Enrolling yourself and your family in a dental insurance plan is an important investment in everyone’s health and wellbeing. However, with so many options, choosing the right policy can often be confusing and overwhelming.
We break down what factors to consider when browsing dental insurance plans.
Understanding dental insurance
Dental insurance is a separate policy from your general health insurance that helps cover, either partially or in full, dental care and procedures from routine cleanings and exams to fillings, dental crowns and more.
An individual may enroll in a dental insurance plan offered by their employer, as a dependent on a spouse’s plan, or on their own.
What to consider when comparing dental plans
As you begin evaluating different plans, it’s important to:
- Understand the types of dental insurance available
- Consider your oral health needs
- Determine your dental insurance budget
- Decide what dentist you want to see
- Assess coverage offered by different plans
Understand the different types of dental insurance
Before evaluating and comparing plans, it’s important to understand how different types of dental plans work:
Dental PPOs have a large network of dentists, and also generally allow you to see someone out of network. But it comes at a cost; PPOs tend to have a higher out-of-pocket cost, require you to meet a deductible and limit how much they’re willing to cover.
Dental HMOs require you to see in-network dentists, and typically have limited networks. However, most DHMOs have a lower premium and no deductible — and usually, no annual maximum.
Finally, discount plans offer memberships for an annual fee (rather than a monthly premium). Members have a dental discount card which is presented at each dental visit to get lower prices on care and treatments. Out-of-pocket costs are paid directly to the dentist.
Consider your dental care needs
Most dental insurance policies cover routine cleanings and exams, but offer different levels of coverage for more extensive procedures and treatments. If historically, you’ve required little more than cleanings and x-rays, it may make sense to opt for a more basic plan. However, if you need more extensive dental work like a root canal, a full coverage plan will likely save you money on care over time.
If you are married and/or have children, take into account the needs of the other members of your family. Young children may need braces or aligners at some point, or require fillings from poor brushing. As a result, opting for a policy with more coverage might be wise.
Determine a budget
Take a look at your finances and determine how much you’re able to spend for dental coverage over the course of a year. Remember that in addition to the monthly premium, there will be a copay and deductibles to meet that should be factored in. Review dental costs you’ve paid over recent years to set a realistic budget for your needs.
Decide if you want to keep your current dentist
Love your dentist and don’t want to make the switch to a new one? Some plans charge more for out-of-network dentists, so check plan details and talk with your dental office to ensure you’ll be covered (either partially or in full) for any procedures performed there.
Assess the coverage offered by the plans you’re considering
Finally, look at coverage specifics, including what treatments are covered and how much insurance will pay versus how much you’ll pay for various procedures. Also important to consider:
- Waiting period: Some plans require members to wait six or 12 months before undergoing major dental procedures.
- Annual maximum: The total amount a plan will pay toward dental care over a 12-month period.
These details should be clearly explained on the carrier’s website. Don’t enroll in a plan until you’re confident about about the coverage. If you have questions, look for a support phone number or even the chance to chat online with a representative. If you have questions while shopping with Direct Benefits, our Direct +Connect team is standing by!
Compare dental insurance plans from Direct Benefits
The simplest way to compare dental insurance plans in your area? Direct Benefits takes your information to display the policies that will help keep you and your family healthy while keeping costs down.
Explore our marketplace to find the best plan for you.