I have been talking lately about dental insurance to shed some light on this confusing subject. Recently I was asked about dental plans that can be purchased by individuals at very low cost. I was asked, “What’s the difference?” That’s a good question. You need to know if the plan you are looking at is in fact a plan that covers a certain amount per year and certain percentages based on the dental procedures, or, if the “plan” is a discount program. A discount program has a fee schedule that it establishes for each dental procedure and this reduced fee you pay to a dentist that participates in their plan. The fees are drastically reduced, so practices that participate rely on a high volume of patients to offset their losses. An office that is committed to excellence and personal service would have a higher overhead and would most likely be unable to participate in such a program.
Dental discount programs don't pay any of your health care costs. They require you to pay a fee for a list of dentists who are willing to offer disounts to members of the program.
Do the math. Try to calculate what your total payment for a discount plan will be for a given amount of time. You could be responsible for paying a substantial amount up front, in addition to monthly fees and other costs. The costs of the program may total more than the savings you anticipate.
A discount program also deprives you of freedom of choice because you will get no benefit from the program if you choose a dentist that isn’t on the discount list. Even if you have conventional dental insurance, make sure your plan gives you the freedom to choose your own dentist and still receive your benefit.
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