How to Buy Dental Insurance: A Quick Step-by-Step Guide

how to buy dental insuranceBuying dental insurance is an excellent way to protect your dental health. Dental insurance pays for regular checkups that may include the cost of routine exams, cleaning, and X-rays. Also, getting dental insurance reduces the cost of expensive dental work such as fillings, bridges, extractions, root canals, and crowns.

Knowing how to buy dental insurance is vital to ensure you get the coverage you require. Dental plans vary when it comes to co-pays, deductibles, and in-network providers. As with buying any insurance, it’s worth shopping around for the best dental plan available.

Getting dental insurance is always a good idea because many health plans don’t include dental work. If a standard health insurance plan happens to cover visits to the dentist, then your options may be minimal.

This article is a step-by-step guide on how to buy dental insurance. You will learn about the various dental plans available. Additionally, you’ll find out when the best time to buy dental insurance is.

How Dental Insurance Works

Like all insurance, you pay a monthly premium for dental insurance. The level of cover and insurance options determine how much you pay every month. Most dental plans work on a co-insurance basis. This means that after you pay your deductible, you pay a percentage of the procedure’s cost.

Typically, dental insurance plans have a 100/80/50 structure. This means that your insurance pays 100 percent of costs relating to preventive care — exams, cleaning, and X-rays. If you need basic procedures such as fillings, the plan pays 80 percent of the cost. Then, for major procedures, insurance pays 50 percent.

It’s good to remember that dental insurance plans may have a different structure. For example, cheaper premiums may have a 100/50/20 structure. This means you’ll have higher out-of-pocket costs for any dental work.

Types of Private Dental Insurance Plans

Before looking for the best deals on dental insurance, it’s vital to know the three types of dental insurance plans available.

Here is a brief overview of what typical dental insurance plans include:

  • Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) — A DHMO plan has low premiums and rarely has an annual maximum. You have to pay a deductible and co-pay, but you must see an in-network dentist.
  • Dental Preferred Provider Organization (DPPO) — A DPPO covers the cost of most procedures on the dentist’s plan. This plan has higher premiums and higher deductibles. There is also a limit on how much the plan pays out annually. However, you can choose your dentist.
  • Dental Indemnity Insurance — This type of dental insurance has the most options; however, it has the highest premiums. You can go to any dentist, and only pay a percentage of the cost.

Step-By-Step Guide How to Buy Dental Insurance

Let’s look in more detail at how to buy dental insurance to look after your smile.

1. Decide who needs coverage

First, it’s crucial to know who needs dental insurance. It’s a good idea to check with your existing medical insurance plan. Some employer’s health insurance plans include dental cover for spouses and dependent children. If you receive Medicaid, then, possibly, it could include some dental services.

In most cases, you need to get dental insurance for each adult. And you should be aware that your private dental plan — unlike health insurance — won’t include dependent children between ages 19 and 26.

2. How much can you afford for out-of-pocket costs?

Second, you should determine how much you can pay in deductibles and co-pays. According to the HealthCare.gov website, dental plans with lower premiums typically have higher deductibles and co-pays. Buying dental insurance with low co-pays and deductibles result in having to pay more per month in premiums.

For example, choosing to buy DHMO dental insurance may be more affordable. You’ll also have lower costs for dental work and have little or even no deductible to pay. However, it’s not always easy to find an in-network provider.

On the other hand, buying dental insurance with a DPPO plan means you can visit any dentist. This can mean getting an appointment faster, and you don’t need referrals to see a specialist. But you’ll have higher premiums and deductibles to pay.

How can you know how to buy dental insurance that fits your needs? Is it best to buy a DHMO or DPPO plan? If you want to keep dental care costs to a minimum, then a DHMO plan works best. However, if you prefer choosing your dentist or live in a large city, then a DPPO will probably be ideal.

3. Dental insurance and pre-existing conditions

Before purchasing dental insurance, it’s essential to find out about coverage for pre-existing conditions. Some dental plans won’t pay for any major work that your dentist finds on the first checkup. However, if you shop around, you can find insurance providers that will cover some of the cost of pre-existing conditions.

With the right dental insurance plan, you could lower out-of-pocket expenses for root canals, crowns, denture replacements, or even replace a missing tooth. 

4. Consider the costs and your budget

Knowing how to buy the ideal dental insurance plan comes down to the cost vs. coverage. The best plan should be affordable for your family. However, it’s essential to balance coverage with the price. For example, coverage should include thinking about the range of in-network dentists and the type of dental work covered.

Here are the four crucial factors to help decide on which dental insurance plan to buy:

  • Premiums
  • Co-pays
  • Deductibles
  • Annual maximum

Can You Get Dental Insurance Anytime?

It’s good to know that you can buy private dental insurance anytime. All you need to do is find the type of insurance plan that fits your needs. DHMO plans are more affordable but have fewer options when it comes to choosing your dentist. DPPO plans are more expensive, but you can choose treatment at any dental practice.

There are some restrictions on when you can buy dental insurance via a Medicare Advantage plan. You can only get this type of dental insurance during the Medicare enrollment period.

How to Buy Dental Insurance: Key Takeaway

The best way to buy dental insurance is to balance the amount of cover you need and the annual cost. You can buy dental insurance anytime, so it’s worth looking around for the best dental plans. Dental insurance helps make caring for the health of your teeth and gums affordable.