Dental Plans vs. Dental Insurance
Let me make this clear. A dental discount plan is not the same thing as a dental insurance plan. In fact, a dental discount plan is more like belonging to just the network of providers that you would get from a dental PPO or dental HMO. You visit the dental providers in the network, and you receive services at contracted discount rates. Large insurance companies negotiate rates with their contracted dental or medical service providers, and basically that’s what you would get – the contracted discounts. Some people have compared dental discount plans to buying clubs.
Even if you belong to a dental discount plans, you will be expected to pay your portion of the bill up front. However, in my own experience, if you have to plan for expensive dental procedures, you can find a dentist who will be able to work out payments for you. If your credit is decent, you may also be able to find a low interest loan for the amount. The thing is, even with insurance, you will be subject to co payments, yearly insurance maximums and deductibles. And even with insurance, you are likely to incur out of pocket costs. In addition, dental insurance is much more expensive than dental discount plans. With the discount plan, or buyers club, you only pay for services that you actually use. Dental insurance premiums are calculated to cover the cost of services you “might” use.
Furthermore, dental insurance plans may not cover additional items like braces, cosmetic work, or dentures. Expensive dental work that is covered, like crowns or bridges, will still probably require coinsurance and may be over the cost of the yearly maximum on your dental insurance.
Group Dental Insurance
If you have a group dental insurance plan at work, especially if your employer contributes or it gets you some tax advantages, I would encourage you to participate! However, some dental insurance plans do not use a network to contain costs, and you may still want to consider a dental discount plan!
However, if you are one of the millions of American who are not offered a dental insurance plan at work, you may find the search for an affordable and comprehensive dental insurance plan much more frustrating! Senior citizens and families with children may have a particularly tough time. And studies show that a majority of people would actually visit the dentist more often if the bills were lower.
An Ounce of Prevention
As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! This is particularly important when caring for your teeth. Those regular visits for teeth cleaning and checkups can prevent very serious problems in the future. Plus you will find a regular dentist can give you a lot of security if you do need emergency treatment! Dental plans will have a list of dentists who participate in their program, and you can do a fast on line search to find one in your area. Many plans offer free, or greatly reduced, routine checkups and x-rays. So if you’ve been putting of that teeth cleaning, because you don’t think you can afford it, a dental discount plan may be a great way to get the dental visit scheduled!