Medicare Open Enrollment Ends Soon — What Expenses Are Not Covered?

Senior adult, male patient receives vaccine or medicine from his African descent, home healthcare nurse in nursing home or home setting.
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Now is the time to choose your Medicare plan for the new year if you haven’t done so already. Open enrollment for Medicare ends on Wednesday.

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While navigating open enrollment, keep in mind the various healthcare-related expenses that Medicare does not cover so that you may budget accordingly should the need arise.

Routine Physical Exams

Every doctor recommends them, yet Medicare doesn’t cover routine physical exams, which cost $50 to $200 out of pocket, according to House of Debt. What Medicare will cover, however, are annual wellness exams — which generally do not include blood and urine samples —  if you have had Medicare Part B for longer than 12 months.

Most Dental Care

Just like traditional health insurance, Medicare doesn’t prioritize oral health. Dental exams should be had every year at least. They average between $60 and $120 with no insurance, according to 1Dental. Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) will only pay for certain dental services provided while you’re in the hospital.

Dentures

Nope, Medicare won’t pay for dentures or other dental devices. Without insurance, traditional dentures average $1,800 without insurance according to GoodRx.

Eye Exams For Rx Glasses, Contact Lenses

Again, just like with traditional health insurance, Medicare does not cover eye exams or costs associated with glasses and contact lenses. According to Warby Parker, the average cost of an eye exam without insurance is around $100.

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Hearing Aids and Exams for Fitting Them

Medicare does not cover the costs of hearing aids or the exams necessary for fitting them. As GOBankingRates previously reported, a new partnership between UnitedHealthcare and AARP brings AARP members in need of the treatment some relief through Hearing Solutions, a program that makes prescription and over-the-counter hearing aids more affordable. AARP members can buy custom-programmed prescription hearing aids starting at $699 per hearing aid — substantially less than the typical retail cost, which runs between $1,000 and $4,000.

Cosmetic Surgery

Unsurprisingly, Medicare does not cover cosmetic surgery costs.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can be hugely beneficial for people living with chronic pain and other ailments, but Medicare doesn’t cover it. According to Thumbtack, the national average cost of a massage is $100 per session.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is not covered by Medicare. The average cost of a visit to a chiropractor is $65, according to Meridian Healthcare.

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Podiatry

Foot exams are not covered by Medicare, nor is callous removal and other routine medical care for feet that seniors often need. The cost of a podiatrist visit varies by state, but you can expect to pay at least $72 and up to $138 per visit, according to Sidecar Health.

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Long-Term Care (Nursing Homes/Assisted Living)

​Medicare will cover limited stays in rehab facilities — the keyword being limited. If you become sickly enough or disabled to the point where you need the 24/7 care that can be found in an assisted living facility or nursing home, Medicare will not cover the costs. These facilities are infamously expensive. According to a 2021 Cost of Care Survey by Genworth, the median cost for a private room in a nursing home is $297 per day, which totals $9,034 per month. In rare cases, if residents’ care is not covered by Medicare and the resident is unable to pay, these institutions can and will go after family members to collect.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.
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