What’s all of the fuss about these dental discount plans anyway? They’re not dental insurance so are they any good or are they some kind of hyped up “money making scam” created to rip off unsuspecting consumers that don’t know any better?
Let’s take a look at some of the differences between discount dental plans and traditional dental insurance.
This is what you’re probably used to hearing about, right? Of course you are! Why? Because the word “insurance” is included in the term. If it’s insurance then it must be the “way to go” because I already pay for my car insurance, homeowner’s insurance AND Medical insurance so why shouldn’t I just buy the darned dental insurance and be done with it?
Dental insurance is actually not as easy to get as it once was. Most of the better policies these days are actually obtained through group coverage purchased by employers, although you can purchase dental insurance policies for yourself and your family through an insurance agent.
You can get several big name companies that provide coverage this way. This type of dental insurance, while providing decent coverage, does have what is known as a “waiting period” before any type of previous conditions will be covered.
Previous conditions are dental problems that you had before you purchased the insurance. This will shock you after you visit the dentist for the first time after receiving your new dental card.
Example, when you first go to the dentist they will want to perform an “Initial Oral Exam”. This basic procedure will determine a course of action for you and your dentist in order to get and keep your teeth and gums healthy. You will also have to have “bitewing” x-rays in order to find any cavities or “caries” that are not obvious.
Here comes the shocker. You walk into the dentists office in a great mood thinking to yourself “This is great! I’m finally going to get my teeth fixed because I’ve got me some dental insurance!” This is when the dentist drops the “bomb” on you that the procedures needed to fix your teeth will cost you several hundred (or thousand) dollars and, in order to get your teeth fixed, you will have to pay for that out of your own pocket because your dental insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions.
Most waiting periods last at least six to twelve months and are NOT negotiable. Many procedures won’t be covered 100% even after the waiting period.
Dental Discount Plans
Discounted dental plans offer the consumer professional dental care at a discount. The only stipulation to this is that you must pay cash at the time of the visit. This is how dental discount plans work.
Most discounted plans will give you discounts anywhere from 10-60% on most common procedures such as cleanings, x-rays, exams, crowns, root canals, fillings, etc. Many will cover up to 25% on oral surgery.
It works like this. Let’s say for example that you go to the dentist for a routine checkup. The dentist will do an oral exam, take some x-rays, fill any cavities that need to be taken care of and possibly schedule you to get your teeth cleaned, assuming that you didn’t already get it done in this visit.
Each one of those procedures listed above is a separate, chargeable procedure. A periodic oral exam costs in the range of $60.00, X-Rays – “Intraoral Complete Series” costs in the area of $140.00 and a “Resin Based” composite filling will run you from $175-$220.00.
This one visit could end up costing you as much as $420.00 or more with traditional dental insurance, you could get all of this done for as much as half off IF you were able to pay cash for all of the procedures at the time of the visit.
Are discounted dental plans a scam? Not likely, but you will have to pay cash up front to be able to take advantage of the benefits that they offer.