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.
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.
After you are approved and sign up for a plan, you can often use it within 24 hours, but it can sometimes take up to 72 hours for it to go into effect. Some plans offer additional savings on things like prescriptions, hearing care, and vision care. Some plans also include discounts on things like cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics. These plans charge an affordable membership fee that can start as low as $10 per month. In order to get set up, you do have to pay a fee of around $15, but this cost is sometimes offset by giving you a free month on your plan.
One of the biggest downsides of paying for your own plan is that your premiums might not be pre-tax as they would be if you were paying for a plan that your employer and your contribution towards the plan was being taken off your paycheck. But, if you own your own business, you can potentially write off those expenses as a business cost and therefore get the same savings.
If you're struggling to find an affordable dental insurance, your state might offer some programs that could help you. Many states have assistance programs for those who are unable to pay for dental care themselves. To find out whether your state has a program, visit the National Association of Dental and Cranialfacial Research, as well as the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors. Their websites have links and information about how to get low-cost dental care in your state.
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).
If you are changing insurance and want to continue with your current dentist, you can visit the websites of insurance companies you are thinking about signing up with and search to see if your dentist accepts the new type of insurance. However, sometimes these search results aren't updated or only show offices seeking new patients, so you'll want to verify by calling your dental office.
Attention: This website is operated by HealthMarkets Insurance Agency and is not the Health Insurance Marketplace website. In offering this website, HealthMarkets Insurance Agency is required to comply with all applicable federal laws, including the standards established under 45 CFR 155.220(c) and (d) and standards established under 45 CFR 155.260 to protect the privacy and security of personally identifiable information. This website may not display all data on Qualified Health Plans being offered in your state through the Health Insurance Marketplace website. To see all available data on Qualified Health Plan options in your state, go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website at HealthCare.gov.
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.
If you are a senior or are approaching retirement, you may be surprised to find out that Medicare does not provide coverage for routine dental care. Medicare mainly covers medical treatments, but does not provide any assistance for routine dental care such as bi-annual exams, cleanings, or even major services like bridges or dentures. This leaves it to seniors to search for a dental plan that can meet their coverage needs.
The next thing that you need to look at is the yearly enrollment fee that you will be charged. This fee can vary widely between insurers. For example, Humana only charges an enrollment fee when you first enroll and not in any year afterwards. Other insurers will charge you an enrollment fee every year. These fees are generally under $50 per year, so if you find an insurer that is charging you more make sure that it’s worth it to you because you’re saving on the plan elsewhere.
Coverage begins at enrollment; there’s no waiting period. All applicants are accepted, even if you have previous dental work or ongoing issues, you’re guaranteed acceptance in the plan. You can even bundle a vision plan with it, for another $14 per month. All rates are guaranteed not to change for at least 12 months, but you can cancel any time you like.
In general the dental insurance companies at the top of our review list provide a range of plan options to numerous areas of the country. We also considered average yearly preventive care costs across numerous zip codes and compared that number to possible yearly premium costs. This helps predict whether the premium costs would, on average, be less than the cost of preventive care paid out of pocket. Keep in mind that co-pays and other small fees might also determine whether you will break even by paying for dental insurance, but our numbers can give you a general idea of what you can expect. It was not surprising to learn that those who charge a higher premium may cover more and those with a lower premium might cover less. This means that if you pay more monthly you might receive more complete coverage, and if you pay less per month you might be expected to pay a bit more during the time of treatment. So you'll need to decide whether you want to pay more per month or make up a bit of the difference when you visit your dentist.

MedicareWire.com is an independent research, technology and publishing organization. We are not affiliated with Medicare, Medicare plans, insurance carriers, or healthcare providers, nor are we compensated for Medicare plan enrollments. We are affiliate with the dental savings plans mentioned on this page and may receive compensation if you join a plan. For more information, see our disclosure page.
MedicareWire.com is an independent research, technology and publishing organization. We are not affiliated with Medicare, Medicare plans, insurance carriers, or healthcare providers, nor are we compensated for Medicare plan enrollments. We are affiliate with the dental savings plans mentioned on this page and may receive compensation if you join a plan. For more information, see our disclosure page.
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.
Gum Disease. Your gum disease risk increases as you get older. The New York Times notes that in a study of people over 70 years old, 86% had at least moderate gum disease and over a quarter experienced tooth loss. It’s important to properly take care of your teeth, have a healthy diet, reduce stress, and refrain from smoking to reduce your risk of developing gum disease. Systemic diseases and certain medications can also affect the health of your gums.
The longer you stay with Spirit Dental, more each plan pays out and the higher your savings. For example, with one plan’s basic dental procedures are covered at 65 percent the first year, 80 percent the second year and 90 percent the third year. Major procedures on that plan follow the same timeline at 25 to 65 percent coverage. All plans cover preventative care at 100 percent. You can bundle EyeMed vision insurance for $7 per month with each plan.

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.

Most dental insurance companies have a waiting period after your application is accepted. This practice is so the customer doesn’t wait until they have accumulated the need for several procedures to buy and use dental insurance to cover the costs. Most plans have a waiting period for some procedures but not others, like a regular checkup. One of our best dental insurance companies has no waiting period for just about any procedure.
Seniors have special dental needs that come with getting older such as root decay, gum disease, tooth loss and more. Even non-dental conditions common to seniors, such as arthritis, can affect dental health. For those coming off of an employee group health plan upon after retiring, coverage may not be extended after you leave your job, leaving you to find your own dental coverage. Most plans have a waiting period for coverage, so this can leave you without coverage for a period of time.

If you don’t floss or brush every day, you will likely run into dental problems that everyone is susceptible to, including cavities, gum disease, tooth decay, and enamel erosion. However, there are some dental issues seniors are more at risk for than any other group of people. Seniors can develop these problems even if they properly take care of their teeth.
Estimating your possible dental costs may help you decide whether dental insurance would be financially beneficial. Dental insurance companies will show you a quote online so you can easily see what your premiums might be. You may want to compare your estimated yearly premiums to the cost of a year of procedures you want to have done. You can estimate how much your dental expenses might be either by talking with your dentist, or by researching costs online. You can use the estimates to help you decide whether you should pay out of pocket or plan your dental expenses based on your insurance coverage. Two resources for looking up procedure costs are The Fair Health Consumer Organization and the Guardian Insurance website. Estimated costs are sorted by zip code and will show a low and high rate so you can see a range of what a procedure may cost in your area.
A carrier recently told us that many seniors expect to carry over their dental coverage from their employer. Yet, that rarely happens. What does happen is that about 90% of seniors on Medicare don’t have proper dental coverage (American Dental Association). After filling out the Medicare paperwork, most seniors put dental insurance on the back burner.  (And vision and hearing, too…we’ll get to those later.) And, why not? Your teeth are not hurting yet and they feel pretty good.
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.
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