6 Tips When Looking For Individual Dental Insurance Plans
Dental insurance is a vital component when it comes to maintaining good oral health. Even though you brush and floss your teeth on a daily basis, you will still need procedures such as regular cleanings, check-ups, and fillings not to mention root canal, dentures, crowns and more at some point. Dental insurance ideally makes trips to the dentist more affordable and helps to offset any unexpected costs.
Presently, dental treatments cost more than ever. You can easily find yourself paying hundreds of dollars on the routine dental visits and the cost can skyrocket to thousands for major procedures.
Since finding affordable low-cost dental care has become difficult, many people are spending years without seeing a dentist. However, this can lead to various unpleasant and sometimes dangerous health consequences. Oral health issues such as cavities and gum disease can lead to more serious health issues such as diabetes, respiratory problems, heart disease and more.
For individuals looking to purchase dental insurance, the process can be daunting. It’s a bit confusing deciding which plan and coverage option can meet your personal needs best. Here are some essential tips to help you find the right individual dental insurance plan:
1. Shop Around
Individual dental insurance is quite popular. As such, there are many different insurance companies that offer different plans to choose from. Take advantage of this prevalent competition to find a plan that meets your personal needs, making sure it’s within your budget.
Keep in mind that you will never really know whether you’re getting the best deal if you fail to shop around. Shopping around can be done by contacting an insurance agent who specializes in health and dental insurance, or you can shop around online, from the comfort of your home. A good dental insurance website should provide you with all the necessary details, fees, etc., and let you compare a number of plans with the click of a button. This way, it’ll be easy to identify the plan that suits you and fits your budget.
Don’t forget to check what current users are saying about the insurer online. It’s also important to find out the insurer’s reputation with the BBB (Better Business Bureau). This will help you avoid fraudulent insurance companies dealing with dental insurance.
2. Get a Recommendation from your Dentist
If you have a rapport with a dentist or you have one you’d like to keep seeing, inquire with them on which plans they would recommend or ones he or she belongs to. Your dentist is also a great resource to learn about the plans you should avoid. In the medical and dental care community, word tends to travel fast, so your dentist should be able to offer you great counsel on which individual plans are good and which ones are bad.
If you currently don’t have a dentist you can contact, get a recommendation from your friend, family or colleague. Most dentists and their staff are more than willing to answer your questions and perhaps secure a new patient.
3. Consider your Personal Dental Needs
Depending on your dental history, your habits and your lifestyle, you will need some form of preventative care like exams, cleanings, x-rays, etc. and extras such as tooth sensitivity treatments, replacing missing teeth, gum disease, sealants, fluoride treatments or even braces. If you are involved in sports or are prone to accidents, you may need things like mouth guards. For seniors, preventative care is paramount as you are more prone to heart issues and conditions such as diabetes.
At a minimum, an individual dental insurance plan should cover much of the costs of the basics such as examinations, cleanings and x-rays. Plans typically will cover from 60% to 80% of the cost of these basic procedures depending on how much you are willing to pay for the dental plan you choose.
It’s also important to consider a plan that offers some coverage for emergency dentistry. If you injure your mouth or break a tooth in some way, you’ll need prompt attention to keep long-term damage to a minimum. Find a plan that covers at least 50% of the total cost of emergency dental care you may need.
Many plans include coverage for specialized or major care in addition to basic care. Major care is such things as root canals, implants, dentures or braces. Cheaper plans only provide minimum coverage for these procedures with some providing none at all. If you currently don’t need specialized or major care, you can save money by choosing a plan that does not cover such treatment. At the very least, a plan that covers the basic procedures is preventative and will help to decrease the likelihood you will require specialized care in the future.
4. Evaluate the Network of Dental Care Providers
It’s important to note that not all dental insurance plans will come with an extensive network of dental care provider. So, before signing up for a plan, ensure there are qualified dentists in your area. Most providers will allow you to browse through their provider directory before purchasing their plan. In case an insurer doesn’t allow you to do this, consider it a red flag and find another provider.
Moreover, ensure you have a number of dentists and dental practices to choose from. Limiting your choice to one dental practice or dentist would mean trouble if you experience issues with their office hours or location, or find yourself dissatisfied with the dentist or a member of staff.
5. Crunch the Numbers
Think ahead and take into account what would happen in a worst-case scenario. You may not enjoy thinking about maxing all of your plan’s benefits, but you have to so that you can make sure your personal dental health plan won’t spell doom for your finances.
As you compare different individual dental insurance plans, figure out how much you might have to pay in a worst-case scenario. Consider things such as out-of-pocket maximums, copays, and deductibles. Keep in mind that the amounts a dentist charges for dental treatments is typically determined by the dental fee guides in the province the dentist resides in. Dentists do not have to adhere to these fees as they are to be a suggested guide only, however many dental plans will base plan coverage on the suggested fees. So inquire with your dentist as to the fees they typically charge and compare to the dental plan coverage.
If you find your calculations going beyond your budget, just look for a different plan.
6. Find out How Treatment is Determined
You don’t want to sign up for a plan where the insurer controls treatment decisions. Some plans will specifically require dentists to treat you using the least expensive methods, even if better treatment options are available. You want to find a plan where you and your dentist decide how your dental problems will be treated. Although you will probably have to pay a higher copayment for expensive procedures and there may be maximums, you should ideally have the choice to do so if you want to.
Although cost is a major concern for most people, you can save a significant amount in the long run if you take your time to consider the kind of dental care you need. With the tips provided above, you will be able to choose a plan that’s right for you and avoid hefty dental expenses by anticipating any needs you may have in the future.
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