Dental insurance plans are policies that provide financial support for treating various dental ailments. Considering the fact that dental problems get progressively worse with time and are preventable if detected early, a dental benefit option stresses preventive treatment. Many dental insurance plans also include children as part of their coverage program.
Dental insurance plans are typically business arrangements between an employer and an insurance company covering routine processes such as a thorough examination by the dentist and a set of X-rays. They are drafted by profit-based companies to process payment claims for dental services. The different categories of plans sponsored by these companies for individuals or groups include:
a) Fee-for-service plans or indemnity plans. A monthly premium is normally debited by the employer or the patient to the insurance agency for a fixed time before it starts to pay for the dental care. In this scheme, the insurance companies usually cover 50-80% of the cost of the treatment, while the remaining cost is paid by the patient. The limitation of the indemnity plan structure is that it may require waiting periods, and is not applicable for emergency dental services. It is one of the more expensive dental benefit options, and does not support procedures such as aesthetic dentistry and implants.
b) Managed care plans, or Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) programs are schemes where the patient is at a liberty to choose the dentist from a network. The fees payable for the services rendered by the dentist will be discounted by the PPO. However, if the dentist is not among those preferred, it results in much higher deductibles and larger co-payments from the patient. Though it is less expensive compared to indemnity plans, it may require one to change dentists due to a limitation in the panel of participating dentists.
With the large variety of dental benefit options available today, it is best to fully understand the fine print of each scheme and then choose one which provides the maximum coverage for an extended period of time.