In a recent article on the Kaiser Health News (KHN) website, author Phil Galewitz examines the true cost of added coverage for hearing, vision, and dental care in Medicare Advantage plans.
According to the article, Advantage plans’ selling points are often centered around low monthly costs and added coverages, though Galewitz warns that there may be significant out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Currently, hearing, vision, and dental are not covered by traditional Medicare, though progressives in Washington have been advocating for its inclusion as part of the sprawling Build Back Better Act. However, a recent KFF study cited in the article found that, “people in traditional Medicare paid on average about $992 for dental care in 2018 while those in Medicare Advantage plans paid $766.” For vision coverage, the cost differential was even more negligible: “people with traditional Medicare paid $242, compared with $194 for those covered by a Medicare Advantage plan.”
In addition to restrictions that include coverage limited to those with certain health conditions, consumers may only have a small network of providers to choose from or a maximum annual payout that restricts how much the plan pays before cost sharing kicks in.
The article also points out the sheer number of Medicare Advantage plans available in the market—currently numbering more than 30—along with the fact that nitty-gritty details regarding in-network providers and coverage limits can only be accessed by visiting each insurer’s website separately, making comparisons a daunting process.
Jenny Chumbley Hogue, an insurance broker and analyst at medicareresources.org quoted in the article, recommends her clients choose a plan that best suits their needs based on whether their doctor is covered or their medicines are available at a lower cost. She cautions that benefits for hearing aids may be restrictive, for example, and may only cover a certain type of device from a single company.
To read the article in its entirety, please click here.