Will my Policy Cover Dental Expenses?
A health insurance plan will not cover the costs of dental care; however, you can get dental benefits by purchasing a dental insurance plan. Dental plans, as well as common health coverage specials are available through major health insurance providers or through insurance companies that specialize in covering the costs of dentistry. There are several different types of dental plans available, ranging from basic coverage to comprehensive protection, to suit a variety of needs.
Adding dental insurance to basic health coverage is an affordable way to protect your general health as well as the condition of your teeth and gums. Keeping your teeth and gums in good condition may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, respiratory conditions and gastrointestinal disturbances. During routine dental exams, dentists can often detect the early signs of serious gum or tooth problems. In addition, routine dental care helps you feel confident about the condition and appearance of your teeth.
Dental Insurance Coverage
Most dental plans cover all or part of the costs of routine preventive care. Preventive dental care includes regular dental exams, teeth cleaning and X rays. Many policies cover these costs at 80 to 100 percent, helping you and your family save money while protecting your oral health. Basic services like fillings or extractions are often covered at up to 80 percent, while more advanced procedures, like root canals, may be covered at 50 percent or more. The extent of your coverage for these services will depend on the policy you choose.
Like health insurance plans, a dental plan may have a deductible, which must be met before your benefits begin. Once you've met the deductible, all or part of the cost of major procedures and dental appliances will be covered by your provider. In general, the higher the deductible on your plan, the lower your monthly premium will be. You may also be charged a copayment for appointments and procedures.
Many dental insurance policies do not cover cosmetic expenses, like tooth whitening, dental implants or bonding. However, some providers will allow you to add coverage for cosmetic procedures at an additional cost. Orthodontic benefits can often be added at an extra cost, which can be useful if you or a family member needs to have your teeth straightened or your bite corrected.
Types of Dental Plans
There are a number of different types of dental plans to meet a variety of needs and budgets. Managed care plans function in the same way as a medical HMO, PPO or EPO. Your care is limited to a network of dentists and other practitioners who have a contract with the insurance company to provide services at a specific rate. If you choose a practitioner outside of the network, you will pay a higher rate. A restricted managed care plan, like a dental HMO, may not cover out of network providers at all.
With a fee for service, or indemnity plan, you have more freedom in your choice of dentists, dental surgeons or orthodontists. Instead of paying a higher monthly premium, you will pay a larger share of the costs for the dental services you receive. When choosing between a managed care plan and an indemnity policy, you must decide whether cost or flexibility is a greater priority for you.
Dental insurance discount plans reduce the cost of exams, cleanings, procedures or appliances by a certain percentage. In order to qualify for a discount, you must find a dentist who participates in the plan. Not all dental services are covered under a discount program. Compare the features and costs of several plans to find the most cost effective strategy for dental care.
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