How to Choose a Dental Plan
Use this guide to help you choose a dental insurance plan that's just right for you.
Dental insurance used to be available only through employer-sponsored group plans. Today, dental plans are available for individuals as well.
Is dental insurance right for you?
Consider these important facts:
- It's more than a pretty smile. According to a U.S. Surgeon General's report on oral health, working Americans lose an estimated 164 million hours annually to dental disease or dental visits. Children lose an additional 51 million hours of school to dental-related illness, causing more lost work time as parents tend to their children's needs.
- Oral health is closely linked to overall health. Dental health affects some of the body's most essential functions, including speaking, chewing and swallowing. Studies have indicated relationships between periodontal diseases and systemic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, respiratory illness, diabetes, and pregnancy complications.
- Prevention costs less than treatment. Most dental insurance plans emphasize prevention and early detection. People with dental insurance visit their dentists more often. Because of that, they are more likely to avoid serious oral health problems that are expensive and time-consuming to treat.
- Without dental insurance, it may be difficult to find a dentist. In some areas, dentists will only see patients who have dental insurance or can demonstrate an ability to pay. Many dentists require uninsured patients to pay upfront before any treatment is provided, which could cause an individual to forego or delay needed care.
Helpful Tips for Choosing a Dental Plan
Our insurance specialists offer the following advice to help you uncover and focus on the facts that matter most.
If you currently have a regular dentist, ask him/her for a recommendation. If you have a favorite dentist you would like to keep seeing, check with that dentist about which plans he/she belongs to. Dentists are also good resources to learn which plans to avoid.
Fact: More than 30% of Iowa dentists participate in the Delta Dental PPO network and 90% participate in the Delta Dental Premier network.
Choose a dental insurer with experience and a good reputation. As Iowa's leading insurance carrier, Delta Dental of Iowa pays claims quickly and accurately, delivers excellent customer service, and offers great network access. If you're unfamiliar with a particular dental insurance company, contact your local Better Business Bureau or other consumer protection agency.
Fact: Delta Dental provides dental coverage for more Americans than any other insurer.
Compare coverage. Compare any plans you're considering in these key areas:
- Annual maximum This is the maximum amount the plan will pay for services in a given year. $1,000 is pretty standard for most plans, though some may offer less and some may offer more.
- Deductible: This is the amount you pay before the benefits of the plan kick in. The deductible usually resets each year.
- What's covered, and at what level: Most dental plans classify dental procedures in one of three categories: diagnostic and preventive, basic restorative, and major restorative, and assign a percentage of payment for each category. But plans can vary in terms of which category a service is considered to be: root canals, for example, may be in the basic restorative services category of one plan, and in the major restorative services category of another. The difference in the amount paid by the plan could be several hundred dollars. Before buying a dental insurance plan, consider what services you have required in the past as a way of predicting what types of services you will need in the future.
What's not covered: Some types of services are not covered at all - orthodontics, for example, is often not covered in individual dental plans. Some procedures, such as teeth whitening or implants, may be excluded. Waiting periods may be imposed for some services. Again, before buying a dental insurance plan, consider what services you have required in the past as a way of predicting what types of services you will need in the future.
View Delta Dental's Individual plan options and benefit summary comparison.
Evaluate networks. Some dental plans require you to receive all services from a dentist within their particular network. Most plans allow you to see any dentist you wish, but there will be advantages if you see a dentist who participates in the plan's network. So if you already have a regular dentist, check to see if he/she is a network provider for any plan you're considering. And if you don't have a dentist, browse the plan's provider network (you can usually do this online) to learn how many network providers are in your area. Use Delta Dental's Dentist Search to find and locate a qualified dentist in your area.
Fact: Delta Dental has the largest dentist networks in Iowa and across the United States.
Need additional guidance?
NEED ASSISTANCE? An Individual Dental Plan Specialist is standing by: call toll-free 877-423-3582 ext. 3, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.