Dental Plans vs. Dental Insurance
If you don't have insurance through your employer, or are self-employed, you may be struggling with getting a reasonably priced dental insurance plan. The costs of an individual policy can be quite high and the coverage is likely to be less than you'd get with any group plan or employer plan.
What are your options?
Well, you can consider a dental discount plan. A dental discount plan is NOT insurance. In fact, it is more like being a member of a group-buying club. Fundamentally, what you get is a discount on your dental services. With the power of the group behind them, the founders of such plans have negotiated a reduced fee for service with dentists who are part of the discount plan. Dentists in the plan will consider this lower fee to be equivalent to payment in full. You will get that discount on the spot. You don't have to wait for reimbursement from your insurance. You don't have co-payments or deductibles to worry about.
For the price of a yearly membership, you will have the right to use any dentist who is part of the group-buying club. You'll only pay for the dental services you actually use, as opposed to paying an insurance premium that often assumes that you'll make a certain use of dental services.
Another benefit is that your membership fee is usually lower than the cost of your yearly insurance premiums.
What are your options? Well, if you are making use of high-priced dental services, the discounts may not save you as much as having insurance would have. Also, since you pay as you go with dental discount plans, if you have a particularly challenging year and there are a lot of dental services to pay, you'll be paying a lot more out of pocket. Insurance tends to soften the impact of a bad year much more than a dental discount plan would.
Insurance will often either prevent you from making payments up front or it will reimburse you more afterwards. Further, the services that are most often discounted highly are also the services that are the least expensive, routine care. If you need specialized care, the discount may not be very much.
Which means that you will have to consider your situation, your family members and then decide if a discount plan is right for you? If you have children who may have some significant dental problems or if you have a tendency towards serious dental problems, you might want to purchase insurance. However, if you have basically healthy teeth, or if insurance is prohibitively expensive for you because of your employment or other reason, a discount dental plan may be a good option.