What is Dental Coverage - Understanding Dental Insurance Coverage

What is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is a form of insurance coverage purchased to reduce the share of out-of-pocket costs associated with dental care.

What Does Dental Insurance Cover?

Dental insurance typically covers procedures that improve the general health of your teeth and gums, including preventative services, basic dental procedures, and major services such as crowns and oral surgery. Depending on the procedure, consumers often have to fulfill a "waiting period" before a carrier will pay for a share of the dental costs.

Dental insurance benefits are not standardized. One dental plan may cover a different collection of services than another dental plan. Before enrolling, it is important to evaluate a dental plan’s benefits. Some of the services you may want to confirm within the plan are:

  • Dental exams every six months
  • X-Ray
  • Teeth cleaning
  • Fluoride treatments
  • Fillings
  • Crown
  • Bridge
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canal
  • Oral surgery

In many cases, dental insurance plans won't cover "specialized" procedures such as cosmetic dentistry and orthodontia.

Finding Dental Insurance Coverage

Typically, there are two ways to obtain dental insurance coverage:

Health insurance plans that include dental coverage: Dental coverage can be included in health insurance plans whether as a standard benefit or optional benefit. If dental coverage is optional, the monthly premium of the health plan will increase if you chose to include dental coverage within your benefits.

Stand-alone dental plans: If your individual health plan doesn’t provide dental coverage, you may want to enroll in a stand-alone dental plan. However, you will be required to pay a separate monthly premium for dental coverage on top of your monthly premium for medical coverage.

Not all dentists accept all dental insurance plans. Before receiving a dental service, you should confirm that your dentists accepts your plan’s coverage.

Dental Coverage and the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (aka "Obamacare") reshaped the health insurance marketplace and provided rewards and challenges for consumers.

In regards to dental coverage, the Affordable Care Act determined that dental coverage for children is an essential health benefit. As a result, children cannot be denied dental insurance coverage. However, dental insurance coverage for adults is not required by the Affordable Care Act and thus, you can be denied dental coverage.

Dental Insurance Alternatives: Discount Cards

If you want to reduce your out of pocket dental insurance without enrolling in a dental insurance plan, you may want to consider dental discount cards. Although not classified as a traditional insurance plan, discount cards provide reduced rates on dental services. As is the case with traditional dental insurance, dental discount cards are not accepted by all dentists and your should confirm the discount card’s acceptance prior to a dental procedure.

Whether you elect a traditional dental insurance plan or a dental discount card, you can find both on our online dental comparison tool in order to reduce your out of pocket dental costs.


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