Most types of insurance such as medical, worker compensation, life and auto insurance are a no-brainer. The issue of dental insurance is however a complex one. Most people wonder whether dental insurance is even worth it in the first place. There are no easy answers to this question and it largely depends on your specific situation.
How Dental Insurance Works
Dental insurance is unlike medical insurance in that the former has a limit after which you are responsible for paying out of pocket. Most Americans pay anywhere from $15-$50 for dental insurance a month. Maximum coverage limits vary in the $1000-$2000 range.
Less than 4-percent of Americans actually exhaust their dental insurance limit every year which makes the issue of whether dental insurance is worth it even more complicated.
What Dental Insurance Covers
The typical dental insurance plan is what is known as a 100/80/50 coverage and works like this;
100-percent coverage: for preventive care such as X-rays, cleaning, exams and checkups
70 to 80-percent coverage: for basic procedures such as periodontal work, extractions and fillings
50-percent coverage (or less): for major procedures such as dentures, root canals, crowns, implants and bridges
This is just a general overview of how dental insurance plans work as they may vary from one plan to another. For example, one plan may consider a root canal as a major procedure while another may term it as a basic procedure.
Most plans don’t cover orthodontic care but allow you to purchase a separate coverage. Very few cover cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening. Note that dental insurance mostly covers preventive care.
Types of Dental Insurance Plans
There are three major categories for dental plans;
Free-for-service or Indemnity Plan
Here you are at liberty to choose a dentist. The plan pays for a pre-determined percentage of your dentist's fees. You can choose form a wide range of dentists and may have a higher annual maximum coverage than most plans. This is a good choice if you prefer a certain dentist or anticipate major dental work in the future.
Preferred Provider Organization or PPO Plan
This type of plan has certain preferred dentists or in-network for you to choose from. You may choose a dentist who is not in the network but you would have to pay more in out-of-pocket expenses. These plans typically pay more than other types of plans. This is a good choice if you want coverage in case of an emergency or don’t want to pay high premiums.
Health Maintenance Organization or HMO Plans
You can only choose from dentists within the insurance network. These plans typically pay for 100-percent of your preventive care and may have attractive co-pay for basic procedures. This is a good choice if you want to pay low premiums and have no preference for dental providers and don’t anticipate any major dental work.
It is important that you understand exactly what the insurance covers and doesn’t cover and the implications before you sign up to a plan.
Whether or not dental insurance is worth it is a personal choice. If you are living paycheck to paycheck and wouldn’t be able to cover a dental emergency, dental insurance is absolutely recommended. At the very least, dental insurance is a good way to guarantee that you go to the dentist for your bi-annual checkups otherwise its money down the drain. Preventive dental care can save you plenty of painful and expensive procedures in the long-term.