Why Dental Insurance is a Must-Have in Today's World
What is Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance is designed to help cover the costs of qualified dental procedures. Just like other types of insurance, the specifics of what is covered will depend on your policy, but, in general, policies will provide at least some coverage for:
- Preventative care, such as cleanings, annual exams, and Xrays
- Basic procedures, such as fillings, extractions, and root canals
- Major procedures, such as implants, crowns, or surgery
It’s important to note, however, that there are usually different levels of coverage for these different categories. While your insurance will usually cover 100% of the cost of an annual exam, it might only pay for 70% of a filling and an even smaller percentage of a major procedure like an implant. Additionally, dental insurance almost never covers cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening.
How Does Dental Insurance Work?
You can purchase dental insurance as part of your medical insurance policy or as a stand-alone policy from popular providers such as Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare, and Cigna. When comparing policies, be sure to consider:
- The annual cost of the policy. Policies that are bundled with your medical insurance are usually a bit less expensive than standalone policies, but not always. Also, just because a policy costs more doesn’t mean it offers better coverage. Always compare the cost to what you are getting for your money!
- The specifics of what’s covered. Look carefully at both what procedures are covered as well as at what percent. It’s a common misconception that one’s dental insurance will completely pay for all procedures, but that is almost never true. Most often, you will still get a bill after your insurance is applied, making this type of insurance more of a discount program than true insurance.
- The deductible. This is the amount of money you would have to spend out-of-pocket before the insurance policy covers anything.
- The yearly maximum. Many policies have a cap on the total amount of money they will pay out in a year.
- Waiting periods. Many policies include an amount of time that must pass before they will begin to provide coverage.
- The covered dentists in your area. Most policies will also differentiate their coverage between dentists considered “in-network” (specific dentists the insurance company collaborates with) and those “out-of-network” (everyone else). The cost difference is usually very significant, so make sure you have good in-network options available to you.
Do I Need Dental Insurance?
Whether you need dental insurance really depends on your individual situation. Think about the amount of dental work you usually have done within a year. If you generally only visit for an annual checkup or routine cleanings and don’t have a history of dental problems, the annual premiums, which are often around $500, might not make sense for you. Even if you have one or two emergencies in your lifetime, they usually won’t add up to the cost of years of policy premiums. However, if you do have a history of needing dental work, are getting older, or would rather pay smaller premium amounts over time to avoid the occasional big dental bill, you should consider buying coverage.