Dental insurance, sometimes known as a dental plan, is typically a type of health insurance intended to cover a specific portion of your dental expenses. The policy will pay the dentist or dental facility for a pre-determined percentage of your dental bills and may cover certain elective procedures such as certain types of dental braces. There are many different types of plans available, including those that are sponsored by state and federal health plans, individual and family dental insurance plans, managed care plans, and discount dental plans. Some plans offer major medical coverage in addition to dental coverage, as well.
Most dental insurance plans have a waiting period in which you must seek treatment before you can be added to the plan. The waiting period generally varies, but some policies can take up to a year to get coverage. Some plans have no waiting period; however, there may be a maximum waiting period for certain dental procedures. Your treatment may be covered under your current dental plan while you wait to join a new dental plan.
When shopping for dental insurance, it’s important to understand the difference between an annual maximum and a lifetime maximum. An annual maximum covers your teeth for one year. If your teeth should begin to rot and decay, your annual maximum coverage will typically last for three years. A lifetime maximum, on the other hand, covers your teeth throughout your entire life.
Different dental plans have different coverage limits. Some dental plans offer a coverage limit of a certain percentage over a set period of time, while other dental plans offer a full coverage limit for the year. Usually, dental insurance plans require that you wait a minimum of six months from the date of last dental exam until you can enroll in a new plan. You cannot enroll in a new plan during the waiting period.
There are three types of dental health maintenance organization plans available. Direct reimbursement plans, or DRP, require that the insurance company reimburse you for your dental services. Some dental health maintenance organization plans, or Dental discount plans, reimburse you only for a percentage of your dental service costs. Your insurance company likely won’t cover all of the costs, but they may pay for some of them. Some dental discount plans offer dental providers as participating dentists. If your current dentist is not a participating dentist, then you may need to find a new dentist to continue coverage.
Other types of dental plans include a discount dental plan that allows you to get a discount at the dentist’s office for covered services; a premier plan that allow you to choose a specific dentist and a specific dental procedure; and a discount dental health maintenance organization plan that reimburse you only for the actual cost of dental services. These plans typically don’t cover cosmetic procedures or preventive care visits such as cleanings. Each type of plan has different limits, reimbursement requirements, and benefits and deductions.