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Top 10 Dental Plan Essentials

If you're searching for a dental plan or looking to change plans, there are some key factors you should be searching for to make sure that you'll be getting the most out of your new plan. Here are some suggestions for what to search for when it comes to an ideal dental plan that you and your family can truly benefit from.


1. Payment.

One of the most important things you'll want to know about a potential dental plan is how much per month you'll need to set aside for payment. Many plans, even family plans, are less than $200 per month. You'll also need to know how much the dental insurance company will cover per visit, or the co-pay. This will let you know how much will actually come out of your pocket, even if the total price of the plan is different. Deductibles are another part of health insurance plans that affect the cost. Make sure that you know the deductible amount that has to be met before the insurance company begins to help pay for your dental services, or if a deductible must be met at all. In most cases, the dental plan's deductible is annual, and cumulative if you've applied for a family plan.


2. Services.

Finding out exactly what services you're eligible for with your new dental plan is necessary before you schedule a visit to a dentist. Many families only need basic care, which covers things like teeth cleanings, x-rays, gum treatment, or other treatments like fillings or root canals. If no one in the family has braces (or will need them in the future), and everyone is in basically good dental health, a basic coverage plan would probably be most logical. However, if you need major dental work done, like partial or complete dentures, dental crowns, bridgework, or braces, a plan with more coverage is best. Of course, these plans tend to be a little more expensive, but it is usually not by too much.


3. Diagnostic/Preventative Treatments.

In addition to finding out which services you'll be eligible with your new dental plan, make sure that you can receive preventative treatments as well, especially if children are included in your plan. This is similar to a wellness program with a health insurance company, and could keep your family cavity-free.


4. Company Reputation.

Knowing that the dental insurance company you're considering is well-known and has a good reputation, whether the company is local or national, will definitely make you feel better about applying for a plan. The best way to check a company's reputation is to find a list of dentists in the area that accept the insurance, and/or to talk to a representative of the insurance company to find out how many people in your city or state have applied for this insurance and are happy with it. Of course, you could always use word-of-mouth to give you a realistic idea of what you can expect from the insurance company. If you have friends, family, or co-workers that use the insurance you're considering, ask about the availability of quality dentists, the effectiveness of the work done, and how affordable the plan is per month.


5. Availability.

One thing that may seem obvious that many people searching for insurance forget to consider is the physical availability of the company. While you can find dental insurance online and apply through the mail, it's a good idea to make sure that there is an affiliate office in your area or a surrounding city, or to make sure that the plan you are applying for isn't exclusively regional. Many people assume that dental insurance plans are national, which is true in a lot of cases, but making sure that there are dental offices in your area that will accept your particular plan without having to travel out of your way for treatment will save you time and money in the long run.


6. Plan variety.

The variety of services offered by your plan is especially important if you are applying for a group or family plan. Be sure that everyone who will be included in the plan will have their dental needs covered, from crowns to extractions and everything in between; then choose a plan that will accommodate everyone. For children, you may even be able to choose a dental provider that specializes in children's dental care, which can put your kids at ease when it comes time to go to the dentist (which can be scary for children and adults).


7. Plan Usage.

How soon will you be able to start using your plan? Will you have to go through a lengthy application process before you receive your insurance card? What do you need in order to qualify for this particular dental plan? Before you begin the application process, be sure you know how long it will take to actually start using your plan; keep in mind that being able to use your plan sooner doesn't always mean ‘better'.


8. Open/Closed Panel Plan.

For an open panel insurance plan, you will be able to choose the dental providers for you and your family. If you apply for a closed-panel plan, your providers will be chosen for you. If you choose a closed-panel plan, this may not be a bad thing; just make sure that you can view a list of providers in your area, along with contact information from each dental office.


9. Allowances.

How many people are allowed on your plan? Is the plan for one member and a spouse, a family of four, or can extended family be added to the plan as well? This information should be included in the plan summary that you'll find online or in a dental insurance brochure, but if not, be sure to ask about this before signing anything.


10. Added Features.

Many dental plans will also offer other benefits that basic health insurance may not cover, such as vision care (payment for eyeglasses and contacts) or even discounts on certain prescriptions. Many employee insurance plans include this feature, but if you'd like to add this plan to your existing health insurance, this can be very affordable. Supplemental plan information can be found online from reputable insurance companies, like TriCare, Kaiser Permanente, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.



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