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How do I choose a dental insurance plan?

How Do I Choose A Dental Insurance PlanThe first step in choosing the right dental insurance plan is to do research on the different types.

Many people do not take their dental insurance very seriously—at least compared to other types of insurance—simply because it is more difficult to go bankrupt due to dental costs than it is to go bankrupt due to medical costs, which can really climb up there.

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The truth is, however, that dental insurance helps people get the dental care they need without also having to face the high costs that can really come from that care.

What are the different dental insurance options?

The first thing to remember about dental insurance plans is there are several kinds; you are never limited to just one type of plan. Each plan comes with its own benefits as well as its particular disadvantages. The main types of dental insurance plans are DMHO and PPO.

Dental Health Maintenance Organization Plans

DHMO are dental HMO plans, and are very similar to the basic HMO plans. These types of plans have annual deductibles and fees or co-pays for basic services, and offer a network of doctors and dentists.

With DHMOs, you get good benefits for most procedures, especially for preventative care such as cleanings and regular X-rays. The premiums with these plans will be pretty affordable. Some of the downsides to DHMOs are their relatively small networks of providers, and the fact that you get no coverage when you go out of the network. You can see specialists only after being referred by your primary care dentists.

Dental Preferred Provider Plans

DPPO dental insurance plans also have annual deductibles and annual maximums. They will offer pay a specific percentage for the three levels of dental care:

  • Basic
  • Major
  • Preventative

This usually means they cover 100% of cleanings and up to 80% of fillings; the major benefits can vary. They will also offer a network of dentists you can pick and choose from; many will offer coverage for out-of-network dentists, though some will offer slightly less coverage percentages. Some of these, for extra, will offer orthodontics coverage, which will include braces and, more often than not, Invisalign.

With PPO plans, you get the benefits of higher discounts for using in-network doctors as well as coverage if you decide to go out of your network. These plans will usually cover more for preventative care than some other types of plans.

One of the major disadvantages of PPOs is having to meet the deductible before getting coverage. There may also be waiting period from anywhere to three to twelve months if you want to add major coverage for procedures such as oral surgery (pulling teeth, for example) or root canals.

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What questions should I ask when choosing a dental plan?

When you sit down to pick the kind of dental insurance plan you want, there are many things you will want to consider before beginning to invest your money. The plan you pick will be your plan for at least a year, so you will want to choose wisely.

For one, you will want to consider what you really plan on using the plan for. Some people look at dental insurance as a way to merely pay month by month to get their annual cleanings. They pay a bit each month toward their premium, then their insurance covers the full cost of cleanings and one set of X-rays. They end up paying around the same amount (or less) they would have if they had just paid for their preventative care on their own, but they do not have to pay it all at once.

If this sounds like you, you might want a very basic plan. Here are some questions to help you make the best choice:

  • Who all is going to be on the plan?
  • Is it for you, or your entire family?
  • Can you cover children who do not live at home with you?
  • If your child lives with another relative, or goes off to college, will he or she still be covered?
  • What condition are your teeth in now?
  • If you already have a dentist you use and like, will you be able to continue to see him or her on your new plan?
  • What is covered?
  • Will you or a child of yours need orthodontics in the near future?

The needs of a young single person with great teeth, an older person with poor teeth and a family with three children will be dramatically different. No single dental plan can meet the needs of everyone.

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