Dental insurance is a type of insurance that covers the cost of dental care. It is designed to help individuals and families pay for preventive, routine, and necessary dental services. While dental insurance is not required by law, many people choose to purchase it to protect themselves from the high cost of dental care.
In this guide, we will discuss the different types of dental insurance, how it works, and how to choose the right dental insurance plan for you.
Types of Dental Insurance
There are two main types of dental insurance: group dental insurance and individual dental insurance.
Group dental insurance is offered through an employer or other organization, such as a union or professional association. It is typically part of an employee benefits package. Group dental insurance is generally less expensive than individual dental insurance because the cost is shared among a larger group of people.
Individual dental insurance is purchased directly by an individual or family. It is available to those who are self-employed or not covered by a group dental insurance plan. Individual dental insurance is generally more expensive than group dental insurance because the cost is not shared among a group.
Dental insurance plans can also be classified as either fee-for-service (FFS) or managed care.
Fee-for-service dental insurance plans allow you to see any dental provider you choose. You pay a portion of the cost of dental care, and the insurance company pays the rest. FFS plans may have higher premiums, but they often offer more flexibility and a larger network of providers.
Managed care dental insurance plans require you to choose a primary dental care provider from a list of approved providers. These plans may have lower premiums, but you may have limited choices for dental care providers and procedures. There are three main types of managed care dental insurance plans:
- Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMOs): DHMOs require you to choose a primary dental care provider from a list of approved providers. You pay a copay for most services and may be required to pay an annual deductible.
- Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs): PPOs allow you to see any dental provider, but you may pay less if you see a provider in the plan’s network. You may be required to pay an annual deductible and copays for certain services.
- Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs): EPOs require you to see only dental providers within the plan’s network. You may be required to pay an annual deductible and copays for certain services.
How Dental Insurance Works
Dental insurance works by covering a portion of the cost of dental care. The amount of coverage varies depending on the type of dental insurance plan you have. Most dental insurance plans have a yearly maximum benefit, which is the maximum amount the plan will pay for dental care in a year.
Dental insurance plans also have a deductible, which is the amount you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company begins to pay for dental care. For example, if your deductible is $50, you must pay the first $50 of dental care costs before the insurance company will pay anything.
Dental insurance plans also have copays, which are a fixed amount you pay for a specific dental service. For example, you may have a $20 copay for a routine dental cleaning.
Dental insurance plans may also have exclusions, which are services that are not covered by the plan. Common exclusions include cosmetic dentistry, such as teeth whitening, and elective procedures.