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Buying health insurance is a personal decision, and the best plan for one person might not be the best plan for another. That’s why we help you understand the basics of health insurance before you apply.

Dental 

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healthinsurance.com dental insurance 101, female patient in a dental chair talking to her dentist
A good dental plan can not only save your smile - it can save your wallet too. Many major dental procedures can cost thousands. Even routine preventive cleanings can be more than $100 at a time. Add X-rays or fluoride treatment to the tab, and a routine dental visit can quickly cost hundreds of dollars. Cue dental insurance. Like health insurance, dental insurance provides you with benefits that help pay for dental costs. And choosing the right dental plan helps to curb expensive health care costs, so your pearly whites stay sparkling. Before you shop around for an affordable plan, let’s cover some common questions so you know the basics. How does dental insurance work? Dental insurance can pay for things like annual cleanings, minor oral health fixes, or big-dollar dental claims for crowns and bridges. In general, dental coverage is broken out by preventive, basic and major services: Preventive dental care includes diagnostic and preventive services like regular oral exams, teeth cleaning, and x-rays. It may also include fluoride treatments and sealants (plastic tooth covering to prevent decay). In many cases, dental plans include 100% of the cost of preventive care. Basic dental care includes office visits, extractions, fillings, periodontal treatment (gum disease), and root canals. Your insurance company might pay anywhere from 60 to 80% of the cost for these services, with you covering the rest of the cost. But if you're paying a lower percentage of the costs, you may have a high-dollar copay. Major dental care covers crowns, bridges, dentures, and inlays. Inlays are something between a filling and a crown: Your tooth might have extensive decay and need a more substantial filling, but it may not be in bad enough shape to require a crown. Meanwhile, crowns completely cover the tooth. Some dental insurance plans include root canals under "major" dental care, while others categorize them as "basic." The cost of major dental care is higher, and most insurance plans cover about 50% of the fee. Dental insurance coverage can vary, so it’s a good idea to compare different plans to choose what's right for you. What do dental insurance plans offer? Dental plans typically cover some level (if not all) of cleanings, X-rays, and a percentage of basic services like fillings and major services like root canals. Many dental insurance plans also offer extra non-insurance wellness benefits to increase the value of the plan. Who is dental insurance good for? The choice to get dental insurance is ultimately up to you and your budget. But even if your mouth is healthy, dental insurance that covers preventive care at 100% can be valuable to have, especially when unexpected issues arise like filling a cavity or fixing a chipped tooth. Dental insurance may be right for you if you: Have missed the annual open enrollment period through your employer Are on Medicare and don’t have a dental plan. Are in-between jobs or have been laid off. Are a part-time or temporary worker and your employer does not offer dental benefits. Are a student, a recent graduate, or have aged out of your parent’s dental plan. Do not have a dental benefit through your employer How much is dental insurance? The cost to have dental insurance varies based on your coverage, where you live, and other factors such as: Is it an individual or family policy? Is the dental insurance provided through an employer? What are the annual maximums? What are the annual deductible and the copays? Affordable dental insurance plans might pay for preventive care but not pay as high of a percentage for major services. If you need thousands of dollars of work done for crowns or a bridge, a higher-cost dental plan might pay for itself. Overall, monthly premiums range between $39 per month for an individual to $139 per month for a family (for the most part). FAIR Health has a handy calculator for dental costs, which you can use to estimate the cost of specific dental services. How much does the dentist cost if I don't have insurance? Dental services can get pretty pricey if you don't have insurance: A single filling can cost up to $300 on average. A standard dental cleaning can cost up to $200. An X-ray can range from $20 to $250. A dental crown can range from $500 to $1,500. Can I get dental insurance without a job? Yes. You don’t need a job to have dental insurance. As an example, dental insurance for college students is one way someone without traditional employee benefits can keep their oral hygiene in check. Not all employers offer dental insurance. But you can easily buy a dental insurance plan for yourself if you’re a freelancer or part of the gig economy. Anyone can shop around and sign up for dental insurance plans online - typically within minutes. Can you get dental insurance anytime? Yes. There is no open enrollment period like there is for health insurance coverage. You can buy at any time and coverage typically starts within days of submitting your application. Note: There may be a waiting period for major services, so it’s smart to review any dental plan you’re interested in to confirm the waiting and coverage periods. Can I cancel dental insurance anytime? Absolutely. Dental insurance premiums are paid on a monthly basis, so you can cancel at any time. That means you can purchase dental coverage for a set period of time and then cancel it with no penalty. You can also apply for dental insurance at any time of the year, making this type of insurance one of the most flexible coverages on the market. How do I buy a dental insurance plan? The good news is you don’t have to go too far: You can easily compare dental plans right here. And it takes minutes out of your day. Just submit your ZIP code, birthday and gender to get a variety of dental plans in your area.
