Dental Implants for Seniors on Medicare: Cut Costs 3 Ways

Medicare does not pay for oral care, including dental implants.

Seniors on fixed incomes find it challenging to afford treatment, especially when they need bridge or full-mouth replacement. This article suggests three ways to make treatment less expensive.

Millions of seniors can buy dental insurance covering implants with no waiting period, missing tooth exclusion, or annual benefit maximum. Learn if you qualify for 55% to 74% savings on treatment.

Free services from charities, contests, clinical trials, and manufacturers might help some seniors reduce costs. Dental implants are tax deductible. Medicare patients often save most on full-mouth replacements.

Dental Implant Insurance for Seniors

Seniors on Medicare can make dental implants more affordable with insurance that covers most costs. Many can buy an ideal plan, making treatment inexpensive, while some might already have limited coverage.

Retired Federal Employees

Seniors who worked for the federal government can buy dental insurance that cuts implant costs by 55% to 74%. The federal government, the largest US employer, can negotiate better benefits for millions of employees and retirees.

Best Coverage

The Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) offers the best dental insurance for implants. Eligible seniors can enroll in coverage with unique and favorable features:

  • No missing tooth exclusions
  • Unlimited annual benefits
  • No waiting period before benefits begin
  • Largest provider network
  • Lowest monthly premiums

The Blue Cross Blue Shield FEP dental insurance option includes all these coveted features. Unlimited annual benefits are very cost-effective for seniors needing full-mouth replacement.

Widely Available

Millions of seniors can enroll in BCBS FEP dental insurance, which offers features ideal for tooth implants.

Eligibility for FEDVIP depends on your federal government affiliation. Retired seniors may belong to one or more of these groups:

  • Active federal civilian and US Postal Service employees
  • Former federal civilian and USPS employees who retired on immediate annuity or for disability
  • An unmarried surviving spouse of an annuitant
  • A spouse of an eligible federal employee or annuitant
  • An injured former employee receiving workers’ compensation benefits
  • Retired uniformed service member
  • Retired military reserve members
  • Family members of veterans meeting specific exceptions
  • Surviving spouses of retired service members

Medicaid Eligible

Some Medicare seniors might have dental insurance for implants if they are also eligible for Medicaid. Low-income beneficiaries with limited resources may qualify for both programs.

Medicare Advantage

Some seniors with Medicare Advantage plans might have dental insurance for implants, but the cost savings are often minimal.

Some Medicare Advantage Plans cover dental implants, but the annual benefit limit is $1,500 to $2,000. This cap restricts the plan’s yearly payout.

An additional bonus is that in-network dentists cannot charge more than the plan’s allowed amount, with discounts reaching up to 50%.

Medicare Part B

Medicare Part B only covers dental work if it is medically necessary. Seniors with Part B might receive tooth implant cost assistance for two specific early-stage treatments:

  1. Reconstruction of the jaw following an accidental injury
  2. Tooth extractions in preparation for radiation treatment due to cancer

Free Services Cut Senior Implant Costs

Although senior citizens are unlikely to get dental implants for free, several assistance programs can help make treatment more affordable.

Charitable Organizations

Some senior citizens might receive free services from charitable organizations, reducing the cost of dental implants and other tooth replacement options.

Charities helping with dental implant costs often face high demand and limited resources, leading to long wait times before they can assist with tooth replacement. Some of these organizations include:

  • Dental Lifeline Network
  • Smiles for Everyone
  • Give Back a Smile
  • Dentistry from the Heart
  • Charitable Smiles
  • Mission of Mercy

Smile Makeover Contest

Some lucky seniors might receive free dental implants by winning a smile makeover contest, which local prosthodontists often hold to attract new patients and generate publicity.

Winning a free smile makeover can eliminate treatment costs. Still, it requires a strategy: find a local provider offering a contest and submit a winning entry.

Before and after photos of smiling seniors provide positive publicity, giving older adults an advantage.

Manufacturer Programs

Military veterans can reduce tooth replacement costs by obtaining free hardware, such as implants, abutments, and crowns, from manufacturers. However, the prosthodontist may still charge for installation.

Veterans can save by choosing providers who source components from specific manufacturers. Companies like ZimVie and Biotech Dental USA supply free appliances to prosthodontists treating veterans.

Clinical Trials

Some seniors with bone loss might get free dental implants by participating in clinical trials, which often offer no-cost care in exchange for participation.

Begin your search on the government clinical trials website using terms related to your condition and symptoms. Be aware that trials may also take place in other countries.

Keep in mind that clinical trials require volunteers who meet specific criteria. For example, one recent study recruited patients with poor bone quality and limited volume near the sinus.

Tax Savings Cut Full-Mouth Implant Costs

Tax savings under IRS rules are another way seniors can reduce dental implant costs. Retired seniors with high incomes will save the most on a full-mouth replacement.

Dental implants are tax deductible. Only seniors who itemize and have high medical costs will see sizeable savings. You can deduct medical expenses over 7.5% of your AGI to reduce your taxes.

Medicare Deductible

Seniors often meet the 7.5% AGI threshold more than younger adults. Medicare premiums are deductible as medical and dental expenses. The 20% coinsurance for Part B can add up quickly.

  • Medicare Premiums: A married couple with a $100,000 AGI pays $4,177 yearly for Part B and about $840 for Part D.
  • Medicare Coinsurance: A married couple with $10,000 in medical services pays $2,000 yearly in coinsurance.

These costs total $7,017, which brings the couple close to the $7,500 AGI threshold before any other deductible dental implant expenses. Seniors with Medigap or Advantage plans may have different results.

Full-Mouth Deductions

Compared to those with a single-tooth replacement, seniors who get full-mouth restorations in one year often meet the 7.5% AGI threshold.

For example, a married couple with a $100,000 AGI and no other medical costs sees no savings from a single-tooth replacement but does from a full-mouth restoration:

ExpenseAbove 7.5% AGI
Single Tooth$3,500$0
Upper Bridge$17,500$10,000

Seniors on Medicare have many ways to take a bite out of dental implant costs and show their affordable new smile.