Dental Plans Buying Guide

By Frank Topol

Most consumers believe that dental plans are simply not designed to fit within their budget, but coverage can truly be within reach of virtually everyone. Few individuals realize how many programs are truly available, but it is important to understand what many of the options are and what many of them aren't. For example, many dental plans are actually not a type of insurance and as a result some consumers simply mistakenly avoid them. Many of the avoided plans actually have better coverage, so it is necessary to learn about all of the different programs available.

Dental indemnity insurance is typically characterized by high deductibles, probationary periods, and annual limits. Dental insurance programs are very similar to health insurance in that they have private fee for service, PPO, and HMO options. Many of the programs have fairly substantial monthly premiums and offer coverage for routine care, but will only cover major procedures after the deductible has been met. Very few dental insurance carriers cover orthodontics (braces) or elective procedures such as teeth whitening. The vast limitations associated with dental insurance have actually resulted in more people seeking other options, such as dental discount plans.

Dental plans can be most accurately described as access to a coupon book that will provide significant savings on virtually any type of care necessary. Although dental plans can only be used at certain providers, most of the programs have very extensive networks that include a number of dentists in each area. The monthly fee associated with a dental plan is often a fraction of what it would be if it were actually insurance, so the cost savings is high. In addition, practically any procedure is included in such a dental discount plan and orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry is not excluded. There are no maximum limits and no deductibles. There are no reimbursement forms to fill out and the member simply has to pay their discounted rate at time of service. Most families and individuals find that dental plans offer a much better value.

There are not as many ways to save on dental plans as there are on some types of insurance, but savings are not impossible either. There are often discounts available for certain groups and membership in some organizations, such as AARP or AAA. Perhaps the best way to obtain the best possible program is to shop around and compare multiple quotes online. With all of the options available to consumers, there really is no reason that everyone can't be covered by dental plans.