It’s kind of a given that dental insurance will cost you less over time in premiums than health insurance, but like everything else, there’s always a catch. You’ll find that most health insurance plans will cover a nice chunk of your expenses once the deductible has been paid off, but dental insurance policies work a little bit differently. With dental, there’s an annual limit to how much you’ll see in coverage a year and it’s usually between $1,000 or $1,500 with a $50 to $100 deductible. Sure, your plan might cover 80% or more on your cleanings, exams or x-rays but when it comes to crowns, extractions or heavy-duty treatments, you might only be assisted with 50% of the cost when you use an in-network dentist. Other dental procedures like cosmetic work or orthodontic visits are not covered at all.
With most people struggling to make ends meet outside of the realm of personal health, it makes sense that even those with dental insurance will try to put off important procedures because they simply don’t have the money to shell out for them. Whether your insurance doesn’t cover a dental procedure you need done or you’ve used up your maximum coverage for the year, it can be a headache trying to figure out what to do next. If you want to sidestep more of those unforeseen charges, follow these steps when you’re trying to make sure you’re choosing dental insurance that best suits your lifestyle.
Is Group Coverage an Option?
Depending on where you work, your employer might provide you dental insurance through your employer. Choosing dental insurance through a group coverage program could save you big money. You’ll find that these kinds of plans are less expensive and they generally provide better benefits than individual insurance plans. Before you commit to choosing dental insurance provided by your employer, you want to be sure that you’ve thoroughly looked through all the details of costs and premiums you are to incur. You only want to go with this option if it’s better than other options you’ve seen.
Check Out Some Individual Policies
Individual dental policies tend to be more expensive and less beneficial than a group policy plan and there are often times waiting periods before you can have a major procedure done. You can be sure that signing up in the knick of time because you need something done will most likely result in a waiting period of up to a year. When choosing dental insurance, you want to make sure that you weigh all of your options before deciding on one type over another.
Get Familiar with the Dentists in Your Network
If you have an indemnity dental plan, you’ll be able to use whichever dentist you wish. PPO and HMO plans are more common though, and these plans limit you to dentists within their networks. If there’s a particular dentist you really like, speak with them directly to find out which insurance they accept. If it’s fine by you to find another dentist, choosing dental insurance in the PPO or HMO bracket might work best for you. If you do go with a new dentist, you should be on high alert if they try to tell you that you need a lot of unexpected work done. There are some in-network dentists that might try and recommend unnecessary procedures to you to make up for losses they incur on preventative services; they’re reimbursed by dental insurers at low rates for these services. Ask friends or colleagues if they know of any good local dentists and then cross-reference your findings with what the insurance plans and providers accept.
Find out What’s Covered Up Front
If you want to be able to budget well for the dental expenses that will without a doubt come into play, you want to know your policy coverage limits forwards and backwards before scheduling an appointment. If you went with the AARP Delta plan for example, you would be able to get cleanings, oral surgery, restorations, denture repair and root canals as soon as your insurance began. You wouldn’t be able to get gum disease treatments, dentures, dental implants or crown or cast restoration until your second year of coverage began. And still at that, your benefit is only 50% of the costs. This means that if you or another family member needs some serious work done, you’ll probably be looking at paying a good amount of that out of your own pocket. There are upsides and downsides to both group and individual plans and no matter which one you go with, you’ll be expected to pay something on your own for those major procedures.
Choosing dental insurance will be about doing the research to make sure you’ve decided on the best option for you. Make sure you know all of the key points when choosing dental insurance!