Dental Insurance

Dental insurance plans are available in more forms and price points than most people realize.

Much like healthcare plans, dental insurance plans and dental savings plans can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in costs for preventative and necessary dental services. Individuals shopping for dental insurance can begin figuring out which plan might be best for them by familiarizing themselves with the different types of plans available in their area.

Which Dental Plan is Right for You?

In most cases, a variety of both dental insurance plans and dental savings plans will be available in your area including indemnity dental insurance plans and managed dental insurance plans.

Indemnity plans offer reimbursement programs for enrollees who pay fill upfront costs for covered dental services at any doctor of their choosing. Managed dental care programs include dental plan like preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs).

Many people choose to work with a dental savings program over a dental insurance program as well. Dental discount programs offer set discounts for specific services and do not pay any medical providers on your behalf, but generally have much lower monthly or annual premiums than full dental insurance.

Because dental insurance plans often require policyholders to face a significant waiting period before taking advantage of plan benefits and have low maximum coverage amounts, many people who need major dental work in the near future opt for a dental savings plan over an insurance plan.

Figuring out which dental healthcare plan is right for you depends on your available options and your specific health needs.

Keep reading for more important information about how dental insurance and discount plans work in addition to what you should keep in mind when choosing your next dental healthcare policy.

How Dental Insurance Works

Dental insurance policies work in much the same way as other health insurance policies, as different plans have different coverage levels and included benefits for different out-of-pocket costs. Also like other insurance policies, you can choose from standalone dental insurance policies, dental coverage riders to other medical insurance policies and dental discount programs.

All of these dental healthcare options are intended to significantly reduce the amount of out-of-pocket funds you must dedicate to your dental health.

Most dental insurance plans specifically include free or severely reduced price preventative care dental checkups, cleanings and X-rays for policyholders. There are several types of independent dental insurance plans, ranging from indemnity insurance plans that reimburse insurance policyholders after services have been rendered to managed care networks that take care of most costs behind the scenes so that you only have to worry about showing up to the dentist.

Most basic dental insurance policies do not usually cost a great deal, but they also do not offer more than a couple thousand dollars in coverage. Common dental insurance plans can have maximum coverage limits between about $1,000 and $2,000, meaning that the company will only pay for a certain amount of dental services per year.

Before reaching this coverage maximum, you will have paid your monthly or annual premium and a combination of deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. If in any given year that you have dental insurance coverage you do not use all of your available coverage limit, those funds can sometimes be passed onto the next coverage year so that your actual coverage limit temporarily expands. Insurance providers of dental coverage often categorize dental services into coverage categories that determine coverage levels.

If you are shopping for a new policy, make the plan covers any dental services you know you will need to the fullest extent policy.

Types of Dental Insurance Plans

Before you start looking at the details of different dental insurance policies, make sure you would most benefit from a dental insurance plan instead of a discount dental plan. Once you know you could benefit from a dental insurance plan, there are a few places you can start looking for available dental insurance programs in your area. You are most likely to come across a few common dental insurance plans from both indemnity insurance plans and managed healthcare insurance plans.

Dental indemnity insurance is the most traditional type of medical coverage that most people are familiar with. With these types of dental plans, policyholders can find and visit whatever dentist they choose and pay for the services upfront, later submitting a claim for reimbursement from their insurance provider.

While these plans provide policyholders with a great deal of freedom to choose medical providers, they usually cost more than other types of dental insurance policies and make it difficult to know exactly how much you will end up contributing to your overall dental costs.

Managed healthcare plans are the other common type of dental insurance policy found on the market today. Managed care plans provide policyholders with a set network of dentists who work with policyholders of the plan and who provide the fullest extent possible of the plan’s coverage.

Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMOs) are a popular choice, providing affordable dental insurance coverage to individuals through a network of dentists and one primary care dentist.

Dental Preferred Provider Organizations (DPPOs) usually provide plan enrollees with a more flexible network of dentists to choose from and the ability to see specialists without a referral from the primary care dentist.

Dental Exclusive Provider Organizations (DEPO) are a midway point in-between DHMOs and DPPOs, offering policyholders a closed network of dentists but less centered around seeing a single primary care dentist.

Dental Insurance and Dental Savings Plans

The most important different between dental savings plans and dental insurance policies is that savings plan administrators do not make any payments to dentists or dentist networks on the behalf of policyholders, a hallmark of what insurance providers do for policyholders. Instead, discount dental plan administrators negotiate a schedule or discounted rates for several categories of dental services with a specific pre-established network of dentists, who agree to accept these lower rates for their services.

When an enrollee opts in to a dental savings plan, he or she is gaining access to this network and discount dental service price list. With dental savings plan, you pay your monthly premium to the plan administrator and then pay all later out-of-pocket costs for services rendered directly to the dentists themselves. In essence, savings plan cut out the insurance provider as the intermediary between you and dentists.

Unlike most dental insurance policies, dental savings plans do not have maximum coverage limitations or caps on how much work can be done on a certain tooth or of a certain type. Even more, dental savings plans do not require program participants to wait any period of time before taking advantage of the benefits of the program, unlike the six to twelve months you have to wait with typical dental insurance plans.

Dental savings programs also very rarely reject any person’s application for coverage. Because of these unique characteristics, people without dental coverage who are shopping for a policy to take care of work that needs to be done imminently or that you know will cost more than $2,000 (a high coverage maximum for dental policies), a dental discount plan may be the only option you have to save money on the dental services you need.

Finding the Right Dental Insurance Plan

Once you are familiar with the various types of dental healthcare plans available to you and you have thought about what dental services you need, finding the right dental insurance policy for your needs should not be difficult. You can begin by choosing between a dental savings plan and a dental insurance plan.

A dental discount plan has no maximum coverage limit, no waiting period and no service caps, so is most likely the best choice for anyone who needs major dental work in the near future. If you do not expect to have serious dental work any time soon, at least one of the variety of dental insurance plans available today is sure to suit your needs.

To start thinking about what type of dental insurance plan would be best for you, keep in mind how important the freedom to choose your own dentist is and focus on plans that reflect that priority, either by not having a dentist network or by providing some coverage for out-of-network doctor visits.

Along the same lines, think about whether you want to be able to see an oral specialist directly or only with the referral of your primary care dentist. Make sure that the coverage maximum is high enough to cover dental services for normal wear and tear on your teeth and that you can afford any other out-of-pocket costs like deductibles, copayments and coinsurance. Many if not most dental insurance plans include free preventative dental care services, so aim for a policy with these benefits free of charge.

If you have any dependent family members on your medical insurance, you may want to add them to your dental policy as well so it is important to make sure any dental insurance policy you purchase allows additions.

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