Dental Insurance

Dental Insurance

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  1. Nobody enjoys having their teeth hurt or having to deal with cavities, but it seems most dentists these days charge everything up to and including your first born child for even relatively minor work. One option to get good dental care and to lower your dental bills is to obtain dental insurance.

    How to Find Dental Insurance

    Most people are able to access dental plans through their employer or through a spouse’s employer. These plans are especially desirable, because you qualify for your employer’s group rates and because your employer can sometimes help intercede if there is a dispute about coverage.

    If you are on Medicare, you may be surprised to find that Medicare doesn’t cover most dental work. However, some supplemental Medicare insurance policies, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, offer highly affordable dental plans. If you are over the age of 65 or disabled, purchasing one of these plans is an excellent way to get affordable dental care.

    The American Association for Retired Persons (AARP) contracts with Delta Dental to offer its members a group insurance plan, and TriCare, a healthcare provider for retired US military and their families, also provides dental coverage.

    If you don’t qualify for any of the above mentioned programs, you may need to purchase an individual or family dental plan. There are several Internet sites that can direct you to companies that sell dental insurance in your area. Plans typically cost around $150 US Dollars per year for individuals and an additional $50 US Dollars per year for families.

    What Does Dental Insurance Cover?

    Dental insurance companies are usually big on preventive care, realizing they can save both themselves and their clients money by catching problems early or, better yet, avoiding them altogether. Therefore, most plans offer at least two exams and cleanings per year with either a small co-pay or no co-pay at all.

    When it comes to problems that are considered relatively minor, like cavities, the coverage also holds up fairly well. Most plans will not pay the complete cost of a filling, but they will pay a good percentage.

    Unfortunately, many dental plans drop the ball when it comes to major repairs: dentures, bridges, surgery (although surgery may be covered by your medical plan; don’t forget to check), and extensive orthodontic work. They usually pay only a small percentage for these procedures or products. Furthermore, most dental plans have an annual cap of $1000 to $2000 US Dollars per year. Once they have paid out this amount in annual benefits, you’re on your own for the rest of the year.

    Finally, most dental plans do not cover cosmetic work such as having your teeth straightened or whitened.

    Finding Dentists

    Like many health insurance plans, many dental plans have become preferred provider organizations (PPO’s). A PPO pays better benefits if you see a dentist that practices in their network. If you see an out-of-network dentist, your deductibles and co-pays will be higher, and you may not be able to access some major services at all.

    If you like your current dentist, and if you have a choice in selecting dental plans, choose one that covers your dentist. Of course, you may not have a choice in dental plans. If your dentist is not a network provider, you will have to decide whether continuing to see your current dentist is worth the extra cost.

    If you decide it is not, you will have to selct an in-network dentist. To locate one near you, call your dental plan’s customer service number and ask for a list of dentists that provide care in your area. Most dental plans also have Internet sites where you can search for participating dentists.

    Before you choose a new dentist, you may want to set up a short appointment to interview him or her and make sure your styles and your philosophies of care are a good match. For instance, a brusque, short-spoken dentist is probably not a good match for a nervous patient who requires a lot of hand-holding.

    Dental care can be very expensive, but it’s important to keep your teeth in good shape. Dental insurance can help improve your oral health by lowering the cost of care to affordable levels.

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