If your employer sponsored health plan does not combine dental and health insurance coverage, it is possible to purchase your own plan through a company that offers dental health insurance coverage. But experts warn consumers to be careful about these plans and what they offer. It’s not uncommon to purchase a dedicated dental plan only to find out that coverage limits are unrealistic.
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According to statistics from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, 73% of Americans under the age of 65 with employer sponsored health insurance also have some sort of dental health plan. Among individuals who purchase their own health insurance, only about 30% also have a dental plan along with it. There were some 45 million people across the country without some sort of dental insurance in 2008.
How does dental insurance work?
Most dental plans work in a way that’s fairly similar to standard health insurance. Customers pay their annual premiums in exchange for typical preventative care being covered in full. When major dental work becomes necessary, the typical plan only covers up to a certain dollar amount. After that the patient is responsible for paying the remainder of the bill.
The trick to buying good dental insurance is to know exactly what a given policy’s limitations are. You’ll find most standard dental plans are fairly inexpensive. It’s not unusual to pay less than $1,000 annually for an average plan, but consumers must weigh the cost of the premiums with the amount of the deductible and coverage limits. If your coverage limits are too low, you’ll end up paying the majority of the bill.
A routine examination and cleaning can be upwards of $100 these days. For a family of four, that equates to $400 spent every six months; $800 over the course of a full year. If the total cost of your premium is $1,000 annually, your routine care is pretty close to what you pay in for the plan.
If one of your family members requires a few fillings, braces, a root canal, or even a crown, hopefully your dental insurance plan will pay for those expenses. Choose your dental health insurance plan wisely!
How do I know how much coverage I need?
Determining the amount of coverage you need requires that you assess your own situation. Take into account your spouse, your children, and the dental histories of both sides of your family. If you’re older and have a history of cavities, you have a higher risk of needing major procedures in future years.
Also consider whether or not your children may someday need braces. In other words, you need to realistically assess the possibility of needing major dental work done in your family and then purchase a plan accordingly. A plan with higher limits will obviously cost you more money in annual premiums. You can lower health insurance premiums by choosing a plan with higher deductibles.
Know how your health insurance deductible is calculated. For example, you may purchase a plan with an annual combined limit of $10,000 and a $1,000 deductible. With the lower rate such a policy affords, paying that $1,000 deductible for a root canal and crown might still be cheaper than having a lower deductible and lower coverage limits.
What if I can’t afford dental insurance?
If you’re among the millions of Americans who don’t have dental insurance, there is some good news to be had. First of all, most Americans don’t spend as much on dental procedures annually as they do other medical procedures. That’s one of the reasons why the cost of dental insurance is significantly less.
So even if you have to pay for your dental care out of pocket, you can probably get by when it comes to standard, routine care. For major procedures many dentists offer financing plans to their patients. Fortunately, dentists understand the lack of dental insurance among so many individuals.
Another option, as recommended by The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), is to check with local dental schools and community colleges with dental programs. Often times these institutions will offer low cost dental care as a means of providing hands on experience for their students. All of the work done in one of these facilities will be supervised by an experienced and licensed dentist.
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