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Proposed House Bills to Add Dental, Vision and Hearing Coverage to Medicare

Three bills introduced to Congress are proposing Medicare coverage for dental, vision and hearing care, which are currently not covered by Original Medicare (Parts A and B). Many Medicare Advantage plans may already cover these benefits.

Published Feb. 5, 2020

Medicare beneficiaries who wish to have dental, vision or hearing care coverage must turn to Medicare Advantage plans (Medicare Part C) that offer these benefits, because Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) typically doesn’t cover these services.

But some recent bills introduced in Congress could change that. 

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Three bills, each proposing coverage for benefits not currently covered by Original Medicare, were introduced in October of 2019 and await a vote in the House. 

Original Medicare consists of Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B. These are the government-sponsored parts of Medicare and do not include coverage for dental, vision or hearing.

Medicare Advantage plans are sold by private insurance companies and include coverage for everything that Original Medicare covers, and many Medicare Advantage plans may include dental, vision and hearing benefits, as well as prescription drug coverage and other potential benefits not covered by Original Medicare.

House bills for Medicare hearing, dental and vision coverage

Each of the three bills introduced in October, 2019 included a proposal to add coverage of one of the aforementioned benefits to Original Medicare. 

  1. H.R. 4650 would add preventive and screening dental services to Original Medicare, including exams and cleanings. It would also cover tooth restorations, extractions, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants and dentures. 

  2. H.R. 4665 would add Medicare coverage of routine eye exams along with benefits for eye glasses and contact lenses.

  3. H.R. 4618 would add Medicare coverage for hearing exams and hearing aids.

According to the bills, all three types of benefits would be added to Medicare Part B, which is the part of Original Medicare that covers outpatient care.

A fourth bill, H.R. 3, would allow Medicare to negotiate with drug makers, cap out-of-pocket spending and expand the Medicare low-income subsidy program for prescription drug costs.

Potential effects on Medicare costs

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not released an estimate on how the proposed bills might impact the federal Medicare budget. 

Any coverage added to Original Medicare would likely affect Medicare premiums. Most enrollees do not pay a premium for Medicare Part A, as long as they have accumulated enough years of working and paying Medicare taxes.

Part B (which is optional) comes with a standard premium of $144.60 per month in 2020 (with some higher income-earners paying higher premiums). 

The average Medicare Advantage premium was around $29 per month in 2019.

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Christian

About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with MedicareAdvantage.com. He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for MedicareAvantage.com that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at Mike@tzhealthmedia.com.

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