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Periodic Contributor

AARP/UHC Medicare Advantage dental benefits

In the past 6 months I have had to change dentists twice - dental practices in my area are opting out of the AARP branded United Health Care MA dental networks.  UHC, and by extension, AARP, have selected Dentemax as the underwriter for their dental coverage and both practices  tell me that they can no longer accept the low reimbursements from AARP/UHC.  And while my plan pays the same for in-network and out of network dentists, out of network doesn't have negotiated rates and leaves me on the hook for the difference.  Plus, zero deductible benefits (annual checkups, cleanings, etc.) "may" incur additional costs (according to AARP/UHC).  That means "will."

 

I understand that there are still literally hundreds of dentists in my area that WILL accept the Dentemax arrangement, but this looks to be an ever-shrinking and evermore desperate pool of providers.  That's not a formula for quality care, and no, AARP, I'm not interested in having my concern tossed over the transom to the UHC side.  Your name is on it, I bought it because of your reputation.

 

My real question is why doesn't AARP address this?  I can't be the first member they've heard from on this issue.  I'm willing to pay (slightly) more for coverage that is actually a usable benefit, but I'm not willing to continuously change dentists every time somebody wises up.  This is a perfect opportunity for AARP to say "We listen to our membership and recognize that this is a problem.  So AARP/UHC plans will now offer this new dental benefit that cost a bit more but serves our members better."

 

Instead, we get crickets, and another "how not to get scammed" article.  Ironic.

 

 

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Regular Contributor

Hi Bryan, I am sorry to hear about the frustrations you have gone through with having to change dentists due to the network changes of your dental benefits through your Medicare Advantage Plan, insured by UnitedHealthcare. While I do understand your concerns and will share your feedback appropriately, it is important to note that AARP is not the insurer, and we are not in any position to address this matter directly. This issue is between the dental provider and UnitedHealthcare. You would need to speak with UnitedHealthcare directly with any questions regarding their networks and pricing. We always recommend that customers enroll in the plan that best suits their needs, and there may be other Medicare Advantage Plans with UnitedHealthcare that have different dental networks to better suit your needs.

 

Please know that our priority will always be to ensure that the products and services that carry the AARP brand meet our standards and provide value to our members. It would be helpful if you could send me a direct message and include your name and address, UnitedHealthcare Member ID, and phone #, so that I can document your feedback for the area you live in and plan you're insured in. Alternatively, you may also call AARP toll-free at 1 (888) 687-2277 and request to open an escalation with the Member Relations Team. We can share your feedback appropriately through either form of contact. 

- Stephanie B.

Periodic Contributor

Hi Stephanie -

 

Thanks for the reply, and just so you know, I'm completely aware that AARP is not the insurer.  But they are the marketer and endorser, and the plan has the AARP name on it, so please, let's not pretend that AARP is powerless in this situation.  And BTW, all AARP/UHC MA plans use the Dentemax network, even the "Platinum Rider."  So AARP doesn't currently endorse or market any MA plans that have dental coverage not subject to this problem.

 

Also, I'm not sure you understand - I'm being forced to change plans a second time.  Both practices tell me the reimbursements are inadequate and that they must leave the network.  Twice in six months - I have no reason to believe that this trend won't continue.

 

I'll DM you my info for your records.

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Honored Social Butterfly

@BryanC825707 wrote

. . . . . Both practices tell me the reimbursements are inadequate and that they must leave the network.  Twice in six months - I have no reason to believe that this trend won't continue.

========================

I cannot speak specifically to your AARP-branded plan but I have many friends that are dentist - some general, others specialized - NONE of them take any form of dental insurance or even discount programs.  They have thriving practices with many of their patients being long term returnees.   They do offer a cash discount and they can offer payment plans for those who have been with them for a long time and need some type of expensive work done.

 

Having a good and reliable dentist is worth it's weight in gold IMO - jumping around from plan to plan from dentist to dentist doesn't suite me or my healthcare plan.

 

Of course, nobody will say it, but getting dentist to participate in any program (even Medicaid or Medicare) is very difficult because of the reimbursement rate from the government or Medicare plan.

 

Since this would be a cost born under Medicare Part B or some new alphabet designation - how much more in premiums are you willing to pay?

 

 

 

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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Periodic Contributor

Gail -

 

I believe you are correct - dental practices accepting insurance will become a thing of the past and it will become a directly billed service.  For whatever reason, the health care industry views teeth as "luxury bones," and isn't particularly interested in dental health.  And like you, I appreciate a good dentist, which is why this situation is so distressing.

 

It's really not so much about the benefit; I get $1000/year, max - or as I like to call it "a half a crown."  But enrollment does get me negotiated rates which are significantly less than what the dentist asks from the uninsured.  So my portion is less.  Perhaps a cash discount can offset this somewhat.

 

Also, with only a few, very rare exceptions, government medicare, aka "original medicare," offers no dental coverage at all, so government influence on dental reimbursement rates is not a thing.

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Honored Social Butterfly

@BryanC825707 wrote

with only a few, very rare exceptions, government medicare, aka "original medicare," offers no dental coverage at all, so government influence on dental reimbursement rates is not a thing.

 

You are forgetting Medicaid and CHIPS both of which cover some dental care - preventive perhaps and lifesaving - not much in between.  But the reimbursement rate for both is dismal so few dentist participate and even fewer specialist.

 

@BryanC825707 wrote

For whatever reason, the health care industry views teeth as "luxury bones," and isn't particularly interested in dental health. 

 

I don't think that at all - IMO, the problem has more to do with deciding what would be covered and at what price and if the dental professionals could work within that frame.  

 

Other places to get dental care - 

  • Cheap - at a dental school - course you might be the experiment of the day. LOL
  • Costa Rica - lots of American dentist have set up practice there - combine vacation with dental care - as long as one doesn't affect the other too much.

 

It's Always Something . . . . Roseanna Roseannadanna
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your website messes around and can't stay on the site so i can type here!!!!--the site itseld moves and throws me off. great stuff--.no one wants medicare advantage and medicaid in Eugene Oregon many dental employees in Eugene and Lane county Oregon.ALL QUIT AND DUMPED MEDICAE!!!   They hate it ill have to pay cash to get a dentists!!!  im not kidding no one wanrs this aarp advantage insurance!!!  they tell me irs worthless and no one will take it!!!i have to go to "charity for homeless and poor uninsured clinic" that's it.and it takes many months to get any appts. --AARP MEDICARE IS NO GOOD HERE!! NO O0NE WILL ACCEPT IT--I still can't get more ent doctors after my horrible ear infections--the hospital ER IS MY DOCTOR,EAR NOSE AND THROAT, . THAT IS IT.,medicare used to have real dental if you went to dental school--ill have to find a decent dental school that will take me,and pay cash.Medicare advantage and medicxaid here resulted in  a whole medicaid clinic dumping all their appts cause all their staff quit!!!  they walked out!! Many seniors aND DISABLED HAD APPTS FOR DENTAL, AND THE PLACE NO LONGER HAS ANY STAFF!!  I will have to do searches online myself,call em all up.--everyone in Oregon hates medicare and medicaid,Many doctors and medical people quit and left the state permanently.   Liberal Oregon is such a loser--hippie big pile of s___!!---I don't have a choice about living here,---I hate it mostly, so "gentrified" i  and  terrible hippie-drug culture. METH ADDICTS WALKING AROUND DOWN TOWN.. ILL end up paying a dentist big bucks just to keep my few teeth. 

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