For many folks, autumn is their favorite time of year. The changing weather is a wonderful reason to bundle up with your loved ones, carve some pumpkins, and make good use of the fireplace.
But while autumn may make you smile, it’s also party-time for cavities! Halloween is coming, which means little ones will be excitedly trick-or-treating in the neighborhood and eating loads of candy.
Maybe it’s time for a dental insurance refresher.
Here’s what you should know about dental insurance
Below are some information to help you understand dental insurance:
- While medical insurance has no coverage limits and provides coverage for a broad range of services, dental insurance is only intended to provide a set amount of coverage for a specific set of services.
- These services tend to include biannual checkups, cleanings, cavity fillings, X-rays, crowns, root canals, and other necessary repair work.
- Stand-alone dental insurance policies come in all shapes and sizes. Some plans cover everything from braces to cleanings, while others cover a more limited set of benefits. Skipping the plans that offer dental benefits you don’t need could save you money. Most of the time, dental insurance plans do not cover cosmetic services such as teeth whitening or dental implants.
How much does dental insurance cost?
- Monthly premiums vary widely from one dental insurance plan and one area to another. It’s all about how much coverage you want.
- Typical premiums may range from $20 – $60 per month.
- Many dental insurance plans come with an annual deductible which you may need to fulfill before your coverage kicks in.
- Coverage is often expressed as a percentage of the total cost – so your dental insurance plan may (for example) pay 80% after your deductible, leaving you with 20% of the cost.
- Teeth cleanings are sometimes covered twice per year at no out-of-pocket cost, or sometimes after a deductible or with a % contribution from the member.
- Compare costs and shop around when it comes to getting dental care, especially for more expensive procedures. Make sure that you stay in-network to get the best coverage.
What are the types of dental coverage?
- Employer-based dental coverage. Many employers offer dental insurance as part of their benefits package. This is how most people get their coverage.
- Self-purchased stand-alone dental coverage. Dental coverage isn’t only available through employers. You can buy your own. Work with a licensed agent online or in your area to learn more.
- Dental or vision riders. Some health insurance companies who sell direct to consumers also offer dental coverage as a “rider” attached to the policyholder’s medical insurance plan.
A few tips when shopping for new dental insurance:
Be sure your favorite dentist takes your plan – If you have a preferred dentist, find out what plans they accept before you enroll in a plan. Websites like eHealth, and the licensed agents in their call center, can help you search for plans with your doctor in them. Stand-alone dental insurance policies are typically going to give you a far better price for services performed by dentists in their network. Almost all policies use a tiered cost-sharing system, and you pay the least out of pocket for services when you use a dentist from the plan’s network.
Read the fine print – Most stand-alone dental insurance plans have cost-sharing requirements (co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance) so you should be sure you know how much you’ll spend for regular checkups or emergency dental work. Expensive procedures like crowns and root canals may be subject to higher deductibles and co-payment than routine cleanings or fillings, depending on the plan you have.
Don’t wait for problems to arise – If you want to buy dental insurance on Monday and have major dental surgery on Tuesday, you may be disappointed. Most dental insurance plans have waiting periods for any major dental work, so don’t procrastinate.
In closing – eHealth.com helps you find and compare dental plans in your area from trusted insurers. Halloween is a great reminder for parents to teach their little ones about the importance of dental hygiene. If cavities or other unforeseen issues do occur, it is important to be prepared and have a dental plan already in place.