What to Consider When Choosing a Dental Insurance Plan?
Navigating the dental insurance market can be a bit nerve-racking, not unlike going to the dentist. However, when evaluating plans, there are some things to keep in mind that can make the process a little easier. Let’s explore some of these considerations.
Which Dentist You Can Choose
Many dental plans for older adults are managed care plans, meaning the providers have agreed to offer their services at a reduced rate. Because not all providers will participate, that typically means networks are limited, and you’ll be choosing a plan based on a list of their participating providers.
When evaluating plans, it’s important to research which providers are included and select a plan that features either a dentist you know, and trust (or has been referred to you) or is close by and easy to access. If you have a current dentist you like, check with them and see which insurance they accept, it could help influence your decision as you’re weighing options.
What the Plan Covers and What You’re Paying For
This consideration is the crux of choosing dental insurance. Unlike medical insurance, which has a much more comprehensive range of potential procedures from hip replacements to cancer treatment, the dental care procedures menu is much more limited and easier to itemize. Before selecting a plan, it’s not only essential to get a full range of what procedures are covered, but what these procedures will cost you when all is said and done.
When evaluating potential plan options, take a long look at which procedures are covered based on any potential outcomes you can see for yourself. Obviously, no one can predict the future, but if you’re signing onto a dental insurance plan that requires you to pay 90 percent of prosthodontic care when you’re at an age when dentures may be in your immediate future, it may not be the best plan for your needs.
Beyond treatment care, there are some additional costs associated with dental care that you should consider in a dental plan. One of these costs is the potential out-of-pocket cost for office visits. Another figure to consider is the deductible, meaning how much you will have to pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in. Some plans also have insurance caps, which are a maximum cost that the plan will cover in a given year.
The best insurance will offer minimal out-of-pocket costs; generous price splits for standard procedures, high annual caps, and low deductibles. Still, as with everything, these figures tend to exist in some balance, with certain elements being higher than others.
Pro Tip: PPO vs. HMO Plans: One other differentiation point between dental plans is PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) and HMO (Health Maintenance Organizations). As a general rule, we recommend selecting a PPO plan if possible for your price range. HMOs tend to offer lower deductibles, which can mean more out-of-pocket expenses, fewer treatment options, and limited provider networks.