Indeed, dental insurance programs come in a wide range of policies. Many facets and features exist as each company and each type of policy offers something different. But for the most part, there are common aspects which require reviewing before purchasing dental insurance.
Outlined are ten basic points to understand when choosing a dental insurance policy.
- 1. Not all insurance companies offer dental insurance alone. Several major companies require that clients purchase general health insurance with extended coverage which includes dental. And then once one chooses extended coverage, there may be different packages which apply to dental. For example, the company may offer a cheaper bundle that includes regular dental visits and maintenance as well as higher end packages that cover more serious procedures.
- 2. An employer-sponsored health plan may already include some form of dental insurance. Depending on the package for which the employee is willing to pay, there may be copay costs by visit or there may be a lump sum or deductible paid yearly before the policy goes into effect.
- 3. Some dental insurance programs are accepted directly by the dentist office while others are reimbursement programs. Usually, the dentist's office will send a quote to the insurer to have the work approved so that the client knows the treatment is covered and the dentist knows he/she is getting paid. But it still may be necessary to pay upfront and wait for reimbursement.
- 4. There are age restrictions on dental insurance policies. Some companies do not allow customers over sixty-nine to apply for coverage. Other companies automatically terminate coverage at seventy years old.
- 5. Various insurance companies also offer "staged" coverage or levels of coverage. For example, routine exams and regular maintenance is covered to ninety or one hundred percent while more serious procedures such as dentures may only be eligible for fifty percent reimbursement.
- 6. If one is a new client of the insurance company, one will most likely be required to complete a medical filing disclosing medical history. On the other hand, if one is transferring a policy, the questionnaire may be waived.
- 7. Specific programs are a type of HMO or Preferred Network whereby the client is required to consult a dentist from an approved list.
- 8. Prepaid dental insurance is quite convenient for clients, as routine exams and diagnostics are completely covered without prior approval or waiting for reimbursements. Each member of the family on the same policy may choose different providers as long as they are chosen from the company's provided list. In addition pre-existing conditions may be covered, and clients are free to change providers.
- 9. Not all companies offer policies to the end user. Some are corporate providers whose clients are employers purchasing on behalf of employees (group plans), while others permit online purchasing of polices.
- 10. Interestingly, there are also programs that provide deep discounts to dental care. Although, they are not dental insurance per se, they are beneficial to those who may require emergency treatment or those not interested in full dental coverage.