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A Beginner's Guide to Dental Insurance

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When it comes to dental insurance, it is important to "put your money where your mouth is." The more comprehensive your dental insurance plan, the less likely the health of your teeth will be a problem over the long term. As dental disease is so common and gum disease can affect other organs such as the heart, stomach and intestines, it is a wise idea to invest in dental insurance as an essential safeguard for you and your family.

Even the most inexpensive and rudimentary of dental insurance plans covers preventative care such as check ups and cleanings. Regular cleaning of the teeth is one of the keys to maintaining oral health and can keep future dental costs down. This can also help reduce your medical costs and medical insurance premiums in the future.

Dental insurance works differently than medical insurance. Most dental coverage is designed to ensure that the patient receives regular preventive care. High quality dental care rarely requires the complex, multiple resources often required by medical care. A thorough examination by the dentist and a set of x-rays are all it usually takes to diagnose a problem. As most dental disease is preventable, dental benefits plans are structured to encourage patients to get the regular, routine care so vital to preventing and diagnosing the onset of serious disease.

If your options include a plan funded by your employer, you may have an administrator responsible for processing and payment of claims. The primary responsibility of the third party is to provide the financial foundation for your dental benefits plan. There are three types of third parties.

Dental Service Corporations are not-for-profit organizations that negotiate and administer contracts for dental care to individuals or specific groups of patients. This is the type of dental insurance that is received by most employees.

Insurance Carriers are for-profit companies who underwrite the financial risk and process payment claims for dental services. These dental insurance companies make contracts with individuals or patient groups to offer a variety of dental benefits packages. Some providers are also able to offer international dental plans which cover you whilst you are on holiday, or abroad on business. But this may not be standard, so you need to check with them before travelling.

Self-Funded Insurers are companies who use their own funds to underwrite the expense of providing dental care to their employees. The company pays for the dental costs of its employees, usually with limitations on services and fixed-dollar allocations.

When purchasing an individual plan, you are usually offered two choices. The open panel plan allows covered patients to receive care from any dentist. Closed panel plans, which are also sometimes called Freedom of Choice plans only allows you to receive insurable treatment from a dentist the company chooses.

Most dental insurance plans provide coverage for selected diagnostic services, preventive care and emergency treatment that are basic for maintaining good oral health. However the extent or frequency of the services covered by some plans may be limited. Depending upon your individual oral health needs, you may be required to pay the dentist directly for a portion of this basic care.

Before purchasing a dental plan, find out how much treatment is allowed in any given year without cost to you, and how much you will have to pay for yourself. This is crucial as every dental care plan is different.



 

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