Dental Insurance

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5 Ways to Get the Most from Your Dental Plan

Dental insurance can seem like an afterthought, especially for individuals and families who do not have access to coverage through an employer. It can seem like an unnecessary added expense. However, dental insurance can be relatively affordable when you find the best plan for you and your family; it helps maintain good oral health; and it can aid in keeping health care costs low … but not if you pay for it and then never use the benefits, or buy an expensive plan and only use it for preventive care.

Getting the most from your dental plan is relatively easy. It all comes down to knowing what you are buying and using it. Here are five tips for maximizing the coverage you already have or the coverage you are about to buy.

1. Go in for routine dental care

Many if not most dental insurance plans cover preventive care at 100 percent, which means two preventive care visits per year. These dental appointments include an exam and cleaning, and they provide the perfect opportunity to discuss any oral health concerns with your dentist. Out of pocket, such visits would typically cost more than your annual dental insurance premium, so take advantage of the benefits. Furthermore, staying on top of routine care helps reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. These preventive visits can also help locate oral health problems early on when they are more treatable and less expensive.

Helpful hint: Don’t wait until the start of the school year or the end of the calendar year to schedule preventive care visits. Try to go at off-peak times to ensure you can actually fit in your two visits and don’t run the risk of finding out your dentist’s appointments are booked solid.

2. See in-network dentists

Using your plan’s in-network providers can help keep costs low. The network’s member dentists contract with your dental carrier to provide services at a discounted rate. It’s an easy way to save more on dental care.

Helpful hint: Before you buy coverage, check the plan’s in-network providers. See if the participating dentists are conveniently located and keep a schedule that works with yours.

3. Understand your dental benefits

Maximize your dental insurance coverage by knowing what benefits it includes. Again, become familiar with what services are covered at 100 percent and use them—you’re paying for them, after all. Does your plan include extras such as an orthodontia discount network or vision discounts? Use those, too.

Helpful hint: It’s best to understand your dental benefits before you even apply for coverage and start paying premium. Buying a plan based on low-cost alone may mean you don’t get adequate benefits to meet your oral health needs. Maybe you anticipate needing fillings, bridges or other care; one plan may cover such costs at a higher percentage than another. Keep that in mind and crunch the numbers; it could end up saving you in the long term. Likewise, if you buy a plan that is too robust and never use it, you might be better off with something more basic.

4. Get coverage before you need services

Dental plans often include a waiting period before new enrollees may take advantage of basic and major care benefits, which includes fillings, root canals, crowns and other procedures. That means you can’t wait until you think you have a cavity to buy dental insurance and expect your basic care benefits to kick in. You may have to wait, and waiting may make matters worse and result in additional pain and discomfort as well as more costly treatment. Dental plans do not typically include a waiting period for preventive care.

Helpful hint: Dental insurance is a primary indicator of access to preventive care for Americans under age 65, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who have it are more likely to see the dentist. Those who see the dentist regularly for routine care decrease their risk for cavities and gum disease. Dental plans are relatively affordable and may be obtained for as little as $12 per month.

5. Buy a plan with added benefits—and use them

As mentioned above, some plans include orthodontia or vision discount programs. Others include association memberships that come with their own perks. For instance, IHC Dental includes membership in Communicating for America, which means access to a prescription drug card as well as discount vision services.

Helpful hint: Again, it all comes down to understanding your plan’s coverage. Familiarize yourself with the fine print before and after you buy. Ask questions of your insurance agent and the carrier’s customer service specialists. Knowing what your monthly premium is getting you means you are more likely to get the most from your dental plan—or any other insurance plan for that matter.

Get a no-obligation quote in seconds at—no personal information is collected until you apply. Need help locating the perfect plan? Contact a sales specialist at 866-645-6630 for assistance.

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