Medicare and Dental, Eye, and Hearing Care

September 3, 2018     About this blog:  click here

Medicare and Dental, Eye, and Hearing Care

Everyone knows that Medicare pays towards doctor and hospital bills, but what about some of the other kinds of care most people need?  Let’s talk about Dental, Eye, and Hearing care.

You might be used to getting these things covered by health insurance before you get on Medicare, but things are different once you are on Medicare.

First we’ll look at what things are required by federal Medicare coverage, and then we’ll talk about what things you might get as part of an insurance policy you buy to go along with your Medicare.

  1. Benefits covered by the government’s Medicare program:

The general rule is that Medicare will pay for things that are deemed “medically necessary,” and will not pay for things which aren’t deemed as such.

Dental Care

Medicare does not pay anything for routine dental care, exams, cleanings, repairs, or dentures.

Medicare Part A does pay for some dental work in a few special circumstances which are treated in a hospital, such as emergency teeth reconstruction from an accident, or extraction of teeth that is needed due to medical disease.

Eye Care

Medicare pays for treatment of medical conditions and diseases of the eye, such as glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration, and others.  These medical eye problems are treated by an MD ophthalmologist, in a clinic or hospital.

However, Medicare does not pay anything towards the “routine” eye care of getting your vision checked (refraction) for corrective lenses.  It also will not pay anything towards the frame and lenses.

There are a couple of exceptions to this:  Medicare Part B will cover an annual eye exam once a year, if you have diabetes or are at high risk for glaucoma.  That’s in order to monitor a potential disease that can easily occur.

Also, if you have cataract surgery, Medicare will pay for one set of eyeglasses (standard frame) and the corrective lenses to restore your sight to normal.

Hearing Care

This one is simple.  Medicare does not pay anything towards getting your hearing checked, or for hearing aids.  These services are usually provided by audiologists.

The exception is that if your medical doctor thinks there could be something medically wrong with your ear, she/he can authorize a medical exam of your ear, and Medicare will pay towards it.  This can include checking the condition of your inner ear which can cause problems with balance.

  1. Benefits you can get with an insurance policy to supplement your Medicare:

Even though there are big gaps in what your government Medicare benefits are for teeth, eyes and ears, you can find some coverage for these things in an insurance policy you buy to supplement your Medicare.

The two main kinds of policies are Medicare Supplement policies, and Medicare Advantage policies.

Depending on where you live, there will be varying choices of different policies.  There is no requirement that any of them provide routine dental, eye or hearing care.  But, some do.

All of this means that you need to look closely when you shop for a policy.  Each policy you consider  might cover none of these three areas;  or one of them;  or two of them; or all three of them.

Medicare has a web site,   You can go to the section to compare Medicare insurance policies.  Enter your zipcode, and you’ll get information on what is available where you live.

In Minnesota, the Board on Aging has an on-line booklet, which you can reach here:

The booklet is called “Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare,” and for each policy listed, it tells which Minnesota counties it available in.

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