Choosing a Dental Plan

By Nathan Victor

There are many dental plans obtainable, and whichever one suits you best is something that only you can decide. Carefully consider what's available in each plan and ultimately come to a decision as to whether you are looking for routine coverage or perhaps other dental treatments.

There are no plans available that cover all the costs of dental care. Therefore, you should compare each plan to see what it covers, compared to what you need. Compared to your medical coverage, you will find that dental plans by and large offer fewer benefits.

The typical dental treatments that the majority of Americans use cost about $300 per year for typical dental hygiene visits. Restorative dental procedures, more commonly known as cosmetic dentistry, may cost $25,000 or more!

Dental insurance plans will have set limitations on the quantity of dental visits you'll be allowed to have, and different reasons for X-rays that are covered, but other services may be excluded. Read your plans carefully to see if you will only be reimbursed if you choose lower cost treatment alternatives. As in many medical plans, they also may not include treatments for various pre-existing conditions.

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Some people are very surprised to hear that they have a flexible spending account dental option that is available through their employer for various dental or even medical needs. Ask, if you have that option available.

As mentioned above, there are many categories of dental insurance plans for you to choose from:

First there are indemnity plans. These will permit you to select the dentist of your choice. They are called "fee for service" because they have different limitations and possibly different co-payment options. Thus, you will pay a flat fee for that particular dental visit; however there will be an annual limit for your coverage with regard to dental spending. You may also find that they have precisely detailed coverage limits that could apply for individual dental procedures that you may have;

Self-insurance plans only differ from indemnity plans by the fact that you won't be able to choose your own dentist;

Closed panel plans have specific limitations on the groups of dentists available for your choice;

A capitation plan involves receipt of a list of dentists you may go to for specified intervals. If no treatment was required, they are still paid;

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) are a group of select dentists which you may go to for reduced costs;

You may also choose to get a direct reimbursement plan wherein an employer can directly reimburse you for dental treatments you received;

Finally you may choose to avail yourself of a dental care service plan, which is formed by a group of dentists using a non-profit vehicle in order to provide their dental services through set fees;

No matter which kind of dental plan seems to fit your family and your needs best, be sure and get acquainted with what is covered as well as what is not. This will enable you to make wise choices when presented with options if you are in a type of plan that only covers certain fillings for example. Or you may have to make choices about whether or not you'll elect to have certain procedures that your type of insurance deems not necessary and calls cosmetic dentistry.