Choosing a Dental Plan these days can be just like pulling teeth. Pardon the humor, but for anyone who has tried to figure out the difference between dental plans, dental insurance, dental discount plans, dental health plans, ect., it can be an extremely frustrating and confusing experience.
First off, there are only two different things that we need to look at. Those are dental insurance and dental plans. Somehow there’s become a lot of different terminology for these two, but they’re the only ones that you need to worry about.
When most people think of dental care they think of insurance, which, twenty years ago was pretty much the only thing available to consumers. Many people could get coverage through their work either automatically, as an employee group benefit, or for a small fee. Things have changed a lot in the past two decades. Recent studies show that seven out of ten people in the United States have no type of dental coverage at all.
Dental insurance, unless provided by your employer, isn’t as “cost effective” these days. Some of the drawbacks are annual deductibles, annual spending limits, non-coverage for pre-existing conditions or a very long (usually 6-12 month) waiting period, and limitations and exclusions on certain types of care. You must also pay a monthly or annual premium which can be in the $25-$50.00 per month range for an individual person and even as much as $100.00 monthly for entire family coverage. At these rates it’s no wonder that there are such a high number of people who aren’t covered. They simply cannot afford it.
Dental discount plans were introduced several years ago as an insurance “alternative”.
Let’s define a discount plan – it’s really very simple. A dental discount plan allows you to visit a dentist at a reduced rate. You join the plan, which is usually very inexpensive and you may then visit any dentist in that plans “network”. This network is a group of dentist’s that have agreed to accept a reduced payment for services performed. They do this under the condition that the work be paid for at the time of the visit.
You see, it costs dentist’s money and time to fill out forms for insurance payments or to finance someone’s dental work. Besides the paperwork, it usually takes anywhere from 45-90 days for them to be paid by the insurance company after they’ve completed the work. In some cases, claims can even be rejected after they’ve already performed the work. The insurance company can claim that the person treated was no longer covered for whatever reason or that the procedure performed was excluded from being covered, in which case, the dentist is left “holding the bag”.
With dental discount plans you’ll pay a discounted fee for services rendered at the time of your visit. For example, let’s say that you need your teeth cleaned. The normal price for this may be $80.00, but you’ll get a discount card stating that you get a 50% (example) discount, so, in this case, you’d only pay $40.00.
Let’s do another example – let’s say that you need a root canal done and the price for a root canal is $800.00. Well, you’ve got a discount card that saves you 50% so you you’d only have to pay $400.00 out of pocket at the time of your visit to the dentist. Are you beginning to understand how this works?
This can be very cost effective for a family.
Is this beginning to make sense now? It’s really very simple isn’t it?
The 50% savings used was only an example. Many plans offer even higher discounts on certain procedures. Some even include discounts on procedures such as cosmetic dentistry, professional teeth whitening, orthodontics and more.
Also, pre-existing conditions are covered, there are no exclusions, no deductibles and no waiting periods to be treated. You can also see any dentist in the network. If for some reason you’re not happy with the first dentist that you see, you can simply start seeing a different one.
That pretty much sums it up. I hope that this was helpful so that you may make an informed decision when you decide to buy dental coverage.