The Dental Services California Guide to Dental Insurance in California
Dental insurance is an important way to keep from being surprised
by big dental bills. People with insurance are more likely to see
the dentist for preventative check ups, meaning that they're also
less likely to wind up with big problems down the road. Whether
you prefer an HMO, PPO, or traditional plan, there's a dental plan
that's right for you. Direct reimbursement is also available. All
of these kinds of dental plans have their benefits and problems.
The important thing is weighing the factors in your life and deciding
which kind of dental plan is best for you.
HMOs are the cheapest option for dental insurance in California.
These organizations require you to visit a dentist within their
network in order for your dental work to be covered. California
HMO rates were once lower than the national average, but have recently
risen to about the same as the national average. With a dental
HMO, you should expect to pay about $10-$15 a month. A PPO will
cost about twice that, and allows you to visit dentists outside
the network. However, any trips made to practitioners outside the
PPO network must be paid for out of pocket until you can be reimbursed,
and the portion of the visit cost that is reimbursed will be smaller.
Traditional dental insurance used to be more popular, but it's
now falling out of favor. This is because of the cost. Traditional
dental coverage runs an average of $40 to $50 a month. However,
it will also give you the most freedom in what dentist you see.
To some people, this is worth the extra cost. Especially if you
live in an area without many dentists in your network, a traditional
plan could be useful.
Direct reimbursement dental plans are a relatively new offering
on the field of dental insurance in California. These are actually
an innovative approach to self-funding dental benefits. The California
Dental Association is very approving of this particular approach
because it gives people the freedom to choose their dentist. Direct
reimbursement plans are usually created by employers for employees.
The patient simply selects and dentist they want, receives treatment,
and submits a receipt to their claims administrator. This system
reimburses the employee within a week or so.
In addition to the above types of plan, there are two publicly
funded dental programs in California. The state Medicaid program,
Medi-Cal, provides a comprehensive package of dental benefits,
including preventative services and oral surgery. Only some people
will qualify, and benefits are limited to $1800 per calendar year.
The Healthy Families Program is a state and federally funded program
that covers children whose families have incomes too high for Medi-Cal
and below 250% of the federal income guidelines. There is some
hope that the parents of children covered by this program will
soon be eligible for coverage under Healthy Families as well. However,
the large price tag on that change means the program has yet to