Confused about dental insurance vs. dental discount plans?

Many employers offer dental insurance to workers. Individual policies are also available. Dental insurance often has little or no cost for preventive care and covers all or part of certain dental expenses. More complex dental procedures are subject to a deductible. Some policies link the deductible to a benefit schedule (filling, root canal, crown, implant, etc.). Others require the policyholder pay a percent of the usual and customary charge. Dental insurance may have an annual benefit payout limit unless the plan is an HMO. Dental HMO's typically have copay requirements.

  • Review cost and benefit specifics of the dental insurance plan you are considering.
  • Find out if coverage is restricted to dentists within a provider network and what happens if you receive care from a dentist outside the network.
  • Ask how claims are processed. Some insurers pay the dentist directly. Others require the policyholder to submit a claim form and payment documentation.

Dental discount plans, on the other hand, are programs where participants pay less for services performed by participating dentists. Discount plans do not have deductibles, waiting periods, or maximum payouts.

  • Consider the cost of joining the discount plan against price discounts and participating dentists.