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Why Buy Dental Insurance [UPDATED]

Thomas J Catalano is a CFP and Registered Investment Adviser with the state of South Carolina, where he launched his own financial advisory firm in 2018. Thomas' experience gives him expertise in a variety of areas including investments, retirement, insurance, and financial planning.

why buy dental insurance

But whether dental insurance is worth it depends on how much it costs and what you get from the coverage. You also have to think about why you want dental coverage. Do you want something that just pays for prevention measures or would you prefer more comprehensive coverage?

Dental insurance picks up the tab on many covered services and treatments, up to a certain percentage, based on your plan. But make no mistake: You will be responsible for paying some or most of the expenses for most dental care.

The average cost of dental insurance is $47 a month for a stand-alone dental plan. The average cost of a dental plan for only preventive care is $26 a month, but these plans will not include coverage for fillings, extractions or major work such as root canals.

Premiums are only part of the cost equation. Depending on your plan, you may also be responsible for copays, coinsurance, deductibles and treatment that exceeds annual coverage maximums. A cheap dental insurance plan could leave you paying a lot out of pocket if you visit the dentist.

Most dental insurance plans commonly cover three areas of care: preventive, basic and major. Michael Bass, client advisor for World Insurance Associates, says many dental insurance policies typically provide:

You may benefit from a dental insurance plan if you regularly see a dentist and can get a low-premium plan or if you need to see a dentist and find a plan with no waiting period and high annual benefits.

Put another way, your dentist will likely accept your dental insurance plan, but they may be out of network, in which case you may pay more or all of the costs than if you went to an in-network provider. For best results, contact your dentist or insurance company before receiving treatment to learn if and to what extent your forthcoming services will be covered.

Erik J. Martin is a Chicago area-based freelance writer and public relations expert whose articles have been featured in AARP The Magazine, Reader's Digest, The Costco Connection, The Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and other publications. He often writes on topics related to real estate, personal finance, technology, health care, insurance, and entertainment. He also publishes several blogs, including and, and hosts the Cineversary podcast.

About two-thirds of people who do have insurance get it through their job-. If it's offered to you, it almost always makes sense to take it because employers subsidize the monthly premiums and can negotiate lower rates for dentists in their network. The employee contribution toward the premium is generally pretty low.

Of course, getting regular dental checkups is important for your health. Untreated conditions can lead to serious health problems or indicate an underlying medical issue. Getting routine care can prevent more serious and costly treatment down the road, says Dave Preble, D.D.S., senior vice president of the American Dental Association's Practice Institute.

Premiums for private plans vary widely, and you can opt for a low-cost plan. In a recent search on eHealth, an online insurance marketplace, individual coverage ranged from $20 to $80 a month for plans with $50 to $100 deductibles and an annual max of $1,000 to $2,000.

Given all that, "it's hard to make paying for private dental coverage seem worthwhile," he says. "If you're one of those people who doesn't need a lot of dental work, you are likely to save money by paying out of pocket."

Forgoing dental insurance is also less risky than going without medical coverage. Unlike comprehensive health insurance, which can protect you financially from catastrophic health problems that can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, you're not likely to rack up such enormous bills even if you have fairly significant dental needs.

Though limited, some major dental work may be covered by your health insurance, such as a serious dental procedure that requires hospitalization or treatment in an emergency room for a mouth injury because of an accident.

Get covered if you can. As mentioned above, employer-subsidized plans are the best way to get dental care covered for working adults. For seniors over 65, Medicare insurance doesn't cover dental services, but you can buy a private Medicare Advantage plan with a supplemental plan for dental coverage.

Some Medicare Advantage plans charge additional premiums for dental, averaging $284 a year in 2016, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Seniors can also look for plans through groups like AARP.

States are required by the Affordable Care Act to provide dental benefits to children covered by Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Some states also provide a dental benefit to adults who have Medicaid.

If you're a veteran and have a service-connected disability, you may be eligible for free comprehensive dental care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other veterans can buy dental insurance at a reduced rate.

Create a dental emergency fund. Put aside money you might have used for premiums. If you can, save the money in a tax-advantaged account. With a flexible spending account, which is available only with workplace healthcare plans, you can put away money pretax to pay for medical expenses, including dental, that your insurer doesn't cover.

And if you have a high deductible health plan (HDHP), you can fund a Health Savings Account (HSA) with pre-tax money and use it on a range of healthcare costs including dental. Note, you can't use both an FSA and an HSA.

Go to a dental school. You could pay 30 percent to 40 percent less on dental services at university dental schools compared to a private practice. You'll get care from students supervised by dentists but the downside is that it's very time consuming.

"It's much slower because the student is doing work under the supervision of an instructor," says Preble. Visits are longer and care that could be done in a few sessions in a dental office could take a few months to complete.

Check a community health center. Some offer dental care and charge on a sliding scale based on your income. But they may have limited services and, possibly, waiting lists. Call your local health department or state dental association, or go to Tooth Wisdom to find clinics near you.

Consider a dental savings plan. These are membership programs, where you pay $80 to $200 a year to get access to a network of dentists who offer discounts. Check the number of dentists locally that participate. You can search for a savings plan at

Shop around. Whether or not you have insurance, you pay a lot for expensive procedures so you should compare prices for big ticket items. Use sites like Healthcare Bluebook and FAIR Health to research prices where you live.

Dentists are open to negotiating prices and often will offer a discount if you pay for a procedure when you get the service. Some dentists offer in-office dental plans for people without benefits. Patients pay a small monthly fee and get basic care for free and discounts on other services.

Spread out services. Many employer plans provide 100 percent coverage for getting a checkup twice a year. But if you're paying on your own and in good dental health, once a year may be enough according to American Dental Association guidelines, says Preble.

The ADA also says that adults with generally healthy teeth only need bitewing x-rays every 18 to 36 months. There's no one-size-fits-all dental treatment though, says Preble. You can go to the ADA's site for more information on paying for dental care, preventive care and recommended frequency of visits.

If you are buying dental insurance on your own, we make it easy to find an affordable plan, including options that bundle vision and hearing coverage. Our plans start from around $1 a day.1 Shop year-round, 24/7/365, and join the over 18 million customers who choose Cigna Dental.2

$100-$250 deductibles10 Up to $5,000 in benefits $0 dental check-ups, after deductible, including cleanings and routine x-rays5 See any dentist you'd like, but save more with a dentist in the Total Cigna DPPO network

Product availability may vary by location and plan type and is subject to change. All health insurance policies and health benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For costs and details of coverage, review your plan documents or contact a Cigna representative.

Delta Dental of Missouri / South Carolina will soon launch upgrades in its dental benefits administration system, which are scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, April 2, 2023. As a result, eligibility and claims information will not be accessible from 6 p.m. Central on Friday, March 31, through 5 p.m. Central on Sunday, Sunday, April 2, 2023.

If you are experiencing a medical or dental emergency, you should seek appropriate emergency medical or dental assistance, such as calling "911."To begin using the Dental Care Cost Estimator tool, click the Agree button below. By clicking, you agree that you have read the information below, are accessing this information for purposes of determining treatment cost estimates for dental care services you are considering receiving, and will not use the information in this tool for a commercial or anti-competitive purpose. The costs provided in this tool are estimates only and are not a guarantee of payment or benefits. Your actual cost may be higher or lower than the estimate for various reasons. 041b061a72


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