You might be surprised to learn that dental care isn’t considered an essential benefit covered by health insurance. True fact. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) dictates that insurance providers don’t need to offer dental coverage as a part of their insurance packages. This means that almost no private insurance plan covers dental benefits, but there are plenty of companies that provide affordable dental coverage for an additional premium.
We’ll take a look at dental insurance options in Arkansas and introduce you to some of the most affordable dental insurance plans in the Bear State.
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Quick Look: Best Dental Insurance in Arkansas
- Humana: Best Overall
- Guardian Dental: Most Affordable
- Ameritas: Best for Orthodontic Coverage
- Cigna: Best for Quick Quotes
- Physicians Mutual: Best for Saving on Deductibles
Types of Dental Coverage
Multiple types of dental coverage exist in Arkansas and dental insurance plans are much less complicated than the health insurance infrastructure. There are 3 main types of dental plans:
- Preferred provider organizations (PPOs): PPO plans allow you to see any dentist or dental service provider you want. However, if you choose to see an in-network service provider, you’ll pay less for your treatment. PPO plans are the most expensive type of dental insurance, but they may be ideal if you already have a dentist you want to see who’s out of other plans’ networks.
- Dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs): DHMOs only offer coverage for dentists and dental service providers within the organization’s pre-approved network. DHMOs give you fewer dentist choices but they’re also more affordable than PPOs.
- Dental discount or referral plan: Dental discount and referral plans aren’t technically a type of insurance. They don’t pay for any of your treatment costs. Instead, the dentists who agree to participate in the discount plan offer you a discount on treatments and procedures you receive. These plans are often free or very low cost but are very limited in their usefulness.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
Most dental insurance plans offer a schedule of benefits based on what percentage of the treatment cost they cover. The most popular benefits schedule is the “100-80-50” schedule, which means that your insurance will pay for:
- 100% of the cost of preventive treatments, including exams, X-rays and cleanings.
- 80% of the cost of basic procedures, including cavity fillings, root canals and crowns.
- 50% of the cost of major procedures, including dentures, bridges and implants.
This is just the most common dental benefits schedule. You may have a 50-50-50 plan, a 100-70-50 plan or any other combination. Consult with an insurance rep if you’re unsure about what your plan covers.
Unlike health insurance, there is no set list of benefits that your insurance provider must offer. Many dental insurance plans exclude treatments and services that dentists consider medically necessary.
For example, your plan may or may not cover sealants, regardless of the fact that most dental professionals agree that sealants are an effective form of preventive dental care. Be sure to thoroughly read your plan’s benefits and inclusions before you sign onto a policy so you know exactly what’s covered.
What Does Dental Insurance Not Cover?
Most dental insurance plans exclude coverage for the following treatments and procedures:
- Cosmetic dentistry: Purely cosmetic dentistry (like teeth whitening) is almost never covered by dental insurance.
- Preexisting conditions: Unlike health insurance providers, dental insurance providers are free to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions. Your insurance provider may limit your benefits if you have an oral health issue or chronic condition when you apply for a policy.
- Orthodontia: Orthodontic treatments (like braces, headgear and retainers) are rarely covered for adult patients. Some plans may provide limited orthodontic benefits, but this coverage is usually limited to children under the age of 19.
This is not an exhaustive list of treatments not covered by dental insurance. Your individual provider may exclude coverage for almost any treatment or service they choose. This is why it’s very important to thoroughly read and understand your policy before you sign.
Average Cost of Dental Insurance in Arkansas
Dental insurance premiums in Arkansas are similar to the rest of the United States. The average policyholder can expect to pay between $30 and $45 per month for coverage for an individual plan.
What to Look for in a Dental Insurance Provider
When you compare dental insurance plans, look for these key benefits.
- A deductible that you can afford: Your deductible is a set amount of money you need to spend on your own dental treatments before your insurance kicks in and starts covering your bills. For example, let’s say you have a deductible of $200 and your treatment only costs $180. You’ll pay for all of your bill. However, the next time you go to the dentist and receive a $200 bill, you’ll only pay $20 plus whatever co-insurance percentage is laid out in your plan. Look for a plan with a deductible that you can afford to get the most out of your insurance coverage.
- High yearly maximums: Most dental insurance plans have yearly caps on the amount of money you can save on treatments. Look for a plan with high annual maximums to make sure that your insurance is worth what you’re paying in premiums.
- Availability in your area: Not every dental provider is authorized to sell plans in every state. Make sure your insurance provider is able to sell plans in Arkansas before you enroll.
