There was once a time when choosing the right dental insurance meant pouring through leaflets filled with reams of information. Today, comparing different coverage providers is easier than ever, but it is equally important to select a provider that will meet the needs of you and your family.
Choosing the right dental coverage for you
Before you begin choosing care providers, you need to know which type of coverage will work well for you.
The most commonly used plan in the US is Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). With a PPO plan, you will obtain care through a selected network of providers, and will pay a certain percentage of your costs. It is still possible to step outside of your network’s providers and choose another dentist, but you will only be reimbursed for the average fees that your PPO network dentists would be expected to charge.
If you want to ensure that a wider range of dental procedures are covered, you may wish to choose full coverage dental insurance. These plans range from minor procedures to major. The financial costs you will have to cover yourself will depend on how much your chosen dentist charges, but you will have more flexibility with who you choose to provide your care.
Individual dental insurance plans will provide you with the ultimate in flexibility. With individual coverage, you can tailor your plan according to the needs of yourself and your family, and can choose from dentists outside of a set network.
If you already have a dentist you would like to remain with, but they do not participate in a PPO or full insurance network, you can also choose supplemental dental insurance. A supplemental plan will provide you with cash-back on procedures you have undergone, and is ideal if you do not want to switch from a dentist you are familiar with to somebody you do not know.
Knowing the difference between discount dental plans and insurance
Regardless of whether you choose a more ‘traditional’ dental insurance package or a dental plan, you will save money on your dentist bills. However, while the former acts as a form of ongoing coverage for your oral health, plans are similar to pre-arranging a negotiated reduced rate for the services you may need to use.
You can purchase insurance privately, or through your employer. It can be used for recommended routine procedures; such as cleaning and checks every six months. It can also be used for unanticipated situations, such as abscesses and root canals.
In contrast, a dental plan often involves being a member of a network which will provide reduced rate services to you. Plans usually mean that your treatments are not guaranteed, you can just access them for cheaper than if you did not have any coverage at all. They are a popular way of reducing the costs while being more affordable than traditional schemes.
Note that certain cosmetic and more advanced procedures (such as implants) are not covered by the majority of providers.
Specialist types of dental insurance and top providers
For some patients, particularly teenagers, it is necessary to look at options that cover a range of specialist services. The most common is orthodontic insurance. This covers services that deal with problems like overbites, underbites, crooked teeth, and anything else that may require re-aligning or straightening. Some orthodontic plans will cover the services that are typically included in standard dental plans, and in some cases it is possible to switch to orthodontic insurance and carry over the benefits from your previous provider.
In some cases, it is necessary to take on new insurance with no waiting period. Unexpected dental situations can arise that may warrant rapid treatment. While many companies require their clients to undergo a waiting period before they can make a claim, some do not pose those restrictions. But always read the smallprint!
Once you are aware of which plan or insurance scheme will work well for you, it is necessary to choose a provider that will meet your needs. One of the most popular plans among Americans is AARP, which is provided by Delta. AARP provides patients with the opportunity to choose between two different plans that offer a range of coverage. A range of benefits are available at moderate premiums, making AARP a comprehensive plan that is accessible nationwide. While Delta is the most popular provider in the US, Ameriplan is also popular.
Other examples of popular providers include:
- Aflac, for supplemental coverage
- Western dental, a DHMO
- United concordia
- United healthcare
Where to get quotes? Head directly using the links above, or use one of the many online comparison sites to compare what you might be getting.
Choosing a major dental insurance or plan provider that is registered with the ADA is the best way to ensure your coverage is as comprehensive and as flexible as possible.