the plan might cover a portion of future tooth extraction costs and provide lower in-network fees for the false teeth.
Government Grants for Dentures
Government grants for free dentures will prove challenging to find because no federal agency provides awards directly to seniors for personal use. Instead, the grant money flows to state programs, universities, and non-profit organizations.
Begin at the Grants.gov website to track the movement of federal funding, but do not expect to find much help. Follow a more reliable strategy instead. Apply alternative labels to everyday programs that assist patients who need dentures but can’t afford them.
The federal government provides interest-free denture financing grants for seniors that are still actively working via Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). Using an FSA to pay for your false teeth offers two benefits you probably never considered.
No credit check dental financing for dentures via your FSA is easy to establish. Elect to contribute during the annual open enrollment, and schedule the dental appointment at the beginning of the plan year.
Your employer must reimburse qualifying expenses immediately and cannot pull a copy of your consumer report to see any derogatory entries. You have up to 52-weeks to repay your employer without origination fees or interest charges.
Using FSA pre-tax dollars to pay for dentures also lowers your net costs significantly by reducing the income reported to the IRS and your state revenue authority. Lower W2 earnings minimize three levies you might otherwise have to pay to federal and state governments.
- Federal income taxes
- State income taxes
- FICA payroll taxes
The government also provides denture grants for seniors on Medicare in the form of heftier IRS tax refunds – for patients who plan accordingly.
Consolidating dental implant and denture expenses maximizes your tax deduction. Your unreimbursed medical and dental expenses are eligible in the year you receive treatment and pay the provider – provided you exceed two critical thresholds.
- Itemized deductions surpass the personal exemptions
- Unreimbursed medical and dental expenses top 7.5% of AGI
The elderly often accumulate significant unreimbursed medical expenses as their health deteriorates. Adding denture treatment costs and Medicare premiums into the mix helps them eclipse the 7.5% AGI floor.
Free government money for seniors can work as a grant for dentures because you do not have to pay back the funding. Older adults living on a fixed retirement income frequently meet federal poverty guidelines, unlocking a treasure-trove of financial assistance.
While these government assistance programs do not pay for your false teeth directly, they help you cut other regular living expenses, freeing up resources to pay the dentist.
Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) can also work as a government grant for dentures by helping an array of other services that could free up resources to pay the dentist.
PACE includes benefits for dentistry. However, only a specific subset of senior citizens on Medicare qualify.
- Age 55 or older
- Live in the service area of a PACE organization
- Eligible for nursing home care
- Be able to live safely in the community