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healthinsurance.com dental insurance 101, female patient in a dental chair talking to her dentist
healthinsurance.com dental emergency without insurance, woman with mouth pain holding an ice cream treat
After a long Saturday of errands and chores, you're excited to have a relaxing night curled up on the couch with your spouse. And now that the kids are in bed, it's time to find a new show to binge watch. You've decided on a show - and naturally, you reach for that bag of popcorn. But before you know it: You're grimacing in pain after your first few bites. You fear that you've cracked a tooth and might need a dentist. But wait: It's a Saturday night. These scenarios happen all too often. Just like medical emergencies, dental emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere, and can become very costly if you don't have dental insurance. But first: What, exactly, constitutes a dental emergency? Defining a dental emergency It's easy to tell the difference between a slightly sprained ankle and a severely broken bone: One needs some ice and support, while the other needs a trip to the ER and potential surgery. But how do you know if your teeth simply need some bonding or if you should be calling an emergency dentist? Colgate defines a dental emergency as mouth trauma that can result in gum lacerations and bleeding, a fractured or dislodged tooth, or the need for immediate medical attention. Pain is the first sign to look for in a dental emergency. Tooth or gum injuries can result in damaged nerves and blood vessels, an infection can follow shortly after. Untreated infections can spread to the head and neck resulting in serious, sometimes life-threatening, problems. When dental emergencies happen, you need to be familiar with the types and severity of common emergencies. Types of dental problems Dental emergencies come in different forms with varying degrees of seriousness. Here's a summary of six common dental emergencies - each defined by AAFP - as well as their signs, symptoms, and treatments. Abscess: A localized bacterial infection of a tooth. Pain and swelling are telltale signs of an abscess. Treatment options include a root canal or tooth extraction. Cellulitis: Occurs when a bacterial infection spreads to a tooth’s surrounding soft tissues. The affected area will be swollen and painful. Left untreated, the infection can spread to the head, neck, and lymph nodes. The patient will probably need a round of antibiotics and a root canal or tooth extraction. Pericoronitis: Occurs when the soft tissues surrounding the crown of a partially erupted tooth becomes inflamed. This typically occurs with wisdom teeth. Food debris and bacterial plaque can become trapped under the gum flap of the tooth, causing inflammation. Besides the swollen gum flap, other symptoms include pain, tenderness, and a bad taste in your mouth caused by pus oozing from beneath the gum flap. Hot, salty mouthwash paired with antibiotics might help alleviate this problem. Tooth fracture: More commonly referred to as a broken tooth, these types of fractures are solely limited to the enamel and a small amount of dentin, while other fractures will extend to the crown, root, or both. Fractures with "exposed pulp" are quite painful and should be treated quickly. Tooth luxation: Luxations mean the tooth has become dislodged from the ligaments and tissues that hold it in place. A dentist should diagnose the severity of the luxation while determining the course of treatment, which can involve a root canal in some cases. Tooth avulsion: Arguably the most serious dental emergency, a tooth avulsion is the loss of a tooth. Be careful not to touch or attempt to clean the tooth’s root. Instead, seek immediate dental care for a tooth avulsion. Costs of dental emergencies The costs can certainly make you reach deep into your wallet, especially if you don’t have dental insurance. As examples: Root canal costs depend on which tooth the procedure is being performed on: A front tooth will cost between $700 and $900, while a bicuspid can range between $800 and $950. Molars will run from $1,000 to $1,200. Dental crown costs depend on the material the crown is made of: Porcelain crowns cost between $1,200 and $1,500, while metal crowns cost between $1,200 and $1,400. Porcelain fused to metal crowns run slightly less, costing between $1,000 and $1,150. Affordable and practical payment option tips If you don't have dental insurance, here are five options for funding dental emergencies: 1. Dental savings plan A dental savings plan is not dental insurance, but can come in handy in emergency situations. Once you sign up for the plan, you gain access to a pool of participating dentists in your area. Plan members pay an annual fee that typically falls in the $100 to $200 range, and you can receive services typically within a few days of signing up. Each participating dentist offers their services at discounted rates that range from 10% to 60%. The rates are determined by a fee schedule that details the cost associated with a specific procedure. 2. Dental payment plans Financing is another option if you don’t have the immediate funds to pay for a dental emergency. Some dentists offer financing plans to their uninsured patients who might need expensive procedures. The plans tend to be no-fee financing, which simply means that you don’t pay interest. Dental payment plans allow patients to afford cosmetic procedures or those stemming from a pre-existing condition. 3. Government assistance Government resources such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) may be available to those who qualify. Medicare dental coverage doesn’t typically cover dental procedures, so it's wise to shop around for Medicare Advantage and supplemental plans. Medicaid provides medical benefits, including some dental benefits, to those who qualify. People age 21 and over are eligible for emergency dental services only, while those under age 21 qualify for more extensive dental coverage. The CHIP program offers medical coverage and some dental services to children up to age 19 who don’t have insurance. The specific dental services offered vary per state. 