Medicare covers the majority of older Americans’ health needs -- from hospital care to doctor visits to lab tests and prescription drugs. Here are some needs that aren't a part of the program — and how you might pay for them.
Opticians and eye exams
While Original Medicare does cover ophthalmological expenses such as cataract surgery, it doesn’t cover routine eye exams, glasses or contact lenses. Nor do any Medigap plans, the supplemental insurance that is available from private insurers to augment Medicare coverage. Some Medicare Advantage plans cover routine vision care and glasses.
Solution: For some people, it makes sense to buy a vision insurance policy for a few hundred dollars a year to defray the costs of glasses or contact lenses.
Medicare covers ear-related medical conditions, but Original Medicare and Medigap plans don’t pay for routine hearing tests or aids.
Solution: If you are in a Medicare Advantage plan, check your policy to see if it covers hearing-related needs. If it doesn’t, or if you have Original Medicare, consider buying insurance or a membership in a discount plan that helps cover the cost of such devices. Also, some programs help people with lower incomes get needed hearing support. Or you can pay as you go. Congress has passed legislation allowing some hearing aids to be sold without a prescription. The devices could be available in a few years.
Dental workOriginal Medicare and Medigap policies do not cover dental care such as routine checkups or big-ticket items, including dentures and root canals.
Solution: Some Medicare Advantage plans offer dental coverage. If yours does not, or if you opt for Original Medicare, consider buying an individual dental insurance plan or a dental discount plan.
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