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Cheap Dental Insurance: Coverage, Choices, and Cautions

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When it comes to dental health, having insurance can help you reduce the often-steep costs of major dental procedures, like root canals, crowns, bridges, and dentures. But if you’re choosing your own dental insurance, it can be hard to figure out what plan really is right for you.  

It’s natural to want to choose the lowest cost insurance available. But before you do that make sure you understand why some dental insurance plans may be much cheaper than others, and what you should consider when choosing an affordable dental insurance plan. Additionally, exploring alternatives like dental savings plans can provide a comprehensive approach to managing dental expenses without breaking the bank. 

Is cheap dental insurance worth it? 

Dental insurance that is notably cheaper – sometimes referred to as preventive-care only plans or “basic dental insurance” often has certain characteristics that set it apart from more expensive counterparts, such as:  

Few in-network dentists 

Dental insurance options include Dental Preferred Provider Organizations (DPPO) and Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMO).  With a DPPO plan, you can see any dentist but will save more if you choose an in-network dentist (a “preferred provider”). DHMO plans typically require you to see an in-network dentist only. Cheaper dental insurance, whether its DPPO or DHMO, may have a limited network of participating dentists, giving you fewer choices when it comes to selecting a dentist. Make sure to check the plan’s network of dentists to make sure that a dentist you’d want to see accepts the insurance you’re considering purchasing. Other questions to consider: is there more than one quality dentist near me who accepts this insurance? And, if you travel, check to see if the insurance is accepted nationwide, or is it restricted to a small region. 

Limits on dental care  

Cheap dental insurance might only cover preventive care, such as cleanings, exams, and x-rays. Everyone needs regular preventive care, it’s the best way to maintain oral health. But while “preventive care only” policies can be attractive due to their lower premiums; they don’t provide cost reductions on procedures you might need to manage a dental emergency or afford orthodontic care and other complex treatments. Preventive care is covered by all dental insurance policies, often at no additional cost, while also offering cost savings on more expensive treatments.  

Low annual spending limits 

Inexpensive dental insurance plans may have low annual caps on how much they will pay out for dental care. Once this limit is reached, you are responsible for all additional costs, which can be a problem if unexpected dental issues arise.  

What to look out for when choosing cheap dental insurance 

When selecting an affordable dental insurance plan, it’s vital to look beyond the monthly premiums. Understanding the details of what is and isn’t covered is essential. It’s important to evaluate the list of in-network providers to ensure there are quality dentists available within a reasonable distance. Additionally, reviewing the coverage for different types of dental services, especially those that are likely to be needed, can prevent unpleasant surprises when it comes to out-of-pocket costs. 

It’s also advisable to consider the plan’s deductible, which is the amount you’ll need to pay before insurance kicks in, as well as the co-payment requirements and the co-insurance rates. These factors can significantly affect the overall cost of dental care throughout the year, potentially making a cheap dental insurance plan more expensive overall. 

All that said, if you and your family have excellent oral health, a preventive-care only policy may be enough. And if your dental care needs suddenly become more complex – a broken tooth that needs to be replaced, a kid who needs braces, gum disease that needs treatment ASAP – you can join a dental savings plan. 

Affordable dental insurance options 

For those seeking an alternative to traditional dental insurance, a dental savings plan can be a cost-effective solution. These plans can also be used to reduce the cost of procedures that your insurance policy won’t pay for or doesn’t include. 

Unlike insurance, dental savings plans don’t pay for a portion of the costs. Instead, they provide access to a network of dentists who have agreed to offer reduced rates to plan members. This can result in substantial savings for a wide array of dental services, including procedures not typically covered by insurance, such as cosmetic dentistry. Plan members report saving an average of 50%* on their dental care costs. 

See how much you can save with a dental savings plan.

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Dental savings plans often have a low annual fee and no deductibles or annual limits, making them an attractive option for anyone who wants to manage their dental care expenses more predictably. Plan members can save on virtually all dental procedures, from routine cleanings to more complex treatments, without worrying about exceeding annual caps or navigating complex dental insurance policy guidelines. 

Choosing the plan that’s right for you 

While the allure of cheap dental insurance is strong, particularly for those eager to minimize their healthcare expenses, it’s crucial to delve into the specifics of what a specific dental insurance plan offers and what it limits. Understanding the trade-offs between cost and coverage can guide you in making informed decisions that align with your dental care needs and financial circumstances. And considering a dental savings plan as a complement or alternative to traditional insurance can offer a flexible and often more affordable way to ensure access to quality dental care. 

What’s next? DentalPlans.com offers a plan finder tool that can help you quickly and easily find the dental plan that best meets your budget and needs. If you prefer to talk to a person, give us a call at 1-833-735-0399 for a personalized recommendation.  

Want a quick look at how much you can save with a dental savings plan? Use the calculator below now. 

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan. 

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