As dental expenses continue to rise, seniors without dental insurance have begun to look for new alternatives. For many seniors, this means crossing the border to Mexico.
Each year, more and more Americans adopt a dental plan. Currently, about 60% of U.S. citizens are covered by dental insurance, the highest percentage of coverage in years. Despite this, a recent 2013 Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Oral Health America showed that nearly 70% of U.S. seniors do not have dental insurance. This leaves many seniors unable to access the care they need to protect their teeth.
Most government-based programs such as Medicare do not offer dental insurance, and many employers lack a post-retirement dental insurance program. While there are dental care insurance options through the recent Affordable Care Act, you can only buy this insurance after purchasing a general health care package, which many seniors already have. Because of this, many seniors push off or delay treatment, which can be detrimental to your health.
“Professional periodontal dentists suggest seniors seek regular treatment to avoid dental complications,” says Dr. Bordlemay, Coastal Empire Periodontics. “I would recommend a six month annual visit to their general dentist so that periodontal health can be maintained to avoid expensive surgical procedures and more importantly minor problems such as broken fillings can be managed earlier rather than later so that complete tooth breakdown is avoided.”
As a response to this, many seniors have decided to travel elsewhere for their dental work. Dental care in Mexico is much cheaper than it is in the U.S., thanks to lower labor costs and fewer regulations. Seniors seek places such as Los Algodones, where there are multiple Mexico dentists who speak English. Some of these dentistry practices even accept specific types of U.S. insurance.
Seniors who live in border areas aren’t the only ones who look to other countries for their dental care. A report by the Associated Press showed that many seniors in cities that are far away still seek to make appointments with Mexican dentists. For example, there is a shuttle that takes dental patients from the Phoenix area to Los Algodones, which is about a 200 mile trip.
In the past two decades, dental care costs have continue to grow. With an annual increased cost of 5%, more and more seniors are likely to look into alternative means to get affordable dental work. Before booking a trip, seniors should be sure to research the clinic and the surrounding area, to ensure that the practice ensures the proper safety protocols.