Choosing the best and most affordable dental plan can be a challenge.
The good news is that dental insurance is generally affordable, and you have many options. You can shop for a dental insurance plan on the ACA marketplace (healthcare.gov) or the private insurance market via a website like dentalplans.com, or an independent broker or agent.
But there is no one low-cost dental insurance plan that provides the perfect combination of cost and coverage for everyone. Don’t pick a plan solely according to price. The best insurance plan is the one that meets your dental care needs, budget and your preferences.
Understanding how dental insurance works, and what you should be looking for when you review plan details, will help ensure you find the right plan at the right price.
Here are some tips that will help you find your best low cost dental insurance plan.
Low Cost Dental Insurance Basics
Most dental insurance policies are “100/80/50” plans. That means the plan covers 100% of the cost preventative care such as cleanings, checkups and x-rays, 80% of basic treatments such as fillings, and 50% of more complex procedures such as root canals and crowns.
The typical cost of an individual dental insurance policy is around $350 a year. For a family, the cost is around $550, annually. The price you pay for your dental insurance is called the “premium.” The term “premium,” in the insurance world, comes instead from the Latin words prae ‘before’ and emere ‘buy, take.’ This refers to the practice of paying for insurance now to potentially gain a reward in the future.
If you pay out of pocket for two checkups and cleanings and a set of X-rays, your cost, on average, will be around $375-$400, according to the American Dental Association. So, with a dental insurance policy, you’re basically pre-paying for your essential preventive care, with a little assurance built in that if you need a couple of fillings, or chip a tooth, you’re also covered.
Affordable Dental Insurance: Check The Deductibles and Maximums
Before you buy dental insurance, check the amount of the plan’s deductible. The deducible is an amount that you will have to pay out of pocket for dental services before your insurance will begin to cover their portion of the costs. The typical deductible is $50 for an individual annually, and $150 for a family. Some plans exclude preventive care from the deductible, which means these procedures are covered even if you haven’t met your deductible.
You should also check the annual maximum coverage provided by your plan, also known as the “annual cap.” Dental insurance policies generally limit coverage to $1000 -$1,500 a year. When your dental costs for most procedures go over that limit, you then have to pay for your own dental care for the rest of the year.
Given that the average cost for a crown is $750-1200, and the cost of a single implant starts at $1500, you can exhaust your annual dental allowance fairly quickly. If you know you’ll need major work at some point in the future, you may want to look for a policy with a high cap. You’ll pay higher premiums, but you probably won’t max out your coverage in one visit.
Additionally, check to see whether a maximum amount is an annual maximum or a lifetime maximum. You’ll likely see lifetime maximums only for lengthy services such as orthodontia (braces) or long-term issues such as dentures (which typically need to be adjusted, repaired or replaced over time).
Low cost Dental insurance alternatives
Dental savings plans, are an affordable alternative to traditional insurance, offering members discounts of 10%-60% on their dental care.
Why would you choose a dental savings plan instead of dental insurance? Dental savings plans activate quickly – usually within 72 hours of purchase – have no annual caps, no waiting period is applied for accessing care, and no restrictions on obtaining care for preexisting conditions. You simply use your plan to save whenever you go to the dentist.
Carefully consider your options – dental insurance, a dental savings plan or consider self-insurance (banking the amount you’d pay for insurance into your own health savings account). With a little research, you’ll be able to choose the best dental plan for you.
To learn more about dental plans, call one of our :DP AtYourService Customer Care Representatives at 1-800-238-5163.