News Room


Media Release
September 30, 2014
Lisa Talcott
For immediate Release

What Every Retiree Needs to Know About Open Enrollment, Dental Coverage, and Medicare

St. Paul - September 30, 2014

Open enrollment is just around the corner. As you prepare to finalize your health insurance selections for 2015, there are a few things you should know about retiree health care your dental coverage. A growing number of American employers are dropping their dental benefits, especially for their retirees. To make matters worse, in spite of the persistent myth that Medicare provides dental insurance, the fact is, in nearly all cases, Medicare does NOT provide dental care insurance. In other words, you need to add one more step to your open enrollment process: shop for dental insurance in the private marketplace. It's an unwelcome surprise, and an overwhelming one. Too often, when retirees learn the costs of stand-alone dental insurance, they decide to skip it altogether. What may seem like a way to save money ends up being a costly mistake. Treating dental insurance like a luxury can be dangerous to your health.

The Dental-Medical Connection

According to the Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), regular dental check-ups – and the prompt treatment of any dental issues they uncover – are keys to warding off serious illness. Indeed, countless studies show the link between gum disease and medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Yet 75% of American adults have periodontal disease and don't even know it, increasing their risks of complications associated with these other diseases. And nearly 20% of people age 65 and over, have untreated dental cavities, putting them at risk for potentially fatal infections.

The simple truth is, regular dental care is not a luxury.

It is a necessity, albeit an increasingly unattainable one. In his recent Huffington Post article, journalist and health care reform advocate, Wendell Potter discusses how the inadequacies of a typical dental insurance plan can end up creating prohibitive out-of-pocket expenses. Potter worries that such costs lead many of us to delay those trips to the dentist, putting our overall physical health at risk.

An Open Invitation from Tom Mayer

Tom Mayer, Spirit Dental's founder and CEO, agrees. He says he designed Spirit Dental's insurance products to address the concerns that retirees face today, "because I wanted to change this industry. I wanted to see dramatically improved, affordable dental insurance for people like my own dad." Mayer's father, a school janitor, was a diabetic who suffered the many dental complications associated with diabetes. "By January of each year, he would have his annual deductible spent. The rest of the year, he paid for everything himself."

According to Mayer, the key to that change is education. "We designed to educate consumers, take the confusion out of the research process, and provide fast, accurate quotes with side-by-side comparisons. This Open Enrollment Period, I invite everyone to take 30 seconds out of your day. Get dental insurance quotes from Spirit Dental, along with our (much larger) competitors. You will see the differences." After that, says Mayer, consumers can choose their next step: "sign up with Spirit Dental or go back to the giant insurance companies and ask them why they won't offer you $3,500 annual maximums, no waiting periods, and coverage of major procedures," says Mayer. Either outcome would be a success to him. "I'm not trying to grow Spirit Dental a lot bigger," says Mayer. "I'm trying to change the national conversation about dental insurance."

Founded in 2003, Direct Benefits and Spirit Dental provide individual and group dental and vision insurance through over 5500 independent insurance agents, serving thousands of individuals & 5000+ employers in all 50 states. To learn more about Spirit Dental and Tom Mayer, please visit us at Click here to get your Spirit Dental 30 Second Quote.


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