Are you considering enrolling in a new dental insurance plan through your employer or an online marketplace? It’s worth your while to compare the coverage against a dental discount plan. Depending on your dental history, future needs, and your budget, you may find that one offers you bigger benefits than the other.
Dental Insurance – Positives & Negatives
Whether or not you “love” your dental insurance will likely depend on who your favorite dentist is, and the type of policy that you carry. Generally speaking, most people have an HMO, PPO, or Indemnity Plan. The first two reimburse the provider based on whether your dentist is in network, while the later reimburses you directly after you pay for your treatment at the time of service.
The cost for your plan is usually deducted from your paycheck each month (if your plan is available through your employer.) Or if you’re paying out of pocket, it averages around $30/month.
Downsides to having dental insurance are that you have to see someone in your network to maximize your benefits, otherwise you’re left paying more in the long run. While the plans are great for people who have very healthy teeth, when it comes time to needing dental work like fillings or crowns, the insurance plan will only cover a set percentage of the procedure.
Plus, there are even waiting periods that you have to wait out before you can schedule certain types of treatment. By the time those appointments roll around, you’re usually in worse pain or need more complex treatments that you still can’t afford. Although it’s not meant to be a bad thing, these plans are designed around a preventive care model that hopes you’ll be flossing every day and seeing your hygienist routinely (so as to not need a lot of dental work.)
Dental Discount Plans
If you anticipate needing a bit of dental work in addition to your routine checkups and cleanings, a dental discount plan can give you more bang for your buck. Typically everything is covered — even if you’re splurging on a smile makeover with veneers or teeth whitening. There aren’t any restrictions, because it’s your own money. In most cases, your preventive cleanings and exams are fully covered, just like with conventional insurance.
Another advantage to a dental discount plan is that you can save money for treatment and schedule the appointments as soon as they’re necessary. No six month waiting periods, here! If you have “bad teeth” or didn’t get a lot of routine dental care when you were growing up, a dental discount plan may be the better option for you.
How much do they cost? As low as $79/year, in some cases. Plus, if you need extra work, you can change your dental savings plan at any time to adjust your coverage. Try doing that with an insurance carrier!
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Discounts
Most dentists love when patients are paying cash or using a dental savings plan, because it means they don’t have to fight tooth and nail for reimbursement of services a month after they’re performed.
You might even find that your dentistoffers a discount when treatments are paid in full at their time of service; all you have to do is ask! Depending on the office, you can typically get another 3-5% taken off your total treatment plan cost. Because most people are relying on 3rd party insurance benefits, they don’t usually ask about or know this discount even exists (nor does the office generally advertise it.)
When push comes to shove, you need to ask yourself how often you need to (or should be) visiting the dentist in the next year, and what your vision for your smile is. Whether it’s getting your oral health back, finally tackling that dental crown, or putting a kid in braces, the choice between an insurance policy or a dental discount plan could save you hundreds of dollars. If you ever get confused by all the options, always remember – we’re here to help, give us a call!