If you aren’t covered by a dental insurance plan from your employer, it’s a good idea to get coverage of your own. But deciding which coverage to buy into can be a tough choice. Dental savings plans and dental insurance seem like they are the same thing to the untrained eye when in fact they are 2 entirely different beasts.
Dental insurance is like any other type of insurance. You pay a monthly premium (usually billed in a single annual payment), and you receive coverage on qualifying dental procedures. Dental insurance usually covers the bulk of preventative dental work, such as cleanings and x-rays, and some cover the entire thing. Orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry, and more complicated dental work like root canals, bridges, and crowns may not be covered by dental insurance.
With dental insurance, there are a lot of rules that you don’t have with dental plans. For example, there are waiting periods, annual caps, procedure limitations, and deductibles to deal with. There’s paperwork to fill out, claims to make, and forms to sign. There are also restrictions on who is eligible, where you can go to get dental treatment, and when you’re allowed to visit. In general, consumers have found that dental insurance is a lot of rules, regulations, and red tape before you get to the savings.
Dental plans, on the other hand, run on a monthly fee basis, and they resemble a club more than an insurance policy. You pay your dues, and in return, you'll get access to the deep discounts a club member enjoys. Just like a country club member pays their dues and can visit the sauna, golf course, and dining room, a dental plan member can visit dentists and receive discounts on dental work (along with other benefits that are included in the plan).
There are certainly advantages to having dental insurance in certain instances. By and large, however, dental discount plans are more beneficial for the vast majority of people. They’re easier to deal with, have fewer restrictions, and come laden with useful benefits. Here are some of the top reasons dental plans outrank dental insurance any day:
Dollar for dollar, dental plans generally work out cheaper than insurance alternatives. That’s because the annual fees are all-around lower for dental plans than the comparable monthly premiums you’d have to pay with the average dental insurance plan. Additionally, you’ll end up saving money in other areas such as discounted glasses, hearing aids, prescriptions, or other fringe benefits that are packed into your dental plan.
Another way dental plans saves you money (and frustration) is the lack of coverage caps. All dental insurance (no matter how much you pay for premiums) cap your coverage at a certain amount. This means that the insurance company will only cover a certain amount of money each year for your plan. If you end up needing more dental work above this cap, you'll have to pay entirely out of pocket (or wait until the next yearly cycle begins). Caps generally run between $1,000 to $2,000, but if you look at the cost of most dental work (other than basic cleanings and checkups), this amount will hardly cover your procedures. Dental plans have no annual caps; whenever you need work done, you'll receive the discounted price.
Another frustrating aspect of dental insurance are the limits put on your dental work. For example, you may be told that the insurance will only cover 2 cleanings per year. What if you want a third cleaning this year? You’ll have to pay out of pocket. Dental plans give you a discounted price on all dental procedures. So, you can opt to get your teeth cleaned 3, 4, or 10 times in a year, and you’ll always pay the same low price.
This is the real deal-breaker for most people. With most dental insurance plans, you’ll need to wait for the coverage to kick in. This is bad for 2 reasons:
With a dental plan, you'll never have to wait. Your coverage starts the next day (or even the same day with certain brands), and you can visit your dentist whenever you need to, and everything will be fully discounted each time.
As with most types of insurance, dental insurance requires you to spend a certain amount of your own money before the plan kicks in. With a dental plan, your discounts begin immediately and continuously.
Lastly, dental plans are just easier to deal with. You sign up online, so there's no annoying paperwork to figure out. It's a relatively simple process that takes a few minutes, and you're done. Plus, anyone can sign up for a dental plan. Conversely, dental insurance has several caveats that you have to meet, and people with pre-existing conditions may not be eligible for coverage.
As you can see, a dental plan saves you time, money, aggravation, and so much more. It’s really a wonder that people are still settling for dental insurance. Thanks to online signup, you can have a dental plan up and running in a matter of minutes. While every provider has their own specific signup process, this is the general gist:
1. Browse your options
Go to a reliable dental plan provider, and browse through their plans to see what's available. Good brands will offer a variety of plans to suit the various situations so that you can find a plan that works best for you and your finances. You can browse through all the plans or narrow down the options by searching for a specific dentist, location, dental procedure, or specific savings structure.
2. Choose your plan
Once you’ve chosen your plan, just sign up for it. Fill out the fast online form, and within a few minutes, you’ll be the proud owner of your very own dental plan. Depending on the provider, your coverage will start from the same day up to 72 hours. It’s that simple.
3. Visit your dentist
When the need arises, visit one of the participating dentists within the plan’s network. Generally, dental plans have more than 100,000 dentists within their networks, so you shouldn’t have any problem finding a qualified professional that’s also close by.
4. Show your card
At the dentist’s office, simply show the nurse or receptionist your dental plan card. They’ll automatically give you the discounted price on any procedure that you’re having done. It’s like a VIP pass to savings. Dental plan providers work out arrangements with participating dentists, so they will give you a lower price for the dental work being done. Then the plan providers pass the savings on to you.
5. Sit back and enjoy the savings
Saving with dental plans is as easy as 1-2-3, and the savings aren't limited to dental visits. Most dental plan providers offer bundled deals for discounts on other medical procedures and products. For example, the top names in dental discount plans also cover chiropractic, hearing, and vision checkups, treatments, aids, and products. Others will cover pharmaceuticals, and still, others will spread the savings beyond medical expenses. Saving has never been easier, so sign up, and start enjoying the discounts instantly.