4. Emergency room visits Visiting a hospital emergency room is a temporary option for an extreme dental emergency. The ER doctors probably won’t be able to fix the dental issue, but they'll be able to treat secondary symptoms like pain or bleeding. This option will only hold you over until you can see an emergency dentist. The cost for treating those medical issues should be picked up by your health insurance though. 5. Options for lesser emergencies If your dental emergency doesn’t require immediate attention, you can try options like seeking out local dental schools, dental charities, and free dental clinics. These options may provide some dental services at a low cost or for free in some cases. Injury and accident prevention While you can’t prevent all accidents from happening, you can take some precautions to limit your risk. Mouth Healthy has three basic tips to keep your teeth intact: Wear a mouthguard when playing a sport. It only takes seconds to pop a mouthguard in, which will protect your teeth and tongue from serious injuries. Watch what you chew. Despite the temptation, don’t chew on ice cubes, popcorn kernels, and hard candy. All three can easily crack a tooth. Your teeth are for chewing, not cutting. Leave cutting to a good pair of scissors. Explore dental insurance options Though we covered some options of what to do when you have a dental emergency with no insurance, the best way to protect yourself is to just get dental insurance if you can afford it. Don't let dental emergencies chomp away at your finances: Find and compare affordable dental insurance plans in your area. Getting a quote takes minutes and can save you lots of money in the long run.
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healthinsurance.com eight types of dental plans, woman holding a toothbrush
Dental insurance is a highly sought after benefit by individuals who want oral care protection through insurance. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 55% of employees say that health insurance, including dental and vision insurance, is the most important benefit they can receive on top of a good salary. But let’s face it: Dental insurance options can be overwhelming. From indemnity plans to DMO dental plans, there are many options to choose from. So how do you know which plan is right for you? The first step is to learn the differences between the various plans. For example, some plans require your dentist to be part of a network, while others limit maximum charges or have set fees for specific services. Here’s a complete list of the dental insurance plan options and what they might mean to you. 1. Indemnity plans An indemnity dental plan is a popular insurance option for the following reasons: Most plans accept patients of any age. Routine cleanings can be paid at 100%. X-rays are typically included. Coverage for basic services like fillings, sealants and extractions, as well as major services like crowns, oral surgery and implants. Orthodontia options can be included in some plans. Some plans have no waiting periods for benefits, with coverage beginning as soon as the next day after enrollment. Some benefits and annual maximums can increase at the beginning of the second and third coverage periods - a “thank you” from the insurance company for continuing your policy. An indemnity plan generally allows patients to choose their own dentists, but some plans are paired with a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network. Most plans have a maximum allowance in which the insurance company pays for each procedure, so it’s a good idea to understand what the costs and limitations are before purchasing a plan. With indemnity plans, your insurance company pays a certain percentage of claims based on the dental procedure. For example, dental cleanings might be covered 100% twice a year because your insurance company counts it as preventive care. But your insurance carrier may only pay 60% of the cost for filling a cavity or 50% for a root canal. Here's an example of how indemnity plans pay by procedure: Cleanings: Covered, with a maximum of two cleanings per year. Preventive services: Covered X-rays: Covered Extractions: Covered Fluoride treatments: Covered Sealants: Covered up to one time per year Fillings: 60% Root canals: 50% Crowns: 50% Your insurance company might even reward you in ways like paying a high percentage for the cost of a filling. Perks like these make it extra important to compare plans side by side to see how their benefits differ. 2. Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) A Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plan is a form of indemnity insurance that uses a specific network of dentists to deliver dental services based on the insurance company’s agreement with that respective network. In a PPO network, the dentist must accept the insurance company's pre-set fee of the plan. But dentists outside of the network may have higher or lower fees than the plan allows, so it’s important to stay in-network to avoid confusion. You may want to avoid PPO plans in situations where you're shopping for a new plan, but your dentist isn't in network with the plan. That way, you won't have to pay out-of-network pricing or change dentists. 3. Dental Maintenance Organizations (DMO) A Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO) is a network of dentists and specialists that are paid a fixed amount each month for any patient that has been assigned to that dentist. Think of it as a subscription service: You pay to have access to a specific service. When you join a DMO, you’re required to see a primary dentist that has been assigned to you and typically only pay a copayment (or nothing at all) for your dental services. But If you have to see a specialist, you'll need to get a referral from your primary dentist to a specialist within the network. DMO plans have their advantages. For one, they're predictable plans: Dentists must agree to the contracted fees negotiated between the network and the insurance company, so they can’t charge you more money for services. Plus, your out-of-pocket costs are minimized after the monthly premium. But a limited network and the inability to see the dentist of your choice can be a disadvantage of a DMO. 4. Direct Reimbursement Plan (DRP) These plans work like health benefit plans. A DRP is typically self-funded and managed by your employer, which allows you to choose any dentist without being tied to a specific network. With a DRP, you'll get reimbursed for money spent on dental work with no limits. All employers work differently, though. So one employer may reimburse you after submitting a copy of your paid invoice, while others may pay the dentist directly to help ease your out-of-pocket responsibility. Benefits in this type of plan include: No monthly premium in many cases. No deductibles. No waiting periods. No pre-authorization required. Choose any dentist with no network limitations. 5. Point of Service plans (POS) A point-of-service dental plan can be loosely defined as a “half DMO/half PPO” plan. Like a DMO, you can select an in-network dentist to be your primary dental care provider. But like a PPO, you can go outside of the network for other dental services, but you’d have to pay the full cost (unless the primary care dentist has made a referral to an out-of-network dentist or specialist). Then, in most cases, the plan will pay for the services. 6. Dental discount plans Dental discount plans can be a great option for individuals who want to save money on their dental bills, but don’t want to pay for dental insurance. As the name suggests, dental discount plans are not insurance plans. Instead, a company sells its discount plan via contract with a network of dentists and specialists. The dentists then agree to discount their dental fees by a certain percentage. When the patient goes to a dentist in the discount network, they pay the predetermined rate and don’t have to file any dental claims. There are also no waiting periods or deductibles. 7. Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPO) Like a DMO, exclusive provider organization plans require you to only see participating dentists within a set network of providers. There are no out-of-network benefits, so you’re responsible for the entire retail cost of your dental services if you don’t use a contracted provider within the EPO plan. 8. Table or Schedule of Allowances plans Table plans are indemnity plans that pay a fixed dollar amount (or a percentage) for qualifying procedures, regardless of the total cost. This type of plan bases its pricing on a specific schedule based on the amount you’re charged for dental services. The table lists the maximum amount that the plan will pay for individual procedures, which means you’re required to pay for any difference between that amount and the amoun your dentist charges for the service. If you see an out-of-network dentist, there is no limit to the amount the dentist may charge. What dental plan is right for you? Take the time to shop around and compare dental plan benefits, plan pricing, and dentists to choose from. Arm yourself with a better understanding of these plans, so you can confidently purchase the best type of dental insurance for you or your family.
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healthinsurance.com the difference between dental insurance and dental discount plans, teeth with a shopping cart and a piggy bank
Everyone loves a beautiful smile. But we often compromise our pearly whites because dental costs can get pricey, especially if you don't have dental insurance. That's why many people look into dental discount plans as an alternative to help curb costs. But there can be some confusion with dental insurance plans vs. dental discount plans. At first glance, they may seem like the same thing, but they're actually very different. Dental insurance vs. dental discount plans Dental insurance is a type of health insurance plan that covers a portion of the costs of your dental care. This can include coverage for preventive and basic dental care services - and even some major services. Dental discount plans are an alternative to dental insurance. It's essential to understand that dental discount plans are not insurance. Instead, this plan connects you with discounts on specific dental services from certain dentists within the network. Other names for a dental discount plan are savings plans, discount plans, or access plans. Dental insurance 101 Plan types There are several types of dental insurance plans but the two primary types of dental insurance plans are as follows: PPO dental plans Dental Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) dental plans provide dental care for a fixed monthly premium. This type of plan allows you to visit any dentist within the PPO network for reduced service fees. You may go outside of the approved system, but your out-of-pocket costs will increase. This plan works well for those who want to see any dentist who takes their PPO plan. HMO dental plans Dental Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans allow you to see any dentist within the approved network for no fees or for a reduced cost. In some cases, the prices for a HMO dental plan are lower than a PPO plan. However, you can't go outside of the network to receive dental care. This plan works well for those whose preferred dentist is within the DHMO network and who wants a lower fixed monthly premium. What does dental insurance cover? Dental coverage depends on the plan and type, but often encompasses three areas: preventive, basic, and major care. Preventive dental care includes diagnostic and preventive services like regular oral exams, teeth cleaning, and x-rays. It may also include fluoride treatments and sealants (plastic tooth covering to prevent decay). In many cases, dental plans include 100% of the cost of preventive care. Basic dental care includes office visits, extractions, fillings, periodontal treatment (gum disease), and root canals. Your insurance company might pay anywhere from 60 to 80% of the cost for these services, with you covering the rest of the cost. But if you're paying a lower percentage of the costs, you may have a high-dollar copay. Major dental care covers crowns, bridges, dentures, and inlays. Inlays are something between a filling and a crown: Your tooth might have extensive decay and need a more substantial filling, but it may not be in bad enough shape to require a crown. Meanwhile, crowns completely cover the tooth. Some dental insurance plans include root canals under "major" dental care, while others categorize them as "basic." The cost of major dental care is higher, and most insurance plans cover about 50% of the fee. What are the benefits and features of dental insurance? Simply put: Dental insurance offers people an affordable way to receive routine dental care and emergency oral procedures. Individuals and families who don't have dental insurance might visit the dentist less often. The result is less preventive care and early treatment for tooth decay and gum disease. Choosing the right dental plan for you and your family may seem overwhelming. The National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) has put together a list of dental insurance words to help you figure everything out: Copays: Fees you pay for covered dental treatments. Deductible: The fixed amount you must pay each year before your insurance pays for any covered dental procedures. The good news is that dental deductibles are usually much lower than medical health plans. Annual maximum: The most a dental plan will pay toward the cost of you dental services. If your treatment goes over this total dollar amount, the dental insurance won't pay the cost. Only 3% to 5% of people with dental policies reach the annual maximum each year. Exclusions: Dental services that aren't covered by your insurance. If a service or procedure isn't on the list of covered services, you'll pay 100% of the cost. Cosmetic procedures like bonding or laser whitening are examples of standard exclusions. What are the costs of dental insurance? Dental insurance premiums vary for each person. Some factors include: Is it an individual or family policy? Is the dental insurance provided through an employer? What are the annual maximums? What are the annual deductible and the copays? In most cases, a higher deductible means a lower monthly payment. Or a higher monthly payment equals a lower deductible. For the most part, fixed monthly premiums range between $39 per month for an individual to $139 per month for a family. FAIR Health has a handy calculator for dental costs you can use to estimate the cost of specific dental services. Dental Discount Plan 101 A dental discount plan works much like having a discount card at a grocery store or pharmacy. When you receive services, you show your card and receive a discounted price for dental work. There's no claim to process with the dental discount company. You pay the discounted fee, and that's it. The programs can work for people who want to save on their dental needs, but they are more common for older adults. Discount ranges depend on the plan, but they're typically between 10% and 50%. What are the benefits and features of a dental discount plan? Unlike dental insurance, dental discount plans don’t have copays or deductibles. You receive a set discount on dental services only. Still, your out-of-pocket costs may be higher than your out-of-pocket dental insurance costs because the discount may be less than paying the copays, deductibles or coinsurance. Some plans include complete coverage of preventive care, but this is a standard part of most dental insurance plans. (Reminder: Dental discount plans are not insurance plans). Also, your dentist network may be smaller than with dental insurance, so taking advantage of the discount might be inconvenient. What are the costs of the dental discount plan? Typically, your annual membership fee is about $150 per family - and you pay this fee whether you receive discounts on dental services or not. After you pay the fee, your costs depend on the dental services you need and the discount amount provided by the dentist. Which option is best for you? Dental discount plans may be better if you want to supplement your current dental coverage or want a discount plan that includes a cost-benefit for cosmetic procedures. And they can be a good option if you know you're going to surpass your annual maximum on your dental insurance. Dental insurance works for most people and operates much like health insurance: You have a more extensive network of dentists with dental insurance, and your out-of-pocket costs may be lower. You can also enroll in an individual dental plan in between jobs or while waiting for dental benefits to start at a new job. And you can cancel you coverage with a 30-day notice for most plans. Some providers will accept both your dental discount plan and dental insurance. But others will allow you to use one, but not the other. Find and compare dental plans The best way to know if dental insurance is right for you is to shop around and compare plans. Our plan comparison tool allows you to filter plans by insurance company, monthly premium, and annual maximum. You can get a dental plan quote through our site with no commitment. The process takes just minutes out of your day: You enter your zip code, birthday, and gender to get a list of plans, plan benefits, and prices.
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