15 Dec 2017 Choosing a Dental Insurance Plan
It’s that time of the year again. All you may be thinking of right now is Christmas shopping but the new year starts in just a few weeks. Many companies offer their employees the benefit of joining a dental plan or the chance to change dental plans at the first of the year. Are you set up with one?
Dental insurance is important to have, especially for a family. With dental insurance, people are more likely to go to preventive care checkups and cleanings. Most dentals recommend checkups and cleanings every 6 months. Problems in your mouth, such as cavities, can then be addressed before they become much bigger problems. Without dental insurance, most people, afraid of a large dental bill, will put off needed dental work until they are driven to do it because of pain. By the time you feel pain, problems can be larger and more expensive.
So what kind of insurance options are there? How expensive are they? The best place to start is by considering the dental insurance offered by your employer. Often employers pay part of the cost of the insurance making it cheaper for you. If you are curious about other dental plans offered in Utah, go to https://www.ehealthinsurance.com/utah-health- insurance/health-plans/dental . This website, eHealth, was voted the most usable health insurance exchange website in 2013. It will help you see a number of plans offered and to compare them.
Most people end up joining a managed care plan. What that means is that dentists agree to participate in a network and to perform services for patients at pre-negotiated rated and will usually submit a claim to a dental insurance company for you. Also, managed care plans give discounts for going to “in- network” dentists. Sometimes they won’t cover “out-of- network” dentists.
Every dental plan is different—different monthly payments, deductibles, and percentages you pay per services like fillings. It can be confusing figuring out which plan meets the needs of your family. Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:
How likely is it that someone in my family will need an expensive dental procedure like a root canal or a crown in the next year?
You can’t always predict the future. At the same time, you do know if people have been in pain, and you know what your dentist said at the last checkup. If you know you have major expenses coming up, you might pick a more expensive plan with more coverage. On the other hand, if your family members rarely get cavities and usually just go in for 2 checkups a year, you may not need as extensive of care.
How likely is it that someone in my family will need braces in the next year?
Braces are expensive, usually running close to $4,000. Many insurances will pay $1,000-$2,000. If you know you will be paying for braces in the next year, the amount insurance pays is important and is definitely something to consider.
How important is it to stick with a dentist I’ve already been using? What if my dentist isn’t “in network” on this new insurance?
If you have a dentist that you like, you may feel some loyalty to him or her. It is possible that your dentist may not be covered by your new insurance. You can always check before you sign up for a plan. Ultimately, it comes down to cost. How much is it worth to you to stay with your preferred dentist? To one Utah family, the Spilkers, staying with the dentist they liked was going to cost $800 extra per year. Needless to say, they switched dentists.
How do I figure out which plan to go with?
The best way to choose a plan is to narrow your list down to your top 3 plans. List each plan’s costs and benefits, side by side, on a computer or even on paper. You will more easily be able to see total costs and the pros and cons of each plan.