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Things to Know About Dental Insurance

Dental work can get really expensive, which is why there are insurance plans designed to help patients pay for necessary services without breaking the bank. While some people’s first instinct may be to avoid going to the dentist altogether to avoid these costs, most agree that having some sort of coverage is better than nothing – and it’s better for your health, too! Here are some of the main things you need to know about dental insurance. 

Most Plans Cover Preventative Care

Your average yearly or 6-month check-ups usually include a teeth-cleaning, dental inspection, and x-rays. This type of preventative care can cost upwards of $200, but the good news is that most (but not all) plans cover 100% of that cost. Make sure to read the fine print when choosing a plan to see whether or not preventative care is included in its coverage.

Dental Plans Have Waiting Periods

Most dental insurance plans have a term of 1 year, meaning that they have to remain in effect for that time. So it’s best not to get a plan to quickly cover the cost of an unexpected dental procedure. 

A lot of coverage plans kick in within 30 days of most preventative care visits, 3 months after basic restorative services, and 6 months after major restorative services. 

What’s a PPO?

A preferred provider organization (PPO) is one of the most common dental plans. 

Dentists join a PPO network and negotiate their fee structure with insurers. If you decide to go to a dentist that’s outside of your insurance network, you’ll likely end up paying more for your visit out of pocket.

What’s an HMO?

Those who choose a  health maintenance organization (HMO) option pay monthly or annual premiums, but are restricted to the network associated with the HMO. Usually that means you may have to live within the area the HMO is offered. 

So how should you go about choosing a dental insurance plan that’s right for you?

1. Look Into Group Coverage First

Most people have insurance benefits through their employer or other programs like AARP, Affordable Care Act marketplace health insurance policies, or public programs like Medicaid.

These are usually less expensive than individual insurance, but you should still look at the details of any plan so you can decide if the premiums are worth the money.

2. Research Individual Plan Options

Individual policies are more expensive than group policies, whether it’s a single policy or one for the whole family. These policies come with more limited benefits than Group Coverage plans, and you usually have to wait before major procedures are approved (see the waiting period we mentioned above).

3. Find Out Which Dentists Are In Your Network

If you have a dentist you like, ask which insurance plans they accept since PPO and HMO coverage can limit who’s in your network.

We recommend first asking your friends, family, and neighbors about local dentists that they trust before making a decision. Then check what insurance plans they accept.

4. Know Your Policy

Make sure that you’ve carefully reviewed your chosen policy before following through with it. One thing to take into account is budgeting for unexpected or emergency costs. 

Some plans also don’t cover certain services until the second year, so it’s important to know about what’s covered and when in case of an emergency.

It’s better to have some sort of dental coverage than none at all. Understand the difference between all of the options available to you, and make sure you’re comparing policies to make sure that you’re choosing coverage that best fits your needs. Educate yourself on out of pocket costs versus what’s covered, and once you’re ready, choose a plan that makes you feel secure in your dental healthcare.

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