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Does My Health Insurance Cover Dental Work?

As a follow up to my health insurance post last week, here’s a look at a some issues surrounding one big health topic – taking care of your teeth.

alligator with mouth openFor millions of citizens, public or private health insurance provides reliable access to core health services, providing resources for a range of facilities, treatments and other medical care. Holding insurance coverage can provide significant peace of mind in most scenarios, but there are a few limitations to standard policies that should be considered when determining the appropriate level of coverage for your lifestyle.

Dental: A Common Exclusion

Standard health insurance policies only provide for what insurers define as necessary treatments (or benefits), which do not include dentistry for individuals aged 18 and older, chiefly because of the expense typically involved with dental care.

This exclusion causes many adults to go without the dental treatment they need. Fortunately private dental insurance is readily available to help citizens address this gap in their healthcare network.

Dedicated Dental Insurance

A common way for individuals to obtain insurance to cover the cost of dental services is by purchasing it as a standalone product from an insurance provider. This coverage can offset the cost of dental visits, required work and equipment use, which can easily run into the thousands with a relatively minor issue such as an advanced cavity.

Holding dental insurance does not interfere with public medical insurance, so you will still have access to all the standard resources as well as dentistry if needed.

Another advantage of an a la carte dental policy is the ability to cancel coverage at any time, allowing policyholders to more effectively manage their healthcare resources based on their circumstances.

Most insurance providers also offer insurance bundles that combine an existing private health plan with dental coverage for a discounted price. With bundled health and dental insurance, policyholders pay a monthly combined premium for both services and get a more comprehensive network of care in exchange.

These policies can even offer benefits related to dentistry such as special pricing on cleaning and whitening services or lowered rates for outstanding dental health. So a bundled insurance plan can be a cost-effective way to insure against the cost of the vast majority of medical treatments, including dentistry.

Costs associated with dentistry can not only be higher than with many other forms of routine medicine, but represent the most commonly excluded type of specialist care with standard insurance policies. For this reason, individuals likely to need dental work or concerned with the high cost of care in this area would do well to consider taking out a dental insurance policy and smile about their foresight later.

Editor’s Comment: This is a great question to ask when it comes to your health insurance policy. With four growing kids in our house I’m well aware of their dental needs and the costs associated with it. I’d say especially for families with children, dental policies are a piece of the puzzle that should be considered in the health budget.

Questions: Do you have dental coverage? Did it come standard with your health insurance plan or did you purchase an a la carte? Do you think it’s a needed expenditure? 

Image at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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  1. David Anderson says

    This article has some great points.

  2. My health insurance includes dental coverage. But the health insurance with my last employer was all separate. We had health, dental, and vision insurance cards. I think they did it that way so they could save costs over bundling with the main health insurance company.

  3. bryan flake says

    I have Medicaid and it is hard to find a provider for dental needs. It is interesting to see that this is not just a common problem with Medicaid, but elsewhere in the health insurance world. Is it common that an insurer will bundle dental insurance separately at a different price as you pointed out?

  4. James Moretti says

    Dental plans, either premium or discount should be from reputable dental insurance carriers. I would never trust any insurance carrier that I never heard about.

  5. Jim Moretti says

    Dental issues are always put on the back burner because of cost and need. There are affordable plans to choose from including many discount plans that won’t break the bank. Just like anything else, you have to research your choices.

    A discount plan offers a discount on services conducted by a participating provider. A true comprehensive dental plan would be REAL dental insurance and would either pay claims based on a percentage or a pay based on a schedule of fees.

  6. Dental services should be made a basic part of health insurance policies. After all, our teeth are our treasure. In any case, the next best thing is to get an independent dental policy that allow you to just walk in and get the services you need, depending on the coverage, of course. Even private clinics offer packages that include unlimited services for months to a year. These are worth checking out.

  7. Dental Insurance can be tricky to handle. A-la-cart plans are a great way to achieve this but can be hard to decipher which one is right for you. Make sure you get the right kind of coverage for your needs.

    • It is tough especially if you are uncertain what your needs are or will be. Gotta figure though families with kids are going to have dental issues at some point.

  8. Great minds think alike. I just posted today about dental insurance as well. Our teeth are very important and ignoring them could cost us a lot of money… it did for me. I have a dental plan from work and things happened where I just didn’t go to the dentist for two years and paid the price for it.

    With or without dental insurance, people should really go to their cleanings every six months to avoid bigger headaches later on.

    • “…to avoid bigger headaches later on.” I agree Aldo (although admittedly I haven’t been to a dentist in some time…oops). The cost of the more involved procedures later on could be huge.

  9. From our experience dental insurance is an even bigger boondoggle than health insurance is. We’ve looked at a fair number of plans and very few of them were actually worth it as we’d be spending more to have the coverage than it would cost us to pay out of pocket for two cleanings a year for everyone and the discounts for major work weren’t really that good either.

    I’d say that if you don’t have a dentist you really like going to or if you have significant dental issues to look at possibly going uninsured. We have a really good dentist and they give us a nice discount for paying in full for our services when we go in – part of which why they do that for us is even they’ve told us that independent dental insurance really isn’t that good. Short story long, this is one of the few benefits I miss from my day job. 🙂

    • We currently don’t have dental insurance. We signed up for a dental discount plan through a company at our dentist that provides that service. It’s not insurance…just provides discounts on treatments for a yearly fee. We are doing that for a year to see how it goes.

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