A Few Words About Dental Insurance

The cost of health care continues to spiral upward yearly. And just as every other segment of health care, the fees for dental services have skyrocketed as well. A good dental plan is not only important to your physical well-being, but it can also help to keep your financial condition healthy and strong.

Before buying any dental coverage, it’s essential that you do your homework. Study the plans of a number of coverage providers to see what’s available. Find out what’s covered in terms of diagnostic, preventive and emergency treatment, and in what amounts. If you already have a dentist, find out what insurance or discount programs, if any, that he or she is a member of. Determine what payment options your provider will accept. It’s not unusual to find that you may have to pay for the services out of your own pocket, complete and submit a claim form, and then wait for a reimbursement.

There are several different types of dental health plans that are available. Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMOs) are one form of coverage. These function in the same way that healthcare HMOs operate. The member pays a small monthly fee for coverage. The dental provider receives a monthly fee for each patient assigned to his or her office, regardless of what procedure is performed. The insured must select a dentist from the approved list of network providers. Some plans may have a yearly limit on the dollar amount of work that can be received.

Dental Preferred Provider Organizations also operate in the same manner as their regular healthcare PPO namesakes. The insured is not limited to the providers of the PPO network. He or she will, however, pay a larger out-of-pocket portion if service is acquired from a non-network provider.

Supplemental dental insurance is just as its name implies: it is not meant to be your primary dental insurance. Rather, it's meant to help cover the costs associated with your dental needs which may not be covered by your primary health or dental coverage. Many employers only offer basic dental insurance. And since the average primary dental program usually only covers up to 50% of the costs of major procedures, supplemental insurance can help to relieve the potential financial burdens of these occurrences.

Dental discount plans are designed to lower dental costs by negotiating discounts for their large membership bases. Discount plans are not actually insurance; they do, however, lower costs by passing the lower negotiated service rates on to their plan members. Members simply present their dental discount plan ID card, and are billed at the discounted price. Discount plans can be very cost-effective; with some charging as little as $5 per month per person covered.

As with any other type of financial decision, the key is to shop and compare. Differences in plan coverage and cost can be quite significant. Take your time to find out what’s offered, gather sound information, and then you’ll be in a position to choose the coverage that best fits your needs and budget.

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