How to Choose a Good Dental Plan
Ask These Four Main Questions:
Networks: Do I want to keep going to my current dentist or am I willing to switch?
Not all dentists participate in all the dental networks. So, the biggest work-around in getting dental insurance is figuring out who participates in which dental network. Some plans allow out-of-network coverage but you will end up paying more for services. Discount programs have networks as well. Also look out for balance-billing (the difference between what the plan pays and what the dentist charges).
Dental Needs: What level of dental care do I need?
Are you just looking for a good preventative program for cleaning and exams? Do you need basic services such as fillings or nonsurgical extractions? Or do you need upcoming major services such as crowns or bridgework? Implants are becoming more common place, but not all dental plans will cover the cost. Nearly all plans offer these three levels of care, but the plan designs and price vary accordingly.
Dental Coverage: How is the dental plan structured?
When you do the math, don’t just look at the monthly premium. To get the most value, you will need to pay attention to the following details: Which dental plan doesn’t charge an initial enrollment fee? Which dental plan waives the annual deductible for preventative services? How high is that deductible? Which dental plan has the highest annual maximum? Which dental plan is discount-only for all or some levels of care? Which dental plan will include dental implants? Which dental plan has the shorter waiting period for basic and major services?
What are the waiting periods?
Since dental plans have no idea what shape your teeth are in, they protect themselves by establishing waiting periods before they will cover dental bills. For basic dental services you usually must be on the plan for 6 months before they will pay. And for major dental services you usually must be on the plan between 12 and 24 months. Many discount programs go to work immediately without a waiting period.