Before deciding to purchase dental insurance, talk with your dentist regarding the extent of your treatment plan. This way you can decide if you would be better off with or without dental insurance. A very important factor to remember regarding any dental insurance plan is that dental insurance is not at all similar to medical insurance. The majority of dental insurance plans are designed with the purpose of only covering the basic dental care around $1,000 to $1,500 (about the same amount that they covered 30 years ago) per year and is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage like that of medical insurance.
Medicare, the largest health insurance provider for adults 65 and older, does NOT provide coverage for routine dental care. Medicare only pays when dental care and medical needs intersect. Medigap, a private insurance plan that supplements Medicare coverage, doesn’t offer dental coverage, but some private Medicare Advantage managed care plans do offer dental benefits.
In the United States, Participating Provider Network or PPO, also referred to as Preferred Provider Organization, is an organization governed by medical doctors, hospitals, other health centers, and medical care providers. This organization has an agreement with an insurer or the third party administrator to provide health insurance to the people associated with their client at reduced or low rates. Participating Provider Network plan may work similar to a DHMO while using an In-Network facility. However, a PPO allows Out-of-Network or Non-Participating Providers to be used for service. Any difference of fees will become the financial responsibility of the patient, unless otherwise specified.
A PPO, or preferred provider organization, is the most common type of dental insurance. This plan has arranged reduced rates with dentists. These dentists are called in-network because they will work with the insurance company. You can go out of network if you have a PPO plan, but you will not get the benefit of the reduced rates. It’s best to check to see if your preferred dentist is in-network before you buy insurance.
Generally dental offices have a fee schedule, or a list of prices for the dental services or procedures they offer. Dental insurance companies have similar fee schedules which is generally based on Usual and Customary dental services, an average of fees in an area. The fee schedule is commonly used as the transactional instrument between the insurance company, dental office and/or dentist, and the consumer.
2Delta Dental PPO is underwritten by Delta Dental Insurance Company in AL, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, NV and UT and by not-for-profit dental service companies in these states: CA – Delta Dental of California; PA, MD – Delta Dental of Pennsylvania; NY – Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; DE – Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc.; WV – Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. In Texas, Delta Dental Insurance Company provides a Dental Provider Organization (DPO) plan.
Fee-for-Service plans: Like DPPO plans, dental Fee-for-Service plans require you to pay a percentage of the cost of treatment. Your insurance company will pay for the rest. Fee-for-Service plans typically offer the most freedom when it comes to choosing your dentist or dental practice. Fee-for-Service plans may also be more costly, since dentists are not typically reimbursed at the same rate as DPPO dentists.
Because dental is not included in Original Medicare (unless medically necessary) or Medigap supplement plans, seniors must look elsewhere for dental coverage. So, dental insurance for seniors on Medicare can seem like a chore. But getting dental insurance when you’re using Medicare isn’t difficult, limited, or expensive. In fact, there are two different paths to take in order to find inexpensive coverage options.
Although discount plans are also sold by private companies, they are not insurance plans. There are no copays, coinsurance, or deductible amounts. That also means that there are no pre-negotiated rates or free yearly checkups and cleanings. A participating dentist simply agrees to offer discounts (often a percentage off from the total price) for certain medical services. Then, seniors who choose discount plans will pay their dentist directly for the cost of services (after the discount).
1DeltaCare USA is underwritten in these states by these entities: AL — Alpha Dental of Alabama, Inc.; AZ — Alpha Dental of Arizona, Inc.; CA — Delta Dental of California; AR, CO, IA, MA, ME, MI, MN, NC, ND, NE, NH, OK, OR, RI, SC, SD, VT, WA, WI, WY — Dentegra Insurance Company; AK, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, KS, LA, MS, MT, TN, WV — Delta Dental Insurance Company; HI, ID, IL, IN, KY, MD, MO, NJ, OH, TX — Alpha Dental Programs, Inc.; NV — Alpha Dental of Nevada, Inc.; UT — Alpha Dental of Utah, Inc.; NM — Alpha Dental of New Mexico, Inc.; NY — Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; PA — Delta Dental of Pennsylvania; VA – Delta Dental of Virginia. Delta Dental Insurance Company acts as the DeltaCare USA administrator in all these states. These companies are financially responsible for their own products. The plan is a dental HMO in CA and TX.
