Shopping for the best dental insurance plans on the market? Be honest, would you even know which plan is best for you at a glance? If you think you know your way around just because you’ve shopped for health insurance, think again. Dental insurance can operate in a number of different ways, many of which can be shocking to those only familiar with the health insurance labyrinth of options.
Limits and caps
For instance, while many healthcare plans have virtually no limit (or limits in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars), you’d be very hard-pressed to find dental insurance plans with a cap higher than $1000 or $1500 a year. It makes sense, though – dental insurance is typically a lot less expensive than health insurance, so your insurance provider needs to define how much of it you can use per year in order to actually make a profit.
That said, many of the best dental insurance plans will only count procedures like root canals, extractions and crowns towards your yearly cap, charging you nothing (or a small copay) for routine cleanings, check-ups and dental x-rays. Do your research when considering a plan, and ponder whether their cap and limits work for you and your oral health.
Keep in mind that most plans do not cover procedures considered aesthetic or orthodontic.
Understanding premiums and deductibles
Then there’s the matter of deductibles. Just in case you don’t know – deductibles are the amount of money you need to pay out of your own pocket before the insurance kicks in. They vary wildly between plans and providers, though, and are one of the criteria that will ultimately determine if a plan is right for you. Deductibles tend to go hand in hand with premiums – high deductible plans typically have low monthly premiums, and vice versa.
It’s another way in which picking the best dental insurance is very different to picking health insurance. Deductibles of several thousand dollars are common for healthcare, but they would make no sense for dental insurance. A typical cleaning session, out of pocket, can cost anything between $200 to $250, while a year of dental insurance is typically around $350. Paying thousands out of pocket before your insurance even kicks in would make no sense – most people don’t need more than a couple of cleanings a year.
Most deductibles are between $50 and $200, with some plans featuring no deductible (but higher premiums). Shop around, compare, and think about what’s right for your usage estimate – how much dental work do you really expect to get in a year? Is it just you, or do you have a partner and/or children to consider? You’ll need to answer all these questions to find the best dental insurance for you.
It’s all about the network
The single, most crucial element that makes a plan truly the best dental insurance option for you is their network of professionals. A good relationship with a dentist you feel at ease with is incredibly helpful when you want to stay on top of your oral health – and nothing makes that easier than a generously ample list of available dentists, the “network” covered by your plan and provider.
While comparing plans, don’t think just about their deductibles, premiums, caps and limits – think about their dentist networks. How big is the list, and how diverse is it? Are the best dentists in your area on the list? What are customers online saying about the listed dentists? Do your due diligence on this matter and you’ll save yourself endless headaches (and toothaches!).