Dental work can be incredibly expensive. From root canals and crowns to implants, it is quite easy to rack up a bill of several thousand dollars. If your dental office doesn’t allow for payment plans, that means putting your balance on a credit card and accruing unnecessary interest, or worse yet, going without the needed procedures. And if you need these procedures, such as a root canal, you aren’t just left to worry about how you’ll pay for it but you’re likely also in pain.
Your mouth and smile are your introduction to the world around you. And it can be important to have a smile of which you can be proud. Without attractive teeth, you might be less inclined to take part in social activities. So how can you avoid going without the dental work you need—or putting it on a high interest credit card? Dental insurance can help save you money in the long run.
How Dental Insurance Works
Before you can decide if dental insurance is right for you, you first have to be well versed in how it works.
Many dental plans have a network of their approved providers and dentists that you can visit. If you have certain types of plans, such as a PPO or HMO, you save significant money by using a dentist included in the approved list.
With many plans, especially PPO’s, you will likely have an annual deductible. This amount is typically quite low, around $50 or $100 and you must pay it before your plan kicks in to cover other charges. After you pay that deductible, your plan will pay a percentage of the dental care you need.
The most common coverage percentage runs on a 100-80-50 plan. With this type of plan, 100% of your preventative care, such as cleanings is covered 100% while common procedures such as fillings are covered 80%. And then major work, such as crowns, bridges, or extractions are covered 50%.
Most plans have an annual maximum benefit. So, once you’ve reached that limit, your insurance will not cover any future work needed.
Benefits of Dental Insurance
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2011-2014, there were a total of 18.6% of children aged 5-19 who had untreated dental caries. For adults aged 20-44, that number is 31.6%. Untreated dental caries often lead to more extensive procedures such as root canals. The average price for a root canal on a front tooth is $762. On a bicuspid, the average charge is $879 and on a molar it is $1,111. This is a procedure that can often be avoided with routine cleanings and care.
Oral health is even worse for older Americans. This is due, at least in part, to the fact that many no longer have dental insurance. For most, benefits are lost at retirement. Because the federal Medicare program does not cover dental procedures, many older Americans go without dental insurance.
According to the CDC, a total of 1 in 5 adults aged 65 and older have untreated tooth decay while nearly 2 in 3 have gum disease. Older adults also run a higher risk of tooth loss, chronic disease and oral cancer. This is due in part to age but also due in large part to the fact that many older people take prescriptions that directly impact their oral health.
Without dental insurance, many of these older Americans completely forego dental care since they do not have any coverage to assist with the cost.
By choosing to invest in dental insurance, you’re better equipped to pay for necessary procedures. If you are covered 100% for preventative care, such as is the case with most insurance products, you may catch issues long before they become major. This means saving money in the long run.
With this in mind, you can get the regular checkups and cleanings provided by dental insurance and avoid many major dental problems down the road.
Choosing the Right Dental Insurance Coverage
There are many options available when it comes to dental insurance companies and they are not all created equal. Manulife Flexcare is an option marked by its flexibility. Along with flexibility, there are a few other tricks and features you can think about when choosing the right dental coverage for your particular needs:
1. If Looking for Family Coverage, Think of the Needs of Everyone in Your Family
The needs of a child will be vastly different than that of an older adult. Children often need orthodontic care, for example. Older Americans, as referenced above, might need extractions or have issues with gum disease.
2. Look for Availability Near You
Insurance companies don’t offer the same insurance plans or coverage everywhere. You should do some research on what coverage is available near you, and then compare those specific coverage plans against the needs of you or your family.
3. Evaluate the Availability of Dentists
Check the in-network coverage of dentists in your area. You want to have several options available to you. And if you already have an existing dentist you like, you want to make sure he or she is covered under any plans you might consider.
4. Check the Coverage
You want to check exactly what is covered by the plans you are considering and at what percentage. If you know you have pretty good overall oral health, it may not be quite as important to you that crowns or root canals are covered. However, if you have had dental issues in the past, maybe you want to find a plan that covers the highest percentage of those exact procedures.
Dental coverage can ultimately save you from having to come up with extra large sums of money in a pinch if you find out you need major dental work done. With the cost of dental procedures, being so high, there can be great anxiety when you learn that you need a root canal or crown. With dental insurance coverage, some of that anxiety and pressure can be relieved.