Best Dental Insurance Providers in Arkansas
Now that you understand the basics of how dental insurance works, let’s take a closer look at some of the best dental insurance plans available in Arkansas.
1. Humana: Best Overall
Humana offers the best of both major dental plan types and offers up an impressive selection of both DHMO and PPO plans. PPO plans are available from as little as $25 and most Arkansas residents can choose from 5 different plan tiers.
Humana’s plans have low deductibles that anyone can afford and many plan selections offer $50 annual deductibles for individual plans. Getting a quote is just as simple as affording a policy — all you need to do is enter your zip code, gender and date of birth to see your choices. Humana is our first choice for dental insurance in Arkansas.
2. Guardian Direct: Cheapest Dental Insurance in AR
Looking for the most affordable way to insure your smile? Your first stop should be to Guardian Direct. Guardian Direct offers some of the most affordable plans in Arkansas — basic PPOs start at just $17 a month. All of Guardian Direct’s plans cover at least 80% of the costs of cleanings and X-rays and most plans cover 100%.
Its gold plan even offers 50% coverage for child braces (as long as your little one is under the age of 19) for a little more than $30 a month. We recommend Guardian Direct for fast, affordable dental insurance without the frills.
3. Ameritas: Best for Orthodontic Coverage
Orthodontic treatments like retainers and braces aren’t just cosmetic procedures — they can also help prevent gum disease and make flossing, brushing and chewing easier.
Most dental insurance plans don’t offer coverage for orthodontic work, even if your dentist deems it medically necessary. Ameritas is one of the only insurance providers in Arkansas to offer coverage for orthodontia, and its plans are surprisingly affordable.
Most individuals can find orthodontia benefits for as little as $31 a month. Know that someone on your plan will need orthodontic work and you want to further protect yourself? You can also extend your coverage limits to $2,000 annually for just $46 a month.
4. Cigna: Best for Quick Quotes
The last thing you want when you compare quotes is to spend an hour on each website endlessly entering personal information. Cigna makes it easy to get a quote fast — you can even view all of their most popular plan options and what they include without even entering your zip code.
When you do need a personalized quote, just enter your zip code, coverage start date and name to see your options. Cigna’s plans are also affordable — preventive plans are available from just $19 a month.
5. Physicians Mutual: Best for Saving on Deductibles
High deductibles can offset the benefits you get from your dental insurance. Don’t want to worry about doing the math and finding the break-even point for your coverage? Consider a plan from Physicians Mutual.
PPO plans from Physicians Mutual have no deductible and include coverage for over 350 of the most common dental procedures. Its plans are available in Arkansas from just under $18 a month and have no annual or lifetime limitations on cash benefits.
This makes its plans ideal for both individuals and families who wonder if dental insurance is really worth the price.
Coverage that Helps You Smile Brighter
Not sure which dental insurance plan is right for you? Start by getting a few quotes from competing companies. Every dental insurance company uses its own unique formula to determine how much you’ll pay for your coverage.
It’s possible to get 10 different quotes from 10 different insurance providers for the exact same coverage due to differences in underwriting. You have no idea how much you could be saving until you request quotes — so don’t be afraid to take some time looking for the perfect policy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) Q: How does dental insurance work?
A dental insurance plan charges a premium in exchange for covered benefits. Unlike health insurance plans, dental insurance plans usually have a cap on benefits, which means your plan may stop providing coverage once you reach the annual cap, often between 1k and 3K. Like other types of healthcare insurance, dental insurance focuses coverage on essential services, like cleanings, fillings, etc. Many plans don’t cover braces or elective cosmetic procedures. Get the cheapest premium here.
2) Q: Is dental coverage part of health insurance?
Some health insurance plans bundle dental coverage as well but, in many cases, dental insurance is a separate plan. Healthcare plans that are ACA-compliant are required to offer dental coverage to children but there is no requirement that adults have dental insurance coverage. Choosing a separate dental insurance plan can be a cost-saving step and helps make dental health costs more predictable. Check out our best providers for the cheapest rate.
3) Q: What kinds of dental insurance are available?
Your choices for dental insurance plans are similar to health insurance choices. You can choose from a dental HMO, which helps to keep premium costs low by keeping services within controlled network. Dental PPOs give more freedom to choose your dentist and care but cost more than HMO plans. A third option is called a dental indemnity plan, which pays a fixed amount or percentage for covered services. Compare quotes from our top providers for the best price.