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Best Affordable Dental Insurance

Taking care of our oral health is an important part of health maintenance as we age. Whether you have dentures or not, oral health is a vital component in overall health and wellness. The health of our teeth and gums can affect our general wellbeing.

As well as keeping your teeth clean and gums healthy, your dentist can also spot issues that might point to problems elsewhere in the body. For example, bleeding gums can be a sign of diabetes, so if your dentist notices this is an issue, they can advise you what to do next, including seeing your primary care physician.

Dental insurance keeps you covered for dental treatments so you’re less likely to skip out on treatments. However, the cost of dental insurance is a concern for some seniors and can lead to missing appointments or going long stretches of time without treatments and checkups.

Let’s take a closer look at dental insurance, and check out some providers who offer reasonably priced plans.

What Is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance covers you for treatments such as checkups, teeth cleaning, x rays and fillings. Some plans also cover you for more involved procedures, dentures or crowns, dental emergencies, or if you break or crack a tooth. There are also dental plans that include vision coverage.

Most dental insurance works by offering you a choice of providers from an agreed-upon network of dentists. These dentists work with your provider to offer treatments at a lower cost. When you need treatment, you search for a dentist that’s covered by your insurance provider and save money by paying a reduced fee at the office.

How Does Dental Insurance Work?

In most cases, you simply find a pre-approved dentist and pay a reduced fee when attending the office for treatment. In some cases, you may need to file an insurance claim with your provider to recoup the cost after the fact (and sometimes your dentist can help with filing that.)

Like most types of insurance, dental insurance usually includes deductibles and copays. Deductibles are the amount you need to pay yourself before your insurance kicks in, while copays are the amount of each treatment you need to cover. Some providers also have a cap on how much they’ll payout per year.

Dental insurance plans do vary as to how deductibles, caps, and copays work, and what the amounts are, so double check before purchasing a plan. These out of pocket expenses affect how much you’ll pay overall for dental care so do factor those in alongside the direct treatment costs.

Some insurers will also cover you if you use an out-of-network dentist. However, the amount you can claim is likely to be much lower than if you use an in-network dentist. Not every insurer covers out-of-network treatments though, so it’s good to double-check that before signing up.

If you already have a dentist you prefer, you can ask them if they take the dental insurance you are considering. If they do, check out those insurers first to see if any of them suit you – if they do, you can sign up for a plan with them and stick with your preferred dentist.

Can Choosing An HMO Help You Save Money?

Most dental insurance plans fall into one of two categories: PPO (Preferred Provider Organizations) or HMO (Health Maintenance Organizations).

With an HMO you typically pay less, so they might be worth considering if your budget is a major concern right now. However, HMO plans are more restrictive as to which dentists you can see, and which procedures are covered. You’ll need to choose a primary dentist, who will then refer you to others if deemed necessary, and your deductibles will likely be higher to offset the lower premiums.

A PPO plan lets you choose your dentist from among a network of providers. The premiums are a bit higher, but the freedom of choice is much greater as a result. Most plans fall into this category, however, an HMO is better than no coverage if money is tight.

What To Know Before Signing Up for Dental Insurance

Before committing to a dental plan, it’s important to know:

  • Which dentists you can see in your local area.
  • What kinds of procedures the plan covers.
  • How much you’ll pay for deductibles and copays.
  • Whether the plan is a PPO or HMO.
  • If the plan has a cap on how much it pays out per year (once you reach that cap you’ll need to meet the expenses yourself.)
  • How much you’ll pay for each office visit.
  • If the plan restricts your treatment options to the cheaper treatments available rather than letting you choose based on which is best for you.

Always check the small print before signing up for any plan, especially when it comes to caps, copays, deductibles and other out of pocket costs.

Affordable Dental Insurance Plans

Here are three dental providers that are quite budget-friendly. Quotes do vary depending on your circumstances and the best plan for you, so don’t hesitate to call them and find out more.

Aetna

Aetna has been around since the 19th century, and today offers dental coverage to over 12 million people.

Do they offer out of network coverage? Depending on your plan – some will let you use an out of network dentist and still claim some expenses.
Are HMO Plans available? Yes
How do I find a dentist? It’s easy to find a dentist using their online portal and you can even search by geographical region and by the dentist’s specialty.
How do I claim? Their network automatically offers reduced rates, so you’ll save at the point of service.
Is there a deductible? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Are there any copays? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Are there any restrictions? Most plans will only cover dentures or crowns if you lost the teeth after starting your Aetna coverage. Some plans have age restrictions, too.
Anything else? In some circumstances, Aetna will cover the cost of treatments that were started before you took out your insurance – get in touch with them to find out if you’re eligible.

Cigna

Cigna’s parent companies, Connecticut General Life and INA Corporation, have been around for a long time. The two merged in 1982, and Cigna was born.

Are HMO Plans available? Yes
How do I find a dentist? Cigna has a nationwide network of over 89,000 dentists. You can use their online portal to find one near you.
Is there a deductible? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Are there any copays? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Anything else? Cigna offers $0 deductibles on routine procedures such as cleaning or an x-ray, and monthly plans start as low as $19, so they’re a good budget-friendly option. You can also compare each dentist’s patient scores, professional history, and affordability on Cigna’s online portal.

Solstice

Solstice Benefits was founded in 1998 and operate out of Plantation, FL. They offer a range of benefits with the aim of reducing dental costs for customers nationwide.

Do they offer out of network coverage? No
How do I find a dentist? Search the Solstice network of dental providers nationwide.
How do I claim? Solstice offers two kinds of plans to individuals. The first is an HMO plan, where customers pre-pay for their care via premiums and copays. The second is a discount dental plan where members present their membership card at participating dentists to receive discounts at the point of treatment.
Is there a deductible? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Are there any copays? In some cases yes – the amount and details depend on your plan.
Are there any restrictions? No health restrictions.
Anything else? It’s worth noting that the Solstice HMO plan is open access. That means you can use any of their in-network dentists without needing to choose a primary dentist, making it much more flexible than most HMO plans.

Dental insurance doesn’t have to cost a fortune and is cheaper in the long run than paying for everything out of pocket. Your oral health is important so if you don’t have insurance or your insurance is too costly there are affordable dental insurance options out there.