Tips for Choosing a Dental Plan
Make sure you understand the costs and benefits of your dental insurance plan.
Are you wondering whether or not you should sign up for dental insurance this year? The following tips for choosing a dental plan should help you decide.
Understand Your Coverage
First and foremost, you need to understand what will be covered under the plan. Many plans will cover your preventative care like dental exams, cleanings, and x-rays at 100 percent. A percentage of restorative services will be covered, and cosmetic services are typically not covered at all. Many dental plans seem to offer excellent coverage, but remember that there is typically a limit of anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 on the amount of benefits the plan will pay out in a given year. Some plans have a lifetime limit on orthodontic coverage.
Calculate Plan Costs
You should also add up all the costs you’ll have to pay out of pocket and make sure these make sense with your monthly and annual budget. Start with the monthly premium and be sure to factor in deductibles and co-pays.
Make Sure You’ll Save Money
Now, you’ll need to compare the cost of the plan with the amount of benefits you expect to get out of it. In most cases, you will save money by having dental insurance if you simply use it to cover your annual dental cleaning and exam. For example, your dental coverage might cost $8 per month with a $50 deductible. That’s $146. The cost of a dental exam and cleaning ranges from $120 to $300. Throw in some dental x-rays and you will use up all the money you’ve paid into the plan even on the low end of the scale. Plus, you’ll get the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re covered in case you need a filling or other restoration.
Check for Special Terms & Restrictions
Before you get too excited about your dental plan, make sure you understand any special terms or restrictions. For example, some plans have waiting periods for individuals who enroll with a pre-existing need for major dental work. Others have clauses that allow the insurance company to only cover the “least expensive alternative treatment.” This might mean you have to get silver amalgam fillings rather than more costly white composite ones.
Ask Your Dentist if They Accept the Insurance Plan
If you really love your current dentist, you should definitely check whether or not they will accept the dental insurance plan you are considering. Ideally you want to choose a plan that your favorite dentist participates in as a preferred in-network provider, as you will get the best prices and coverage. If you don’t have a good dentist yet, you can find a list of dentists who accept insurance on the dental plan’s website.
Consider Other Options
Dental insurance may not be the right solution for you. If it doesn’t look like you’re going to be happy with your coverage, consider other options for paying for necessary dental care, such as health care credit cards, dental financing, and tax-advantaged Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts.