Many of us are familiar with dental insurance. By paying small monthly premiums, insurance plans allow patients to avoid unexpected sticker shock. Dental insurance often covers preventative treatments like cleanings and exams. Member-based plans offer similar benefits that are exclusive to one dental practice or a group of practices. If you are unsure which option works best for you, this overview details the benefits of each option. |
How does insurance work?
Americans spend around $350 per year on dental insurance. The premiums are usually broken up into monthly payments. Like health insurance, dental insurance typically comes with minimal deductibles that must be met before insurance benefits kick in. Unlike health insurance, these deductibles are typically low. Dental insurance plans may also have caps that limit the total benefits you can enjoy.
When patients go for treatments, dental providers ask if the individuals have dental insurance. If the dental practice accepts that form of insurance, the service is provided for no cost to the patients and the insurance company is billed soon after. Often, there is a small remainder leftover that patients must pay. Even when insurance does not pay for all of the treatment, there can be reductions in prices associated with dental insurance.
While many companies provide dental insurance, 74 million Americans (23 percent of the population) have no dental coverage, according to USA Today. This lack of coverage can lead to serious oral health problems. Patients who do not have insurance are less likely to seek preventative care or early treatments. To help dentists provide treatments to uninsured patients, dental membership plants have become increasingly popular.
How do membership plans work?
Dental membership plans share basic aspects with dental insurance. The patient pays a small annual fee in return for free and reduced dental services. The major difference between dental membership plans and insurance is that membership plans are typically only honored at one practice. Dental membership plans have many benefits. The most important benefit is the potential to save several hundred dollars per year.
Insurance companies have to charge enough to reimburse dental care providers while paying for their own staff and overhead. Dental membership providers do not have additional overhead to cover. Typically, the membership plans are managed by the same individuals who run the dental practice.
Most membership plans provide preventative services like cleanings, exams, or even x-rays for free. When patients visit their dentist twice a year, these free services typically make up for the cost of dental memberships. Membership plans may also include discounts on other services. Members often enjoy no benefits maximums, no waiting periods, and no burdensome claim forms to file.
Which option is best for me?
If you travel or move often, having dental insurance from a major provider is probably the best route. If you love your current dentist or hope to build a relationship with a new practice, dental membership plans offer greater savings. Having a dental home is just as important as having a regular primary care physician. If you still aren't sure, run the numbers yourself. Look at the total annual cost of membership plans and insurance and factor in cost savings based on how often you visit the dentist or how often you use dental services.
Our team members are trained to discuss your dental membership plan in detail. To learn more, contact our San Clemente office online or call (949) 388-0780.
Dr. John Wallace Ocean View Dentist 949-388-0780
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