For the average individual, a good dental plan that won’t break the bank can be hard to come by.
The unfortunate fact is that specialized services such as dental care don’t come cheap, and most of us have little choice but to save up for the proverbial rainy day. But that’s not to say it’s not worth looking—in fact, if you know where to look and have the patience for it, you can probably find a dental plan that fits both your needs and budget.
The first thing you want to look for is value; that is, how much the plan is worth. Many dental plans will cover you up to a given limit. For example, if your coverage is worth $1000 per year, that means you can get up to $1000 worth of treatments until you renew. Most insurers will also impose limits on what services they will pay for, such as tooth extractions, fillings, and routine cleaning. Each of these may have its own dollar limit. Your choice should depend on the treatment you expect to need within the coverage period. If you have a fairly good dental record, you may want to get more coverage for checkups and accidents than treatments for preexisting conditions. Likewise, if you’re prone to infections or have had several treatments in the past, treatments should be a bigger priority.
Another important consideration is the dentist network. Most insurance companies allow you to choose from a list of dentists; choosing from outside this network can mean more out-of-pocket money or even no coverage at all. Look at a potential insurer’s network and check out the practitioners that are most accessible. It’s not so much about the number of options as it is about each dentist’s ability. You’ll want at least a couple of dentists you can easily reach and who have a good track record.
Finally, you should take the insurer’s service itself into account. How easy are they to get in touch with? Do they respond to claims in a reasonable time? Are their provisions clear? It’s practically a given that being insured means more paperwork every time you need medical care. This is true with both small and big companies, so reputation and size aren’t the only things to look at. But many companies do make an effort to provide good service and it’s usually worth paying a little extra to make sure you get treated and reimbursed right away.