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Dental Insurance

When faced with a limited budget, dental insurance is an area where many people cut back. But the health of your teeth and gums impacts your overall health and tooth injuries and accidents can happen to anyone. Regular cleaning and check-ups are excellent preventative maintenance which can help avoid more serious and costly dental work in the future. Dental insurance can protect you from the rising costs of dental care and make possible affordable and regular dental care. If your employer offers group dental insurance you should take advantage of this, but if you do not have access to dental insurance through work, there are also individual policies and dental plans that can help.

There are several different types of dental insurance and dental plans for groups, individuals and families which offer differing coverage. The major types are managed care insurance and indemnity (fee-for-service) insurance. Managed care programs include: Dental Preferred Providers Organization (PPO), Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) and Dental Point of Service (POS). These tend to have lower up-front costs for the patient, usually a small co-payment (fee paid at the time of your dental visit), less paperwork for you to submit to make a claim and coverage up to a set annual limit or scheduled amount per procedure. However in most cases you are limited to a network of dental care professionals who have agreed to work with that insurance program. If you want more flexibility of choice in your dental professional, then you may opt for an indemnity insurance policy. These policies involve more paperwork and upfront costs, as you need to pay for the dental services and then submit a claim to the insurance company for reimbursement. Depending on your coverage, you may need to pay a deductible or you may receive 100% of the cost up to a maximum allowable per procedure.

When comparing policies, you should check their coverage for different types of dental services and procedures. Policies that cover basic dental care are likely to include preventative care such as cleaning, checkups and sometimes x-rays as well as basic dental procedures such as fillings, extractions, fixing chipped teeth and sometimes root canals. Some policies also cover major dental work such as crowns, dental surgery, orthodontics and dentures. Policies will differ in the maximum annual amount (the maximum amount of coverage available per year). You cannot carry unused coverage over to the following year. Policies also vary in: the deductibles charged, whether you need to pay a co-payment (up front fee paid at the time of visit), how much paperwork you need to handle to submit claims and whether you need to use a set network of dental care providers.

Dental plans are not insurance policies. They vary widely, but generally are fee-for-membership plans which qualify you for discounted rates with a network of participating dental professionals.

Dental insurance is a cost-effective way to benefit from regular dental care and protect yourself from the sometimes high costs of necessary dental procedures.