Retirees, Create a Plan to Pay for Dental Care

Medicare doesn’t include dental coverage, and some retirees don’t realize the costs and complications of paying for oral care.

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When she needed dental work recently, Terry O’Brien, age 76, didn’t worry too much about the cost, at least initially. After all, she was paying $36 a month for an individual dental insurance plan, with up to $1,000 in coverage. But her problems far exceeded that cap. After forking over more than $2,000 out of pocket for a root canal and crown replacement, she decided to look for an alternative to her insurance.

“After the dentist x-rayed my teeth, he said I’d need another root canal and two more crowns,” says O’Brien, of Pelham, N.H. “I said, ‘Never mind. They’re not bothering me, and I don’t have the money.’ ”

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Mary Kane
Associate Editor, Kiplinger's Retirement Report
Mary Kane is a financial writer and editor who has specialized in covering fringe financial services, such as payday loans and prepaid debit cards. She has written or edited for Reuters, the Washington Post,, MSNBC, Scripps Media Center, and more. She also was an Alicia Patterson Fellow, focusing on consumer finance and financial literacy, and a national correspondent for Newhouse Newspapers in Washington, DC. She covered the subprime mortgage crisis for the pathbreaking online site The Washington Independent, and later served as its editor. She is a two-time winner of the Excellence in Financial Journalism Awards sponsored by the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, where she teaches a course on journalism and publishing in the digital age. She came to Kiplinger in March 2017.