Cheap Dental Insurance
This page on Be-Health-Smart.com is about finding Cheap Dental Insurance. It covers tips and suggestions of how to get you and your family on cheap dental insurance. With the high cost of medical care and dental care, it is vital that a family have dental insurance. This also covers using dental floss and other dental hygine topics.
Types of Individual or Family Dental Insurance
There are a variety of individual or family dental insurance products, and not all insurance companies sell the same type of product. Please remember the vast majority of dental insurance benefits offered in America are derived from employer benefit plans. The insurance companies are hired contractors that provide different types of plans. Their primary focus is making a profit.
Currently more and more employers are favoring a health insurance plan known as a Preferred Provider Organization (P.P.O.). P.P.O.s are the invention of insurance companies. A provider dentist in a P.P.O. plan agrees to offer his or her services at a discount and have signed a contract with the insurance company to abide by its' rules.
Perhaps your dental coverage has been switched to a new dental plan and you do not see your current dentist on the panel listing.
Tip - Even if you do not see your dentist's name on the list, he/she may actually be part of your new insurance plan. Because dentists join and leave dental plans at any time of the year, the insurance lists of participating dentists are not always updated at the time you may be reviewing them.
Check with your dentist to make sure - they may be on the list.
What if you find that your dentist is not on the list? Do you have to change?
Tip - Often by reviewing the benefits and available coverage, you may find that staying with your current dentist may be an affordable option. The key is talking with your dentist and your company's benefits administrator.
The following is a brief description of other dental insurance offerings:
This is the only true open market dental insurance plan. You, the consumer, can seek treatment from any dentist of your choice. The only limitation is the amount of the annual benefit you are entitled to. The employer will "cut" a check upon receiving the receipt of service or they can hire a Third Party Administrator (T.P.A.) and they will issue a check for the services performed.
Traditional Indemnity Insurance
These programs usually allow patients to go to the dentist of their choice. They pay either a set percentage of the dentist's fee or the insurance company's determined fee limit (or the "usual, customary and reasonable" fee/UCR), whichever is less; or they pay a set dollar amount for covered services off a table or schedule of allowances. UCR rates can vary widely from insurance company to insurance company and even within the same company's policies. UCR is not a universal fee charged by all or even most dentists. With an indemnity insurance plan, the patient is required to pay the difference between the insurance company's reimbursement and the dentist's fee.
Dental HMOs or Capitation Plans
These programs require the consumer to see one of a limited number of dentists in order to receive coverage. The patient is required to pay a monthly fee to the plan and a set co-payment fee to the dentist for certain covered services. The plan pays the contracted dentist a fixed amount per enrolled individual or family. If the patient goes to a dentist who does not participate in the plan, then the patient receives no reimbursement and has to pay the treating dentist's entire fee.
Discount or Referral Plans or Buyers' Clubs
These programs require the consumer to pay a monthly fee. In return, the plan provides the patient access to a limited list of dentists who have agreed to discount their fees. The plan does not make reimbursement to patient or the dentist. The patient is required to pay the dentist the entire discounted fee. Simply put, these plans provide a list of discount dentists. The patient assumes the risk, at a discount.
Evaluating Individual or Family Dental Insurance Policies
Keep in mind the principle of risk assumption as you shop for individual or family dental insurance. The insurance company wants to make a profit, and in order to do so, the company must find ways to legitimately limit its risk. The consumer must carefully evaluate the dental policy to ensure that the insurance company's concern of risk does not override the value of coverage. Ask yourself, does this policy cover expected and specific dental treatments in an acceptable manner, and does the plan include choice of dentist?
The checklist of questions will help you evaluate individual or family dental insurance policies:
- What does your dentist think about the plan you are considering?
- If the plan uses UCR to determine your reimbursement, what is the UCR level? How frequently does the insurance company update it? What percentage of dentists actually charge the insurance company's determined UCR? UCR can be set at a percentile of the actual fees charged anywhere between 0 and 100.
- If the plan requires that you see a participating dentist to receive benefits, do you know the names and locations of the dentists on the list who are accepting new plan patients? Are the choices of dentists acceptable to you? Are their locations convenient?
- If the plan requires that you see a participating dentist to receive benefits, what is the dentist/patient ratio for the program? What criteria does that plan use to select dentists to participate in the program? What is the geographic distribution of patients to dentists?
- Does the plan cover all of the dental treatments that you need or want covered? Are there coverage limitations or exclusions?
- Does the plan cover diagnostic, preventive and emergency services? Will it cover preventive services such as sealants and fluoride treatments? Will it provide for full-mouth X-rays?
- What type of routine dental care is covered? Does the plan cover crowns and bridges, braces, root canals, oral surgery and treatment of periodontal (gum) diseases?
- What major dental care is covered? Does the plan cover dentures, implants or treatment for temporomandibular (TMJ) disorders? Covered benefits among various plans can range from almost nothing to everything.
- Are pre-existing conditions, such as missing teeth, covered?
- Are there waiting periods before you can start using the insurance? Are there waiting periods before you can receive certain treatments?
- What are the monthly premiums? How much are they, and are they fixed at that amount for a certain period of time? How do the premiums compare to your normal or expected expenses?
- Are there any co-pay or deductible amounts that you have to pay? How much are they, and are they fixed at that amount for a certain period of time?
- What is the plan's annual maximum dental benefit?
- Does the Ohio Department of Insurance regulate the plan for financial solvency?
- If you have dental benefits from another source, will the plan you are considering coordinate its benefits with the other plans to maximize your total benefit?
- Is dental treatment pre-approved by the insurance company and under what parameters? What happens if you do not receive this pre-approval?
- Does the plan pay for the least expensive way to treat a dental need, or will it pay for the treatment you and your dentist decide is the most appropriate?
- If the plan requires that you see a participating dentist to receive benefits, how does it provide for emergency treatment? What provisions does it make for emergency care if you are away from home?
- Does the plan provide you access to specialists? Is access limited or open to any specialist you or your dentist chooses?
- Is the least or most expensive plan the best plan for you and your family? Does it provide coverage for basic or comprehensive dental care?
- What are your anticipated dental needs? Does the plan meet those needs at a price you are comfortable with?
- Have you conducted a cost/benefit analysis of the plan that you are considering? How much did you spend on dentistry last year and the year before? How much do you anticipate spending on dentistry this year and next? How do the plan's premiums compare to your past and expected dental expenditures?