Some expenses can be anticipated; others take us by surprise. For the latter, people often turn to an insurance policy to help offset at least part of the financial burden—whether it’s from a fire, auto accident or unanticipated illness. Unfortunately, dental insurance is not always as helpful in dealing with unanticipated expenses as we’d like it to be. So it’s important to know the limits of dental insurance and to explore alternatives, such as dental savings plans.
The basic problem with dental insurance is that, unlike most other kinds of insurance, it’s not designed to pool risk or to protect against unforeseen expenses. Instead, it tends to pay a large share of preventive services (where the costs are known ahead of time) and very little for unanticipated problems or big-ticket items.
For example, a typical dental insurance plan may offer what is known as”100-80-50″ coverage. This means the plan will pay 100% of the cost of routine preventive services – normally, two annual visits to the dental office for an exam and professional teeth cleaning. It will also pay 80% of the cost of basic restorative services such as fillings, and 50% of the cost of more complex procedures such as crowns and bridges. There is usually no coverage at all for dental implants, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry—areas in which some of the most exciting dental innovations have taken place in recent years. Yet these may be exactly the services that would have the greatest impact on your quality of life. So if you are in need of those services, you may want to consider enrolling in a dental savings plan.
A dental savings plan is designed to cover exactly what you want it to. In fact, you decide which procedures you want covered—not an insurance company or even your employer. Instead of paying a monthly premium, you pay an annual membership fee. This membership fee entitles you to discounted dental services from a nationwide network of providers. The dentist you currently see, or want to go to, may be one of them. What are the fees? It depends on exactly which plan you join, but you can view the fee schedule for each plan before you sign up.
Another important feature of dental savings plans is that it’s impossible to “max out” your benefits, the way you can—rather quickly—with traditional dental insurance coverage. You can use the plan as many times as you want within the same calendar year. It’s a system that’s also free of claims and other types of paperwork. There are no deductibles and no waiting periods.
It’s important to plan for how your family will cope with dental coverage, expenses – but the best way to do that is not always with traditional dental insurance. A dental savings plan offers an alternative that works well in many situations. And unlike traditional insurance – where you enroll beforehand, and hope you never need to use it – you can purchase a dental savings plan after you know it’s needed… and all the savings belong to you. That might be a good reason for you to investigate the advantages of Dental Savings plans.