Most full coverage dental insurance plans will cover two preventive maintenance visits per year without requiring a deductible payment. Most require a $50 deductible per person, per year to help cover costs beyond your preventive exams. If you need work done, most plans will cover a part of the costs. We looked at root canals specifically and found that the majority of dental plans will cover about half the cost, which may not seem like a lot, but paying half is better than paying upfront for an $800 root canal. However, keep in mind that most insurance policies, depending on your plan, top out at about $1000 to $1500 per year. Using conservative estimates that might be one or two root canals. If you need extensive work done you might have to pay the remaining amount out of pocket.
Savings plans are NOT insurance and the savings will vary by provider, plan and zip code. These plans are not considered to be qualified health plans under the Affordable Care Act. Please consult with the respective plan detail page for additional plan terms. The discounts are available through participating healthcare providers only. To check that your provider participates, visit our website or call us. Since there is no paperwork or reimbursement, you must pay for the service at the time it's provided. You will receive the discount off the provider's usual and customary fees when you pay. We encourage you to check with your participating provider prior to beginning treatment. Note-not all plans and offers available in all markets. Special promotions including, but not limited to, additional months free are not available to California residents.
We hoped you learned more about dental insurance for seniors. You have many affordable options. Need assistance or want to learn more? Feel free to contact us or use the form below. We would be happy to help you find an affordable insurance plan for you. Remember, we work in your best interests only. This is the only way we know how to work with our clients. If there is a better plan available that we can’t offer you, we would be happy to help you obtain or recommend that plan to you.
Carrington is a provider of discount programs for health and wellness services. It was started in 1979 and is based in Frisco, Texas. Carrington does not provide dental insurance, but rather dental plans where you can get discounts on affordable dental care by becoming a member. You have to pay monthly or annual premiums for your discount plan, but it can be as cheap as $8.95 per month or $89 per year.
Dental providers contract with dental savings plans to provide the same quality dental work at reduced prices. The concept is a familiar one – it’s the same model used by discount clubs like Costco and Sam’s. Dentists realize that for many seniors, insurance is not the best option and, in many cases, doesn’t provide all of the coverage they really need. You benefit by gaining access to discounts of up to 60% on routine and major oral healthcare.
This is more affordable than dental insurance and there are over 5,400 dentists currently in the Carrington network. The Carrington plan provides a discount that’s usually over 50% on preventative and routine procedures with smaller discounts on other types of procedures. The price for treatment will vary from state to state and affect the percentage of your discount, but some examples of discounts include 51% off a routine check up, 51% off the extraction of a tooth, 50% off a dental cleaning, and just 20% off adolescent braces.
One example of a plan that is offered through eHealth is the Dominion Dental Services PPO Discount plan which has no deductible. They provide 100% coverage on most preventative and diagnostic procedures and 45% to 60% coverage on all other procedures including children’s orthodontics. They have no maximum annual benefit and they have no waiting period for things like cleaning, extractions, x-rays, and oral surgery but they have waiting periods but you have to use a dentist within their network.
Aetna’s dental discount network includes over 161,000 dentists, and Careington says over 100,000 dentists participate in their plan. We searched for providers from a less populated location in the U.S. and found no dentists from the Aetna plan while the Careington plan had four dentists, although the offices were located 100 miles from the zip we used. If there are no providers available in a reasonable distance from your home, you can nominate dentists, and Careington will contact them to request participation. Dental providers usually join the network within 60-90 days.
Preventive care may seem optional if you have healthy teeth and good oral hygiene, but it saves money in the long run. I went without dental insurance for three years in my twenties, and did what most of my peers did in that situation – simply didn’t visit the dentist. Then I enrolled in a graduate program which required students to have medical and dental coverage. At my first dental visit, I had numerous cavities. Getting them all filled required nine or ten appointments in the nine months of my academic year.
If you go to an out-of-network dentist, then the plan usually pays based on the UCR fee. For example, if the dentist charges $250 for the filling, but the UCR in your area is $150, you could end up paying more. In this case, $130 ($250 – $150 X (.80)). This also introduces the concept of balanced billing, which means paying the dentist the cost difference between their rate ($250 in this case) and the cost-sharing rate ($120).
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