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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Care for your teeth, eyes and hearing can be very expensive. Basic health insurance doesn't cover these costs. Neither does traditional Medicare. Even dental insurance or vision insurance might not cover all of your expenses.

Free or low cost dental care, hearing aids and eye care care/ eyeglasses is available. Veterans can get care through the Veterans Administration (VA). Each of these subjects are discussed in the other sections of this article:

To Learn More

Eye Exams And Eyeglasses

For help with eye exams, eye glass prescriptions and/or eyeglasses, check:

People age 65 and over:

  • If you have not seen an eye doctor in 3 years and do not belong to an HMO or have eye-care covearge through the Veterans Administration:  EyeCare America patients can receive an eye exam and up to one year of care at no out-of-pocket cost for any disease diganosed during the initial exam. For information, see: offsite link
  • If you have or are at risk for glaucoma or diabetes can get a free eye examination and an initial treatment for glaucoma through the EyeCare America Program. The program is for citizens and legal aliens See: offsite link or Tel.: 800.222.3937.

Clinics: Almost all optometry schools offer free or very discounted visual care by students whose work is closely supervised by professors. To locate an optometry school in your area, see the website of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry: offsite link.  Click on "About ASCO", then on "Member Schools and Colleges." . Before you go to a clinic, call to get details about available coverage and eligibility requirements.

People Who Receive Medicare: Traditional Medcare only covers eye care in certain nonroutine circumstances.However, there are Mediare Advantage plans that offer vision benefits. To check for a plan in your area, go to Medicare's website: offsite link

If the above don't work for you, keep in mind that stores such as CVS, Dollar Stores, Eckard's, Rite-Aid, Sears, Target, Wahlgreen's, and WalMart sell off-the-rack, ready-to-wear glasses in a wide variety of strengths, for reading and driving. Their prices are much cheaper ($10 to $20 a pair vs. $120 and up at optician stores). Some Dollar Stores even sell glasses for only $1. The American Academy of Ophthalmology finds that: "Ready-to-wear reading glasses are effective, safe and economical. Self-selection and over-the-counter purchase of these glasses appears to be medically acceptable, cost-effective and in the best overall interest of the public." Keep in mind that while these glasses work well for people with simple prescriptions -- or who only seek "spares" for contact lenses they usually wear -- they aren't adequate for people with astigmatism; people who need different strength prescriptions in each eye; or people whose eyes are very close together or far apart.

You can also search online for discounted eye glasses. (By law, your eye doctor must give you a copy of your prescriptions). While you cannot try on a pair of glasses purchased on line, there are some sites that will allow you to upload a photograph of your face to get an idea of how the glasses would look. To assure a proper fit of both the glasses and lenses, consider purchasing the frame on line and the lens from a brick and mortar retailer.


Lists of sources for free or discounted hearing exams and hearing aids can be found at:

Costco stores offer free hearing evaluations by audiologists or licensed hearing aid professionals and discounted prices to members.  To locate a CostCo near you, see offsite linkor call 800.774.2678.

The Starkey Hearing Foundation gives over 10,000 hearing aids a year to the needy.  See offsite link; Tel. 800.328.8602

Contact each source to learn their criteria for eligiblity.

Dental Care

When desiring or needing dental care, the first place to consider is an insurance program.

  • Private health insurance seldom covers dental work.
  • Medicaid.
    • Eligibility and program benefits vary by state.
    • In most states, Medicaid provides at least basic dental care 
  • Medicare: 

If insurance does not cover, there are a variety of ways to access free or low cost dental care. This article first lists several websites that help.  The second part of the article lists ways you can research on your own if you do not find what you are looking for from the websites.

WEBSITES (in alphabetical order)


  • Low income clinics which are federally-supported. See: offsite link.
  • Your local area Agency on Aging, City and county health departments will know of other local low income health clinics funded by other sources. Check the U.S. Administration on Aging's Eldercare Locator at offsite link or call 800.677.1116
  • Almost all dental schools offer free or very discounted dental care by student dentists whose work is closely supervised by dental professors. A list of all American dental schools is available through The American Dental Association ( offsite link; 312-440-2500) or the American Dental Education Association offsite link. Before you go to a dental clinic, call to get details about available dental coverage and eligibility requirements.
  • Many state and local dental associations have programs that provide services for free or reduced rates for people in financial need. You can locate such an association through the American Dental Association's web site: offsite link or call the ADA. Tel.: 312.440.2500 or the website of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at offsite link
  • Retail dental centers generally charge less than individual dentists.
  • Discount dental plans provide access to a network of dentists who agree to discount their regular prices. Locate a plan in your area by going to the website of the National Association of Dental Plans: www.   offsite link
  • Dental tourism (travel to another state or country). 
    • There are companies that will help arrange dental work abroad. Some companies even make travel arrangements as well. To locate such a company, type "Dental tourism" into your favorite search engine. 
    • Before committing, check the overall cost of a dental vacation against the cost of care in your area. Also check the operator before paying. For instance, check with the Better Business Bureau to see about complaints. ( offsite link
  • People Who Are Disabled: There are dentist volunteers who give free dental care to poor disabled people through the Association of Dentistry for the Handicapped ( offsite link Tel.: 303.573.0264).
  • Older Americans: For older Americans, the American Dental Association ( offsite link; Tel.: 312.440.2500) enlists dental volunteers to give free care to needy older people though the American Dental Association's Access To Oral Health Care For Older Americans Program.
  • Students: For students who can't afford to pay for care and can't receive it from Medicaid or CHIP because of income, coverage limits or alien status: A number of local public school systems fund or sponsor free or reduced-fee dental care, often using volunteer dentists, sometimes in school-provided clinics. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry ( offsite link ; 312-337-2169) has some information on such programs.
  • Needy Youngsters: Basketball star Eric Williams' Believe in Me Foundation ( offsite link ) promotes free and low-cost dental care. The Give Kids a Smile program of the American Dental Association ( offsite link; Tel.: 312.440.2500) enlists dentist volunteers to give free care.


The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) covers eye examinations and audiology tests and writes eyeglass and hearing aid prescriptions for all its eligible patients. In many cases the VA also covers eyeglasses and hearing aids---even for some non-service-connected Priority 5 and 7 patients (generally, veterans honorably, or generally, discharged after at least two years' service with incomes under about $35,000).

The little-known Veterans' Health Administration Directive 2002-039 of July 5, 2002 [paragraph 4.a.(1)] authorizes eyeglasses and hearing aids for:

  • People getting service-connected compensation for any reason or at any percentage.
  • Former prisoners of war.
  • People getting Housebound or Aid and Attendance increments to needs-based disability Pensions.
  • People needing eyeglasses or hearing aids due to any other (even non-service-connected) medical cause
  • People with any other functional or cognitive impairment as shown by Activities of Daily Living (ADL) functional deficiency(ies) who need eyeglasses or hearing aids to participate in their own care.

Replacements are allowed in cases of loss and breakage and for new or changed prescriptions.

Hearing aids, without a prescription change or loss, must last 4 years. Issuance of spares is determined by the VA audiiologist or eye care specialist.

The VA ordinarily offers comprehensive dental services only to 100% disabled, service-connected veterans and those held as prisoners of war over 90 days. Other, non-service-connected veterans may apply to the VA no later than 3 to 6 months after discharge to get dental treatment that wasn't completed while on active duty. For qualified cases, the VA may then pre-authorize some treatment with approved private dentists.

VA health centers are listed at offsite link.