Dental Insurance: The Haves and Have-Nots


The newly released :DentalPlans SmileIndex™, an annual survey on oral care access and affordability,  confirms a big gap in peoples’ ability to obtain dental insurance.

Unsurprisingly, cost was the biggest reason cited by respondents for not having dental coverage.

:DentalPlans SmileIndex shows that 62 percent of the nationwide respondents were found to have have dental insurance. Respondents with dental insurance tend to be younger, married with children, have a Bachelor’s degree, and make $50,000+ (75 percent of respondents with dental insurance make between $50,000 -$99,000 and 85 percent of those with incomes greater than $100,000).

But only 39 percent of those making less than $25,000 have dental insurance.

Of the respondents without dental insurance 58 percent stated it was not affordable, while 21 percent said it was not offered through their employer, and 15 percent said it was not necessary.

The survey was conducted on behalf of :DentalPlans by an independent research agency, Infosurv Research.

Only 23 percent of respondents would seek out other low or no cost alternatives to dental insurance, indicating that people are either comfortable with paying out of pocket or are putting off necessary care because they believe there is no way to afford it. The latter is sadly more likely, as dental care is the healthcare service most likely to be put off due to cost issues, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The minimum average spent in the U.S. on dental care annually (in 2012, the most recent available MEPs info) was $666 and the maximum average is $2,100, According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPs). A higher percentage of dental expenditures was paid out of pocket (47.5 percent for dental versus 14.2 percent overall) and a lower percentage was paid by Medicaid (5.8 percent versus 10.4 percent). Dental and overall expenditures were similar in the percentage paid by private insurance (43.1 percent versus 40.1 percent).

Compared to the U.S. as a whole, the percentage with a dental expense was lower in California (35.5 percent) and Texas (29.1 percent), and it was higher in Illinois (47.3 percent) and Michigan (45.9 percent).

“If you are not receiving dental insurance as part of your employer’s benefits package, it is very likely you don’t have coverage,” says Bill Chase, vice-president of marketing for :DentalPlans.

“The survey also revealed to us that only about 50 percent of respondents are somewhat or very familiar with dental savings plans. It also concerns us that 15 percent of the respondents did not feel dental insurance was worth it. For us, that means we need to do a better job of educating people about the importance of oral care to your overall health and the affordability and ease of access dental savings plans offer,” Chase added.

Dental savings plans are affordable, easy, and offer quality access to dental services. Savings range from 10%-60% of what you might pay out-of-pocket without a plan.

Using the Aetna Vital Savings plan, which costs a low annual fee of $179.95, a family of four could save $864 on their annual ADA recommended treatments alone. That’s $684.05 in savings, when including the cost of the plan. And the savings can really add up when additional dental care is factored in, like sealants for children’s teeth, crowns, braces, and other procedures.

Dental savings plans are not dental insurance. Participating dentists have agreed to accept a reduced fee from dental savings plan members as payment in-full for dental services performed. Dental savings plans are available to individuals and families, as well as businesses. Call us at 1-800-238-5163 to find out about how dental savings plans can help make quality dental care affordable.


Join. Save. Smile.