Medicare Advantage plans filling dental benefits gap

Medicare provides 61 million beneficiaries nationwide with healthcare coverage. Dental services, however, are not included in standard Medicare benefits. As such, seniors and other Medicare recipients can face a dental coverage gap.

Part C Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are helping to fill that gap by covering some dental services as a supplemental benefit. MA dental benefits can range from basic preventive dental care to comprehensive coverage of all major dental services categories, can come as a value-added “free benefit” in a zero-premium MA plan, can be embedded in an MA plan carrying a premium, or can be offered as an optional “buy-up” benefit. The dental benefits offered in an MA setting may be administered by the MA plan itself or as part of a contracted arrangement with a dental insurer.

In this article, Milliman’s Joanne Fontana and Jacob Bryniarski, using publicly available data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), explore the current landscape of dental benefits offered in MA plans and discuss the ramifications for both insurers and consumers.