What about dental?

Once we’ve gotten the Medicare health and drug coverage in place, that is the most common question we get. With rare exceptions, Medicare does not cover dental care. Dental health, however, is an important part of one’s overall health and shouldn’t be neglected.

But how do you pay for it?

Many people self-pay for dental care, which can be expensive. There are two kinds of plans available to help you with covering the cost of dental care.One option is dental insurance, the other dental discount plans. Here is a quick overview of how these options vary:

Dental Insurance

Dental insurance covers three levels of care: preventive, basic, and major. Preventive care, like exams and cleanings, are often covered day one at 100%. Basic and major care, however, are usually subject to waiting periods or have graduated benefits that start small and get better the longer you’re paying for the plan. Insurance carriers do this to guard against people who might enroll when they have a dental emergency, then cancel the insurance once they get the dental work done.

Dental insurance plans almost always have dentist networks. Dentists not in the network are either not covered at all, or a higher out-of-pocket cost to you.

Dental insurance plans vary in price and benefits, but you can expect to pay $40+ per month for a plan with a $2,000-2,500 max annual benefit.

You may check out a dental plan we like. Its $2,500 annual benefit is higher than most dental plans, and the benefits for basic and major services increase the first of the year, not after 12 months like many plans, so if you enroll late in the year you get the increase in benefits quickly.

Dental Discount Plans

Dental discount plans are an often overlooked but good alternative to traditional dental insurance.
Discount plans have no annual maximum benefit and no waiting periods like dental insurance plans do. When a dentist contracts with a dental discount plan the practice agrees to a negotiated contract rate for services, which can be 20-60% less than their usual and customary rate.

Several years ago Forbes magazine published an article, Dental Discount Plans Beat Insurance. It makes a strong case that dental discount plans are better than traditional dental insurance. This link will take you to a printable copy of that article: Forbes on Dental Plans