Tips for Buying Dental Insurance

When purchasing dental insurance, price should not be the only consideration. You should approach shopping for dental plans just like you would any other product – evaluate the product and determine if it meets your needs and if it’s within your budget.

Here are five tips to help you shop for dental insurance:

1. Assess your dental needs

The first step in assessing your dental care needs is determining who needs coverage – just you? Or, will your spouse need dental insurance as well? Everyone needs preventive dental services, such as regular dental exams and cleanings. But age, dental hygiene/habits and oral health history may also help determine your dental care needs.

The point is to try and identify which dental services that you are most likely to need. For example, you are more likely to require complex dental services, such as dentures and bridges, as you approach your golden years. If you are a healthy twenty-something, you may be less likely to need complex dental services.

2. Determine the right plan design

Plans sort covered dental services into three or four categories or classifications. Every plan is different. Therefore, closely examine what the plan covers. The plan should show you the coverage level or percentage with a list of covered services per category. You will also need to look at the plan’s benefit maximum, required co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance. (See some common dental insurance terminology here.)

Match your anticipated dental needs with the appropriate plan design and coverage.

3. Consider the type of plan

There are several types of individual dental plans for consumers to purchase, such as PPO plans, indemnity plans and dental discount plans. Plan type can determine how claims are paid. Pay close attention to how the plan reimburses both in-network claims and out-of-network claims. (Learn about the different types of plans here.)

This is where network access can help you determine the type of plan that is best for you. Depending on the type of plan, seeing an in-network dentist can eliminate balance billing and significantly reduce your out-of-pocket cost.

4. Evaluate provider network access

PPO networks help reduce your out-of-pocket costs for dental care. Participating network providers charge you a discounted rate for covered services – one of the perks of dental insurance.

Find out if your preferred dentist participates in the plan’s dental network. Or look at the plan’s provider network directory in your area. Compare the provider directories from other plans and carriers to find the network access you desire.

5. Calculate the numbers

Now it’s time to compare plan pricing. Is the monthly premium within your budget? Is there a similar plan for a lower cost? Also, consider what out-of-pocket costs you will incur after insurance benefits are paid. These are all important aspects to analyze before making your final decision.

If you have any questions, you should call a carrier’s customer service department or licensed health insurance broker for answers. Or just ask us. Submit your dental insurance question here.

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