Dental, Vision, and Hearing Plans (DVH)

It is increasingly recognized by health professionals that lack of access to dental, vision, and hearing care can pose serious risks for overall health. The absence of routine care can delay the diagnosis of some serious health conditions, leading to complications and more costly treatments later. Even when not associated with other health concerns, dental, hearing, and vision problems can seriously decrease your quality of life.

For more detailed information about Dental, Vision, and Hearing plans, please see this Guide.

Medicare Coverage

Traditional Medicare provides only limited dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Most Medicare Advantage (MA) plans cover some of these services, although MA enrollees with coverage still generally pay a high proportion of the cost of these services out of pocket; according to one study, 65 percent of vision, 76 percent of dental, and 79 percent of hearing costs.

Dental and Oral Health Care.
 About three-quarters of Medicare Advantage enrollees; about a quarter of all Medicare beneficiaries; have access to some dental coverage under their MA plan. Of those with dental benefits, one-third have coverage only for preventive services such as examinations, cleanings, and X-rays. Two-thirds have more extensive coverage. These dental benefits frequently come with additional premiums, cost-sharing, and limits on the amount of coverage.

Overall, the majority of people on Medicare have no dental coverage

Vision Care
Traditional Medicare does not cover examinations for prescribing or fitting eyeglasses, or refractive examinations, or eyeglasses except after cataract surgery. It does cover eye care related to illness or injury of the eye, including cataract surgery, glaucoma screening, eye examinations for persons with diabetes, and certain tests and treatments for age-related macular degeneration. Almost four-fifths of MA enrollees have access to eye exams or glasses.

 Hearing Care
Traditional Medicare excludes coverage for routine hearing tests and hearing aids. However, it covers a “hearing and balance exam” if needed to diagnose another health condition, such as dizziness. Nearly three-quarters of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in plans that provide some benefit for hearing aids. However, typical MA plans that provide some coverage for hearing aids pay between $800 and $1,000 every three years, which only covers half the cost of the least expensive devices.

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