How to Get Help for Dental, Vision, and Hearing Services
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How to Get Help for Dental, Vision, and Hearing Services

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April 17, 2014

Medicare pays for a range of health care services for older adults and persons living with disabilities.

But routine teeth cleaning, vision and hearing tests, eyeglass and hearing aid fittings, and similar procedures are not covered. 

Find out how you can get help paying for these services if you have trouble affording them.

What does Medicare cover?

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) covers the following services:

  • Dental
    Medicare will pay for dental services that are medically necessary prior to another Medicare-covered procedure. For example, Medicare may cover tooth extraction for a person with oral cancer prior to radiation treatment.
  • Vision
    Part B covers an annual glaucoma test for at-risk individuals, an annual exam to test for diabetic retinopathy among diabetics, certain diagnostic tests and screenings for macular degeneration, and cataract surgery plus one pair of post-surgery eyeglasses.
  • Hearing
    Part B covers diagnostic hearing and balance exams if a provider orders these tests to see if a person requires medical treatment for a condition other than hearing loss.

I have a private Medicare health plan/Medicaid. Will it cover these services?

If you are enrolled in a private Medicare Advantage plan, or you also have Medicaid, you should check with your plan to see what it covers. Medicare Advantage plans and Medicaid sometimes pay for services that are not covered under Original Medicare.

I cannot afford treatment. Where can I go for help?

Use the links and contact information below to see whether any of these programs can help you.

Dental

  • Some states offer stand-alone dental plans through the health insurance Marketplaces. People with Medicare are not eligible for subsidies to pay for these plans. Find your state Marketplace at HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace call center (available 24/7) at 1-800-318-2596.
  • Community Health Centers provide health services, including dental care, to those with limited incomes, usually on a sliding scale payment.
  • Local dental schools sometimes provide the community with lower cost services as a way of training new dentists and dental hygienists. Search for a nearby school at the American Dental Association or the American Dental Hygienists Association.
  • The Dental Lifeline Network runs a program offering free, comprehensive dental treatment to vulnerable people, including the elderly and those living with disabilities.

Vision

  • EyeCare America®, a service of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, provides free eye exams and up to one year of care for low-income individuals who qualify.
  • Mission Cataract USA offers free cataract surgery to those without insurance (including Medicare/Medicaid).
  • Vision USA, a program of the American Optometric Association, provides free eye exams for low-income Americans without insurance.

Hearing

Where else can I find help paying my medical and other expenses?

Here are a few additional resources that can help you save money:

  • BenefitsCheckUp® is the nation’s most comprehensive free, online service to screen seniors with limited income for benefits programs.
  • EconomicCheckUp® helps older adults improve their economic security by finding work, cutting spending, reducing debt, and using their home equity wisely.

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Need Help?

Having trouble paying your bills?

Get a free BenefitsCheckUp® to see if you qualify for help paying for medicine, food, utilities, and more.

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Turning 65?

Get personal recommendations on your options and eligibility.

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