The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Dental Care for Seniors Limited in Chicago

Apr 26, 2021

Since dental coverage is not included in Medicare benefits, finding dental care can be a daunting task for unemployed seniors.

In Chicago, you can’t find dental insurance with decent coverage at a price that isn’t sky high.

Over the last several years, many dental offices have converted to “Smile” centers that specialize in providing expensive “smile makeovers” to high income customers.

Basic dental work like cleaning, cavity repair, and periodontal maintenance are not as profitable and take a back seat to cosmetic procedures.

One Illinois HMO plan requires the patient to pay 70% of teeth deep cleaning and crown procedure costs. So all you get for your insurance premiums is a discount on the total cost!

And once you sign up, there are a lot of hoops to jump through.

It’s hard to find a dentist close by that accepts the plan, since most dentists only accept higher income patients who can pay for more expensive insurance and more extensive dental procedures.

Once you have paid for the HMO plan, it isn’t until the following month that service is available to you. You can’t set up an appointment or get service until you are listed on the monthly “roster” of HMO patients accepted for service. If your name doesn’t appear on the “roster” for some reason, you can be denied service for that month. HMO patients also must contend with long wait time for appointments.

But this plan and some others like it are the only options for many low-income seniors.