Best Dental Insurance Illinois

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Contributor, Benzinga
October 8, 2019

Did you know most of our readers prefer for their dental insurance needs?

While you may be able to purchase a dental plan in conjunction with your employer-sponsored or Affordable Care Act Marketplace plan, you may also need to purchase a separate plan if this isn't an option. Looking for the best Illinois dental insurance? We’ll get you started on the road to a healthier smile with our guide to dental insurance providers in the Prairie State.

The Best Dental Insurance in Illinois

Types of Dental Coverage

There are multiple types of dental insurance plans, but the main 2 are:

  • Preferred provider organizations (PPOs): A PPO plan gives you a list of dentists in your organization’s network. You’ll get a discount if you choose to go to an in-network dentist, but you’re still covered if you go out of your network. PPOs give you the most freedom to choose where you get your dental services from but are more expensive than DHMOs.
  • Dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs): DHMOs also come with a list of in-network dental service providers. You cannot go out of your network and use your benefits. DHMOs are more limited but also more affordable than PPOs.

You might have the option to sign onto a dental referral plan or dental discount plan. These aren’t technically a form of insurance because they don’t cover any of your treatment costs. Instead, they function as a discount agreement so you pay less for dental coverage and continue to see a particular dentist or group of dentists. 

What Does Dental Insurance Cover?

Dental insurance providers don’t have a set list of benefits that they must offer you. Every dental insurance provider can pick and choose which services they cover. This makes it particularly important to read your plan’s complete policy and list of inclusions so there aren’t any surprises when you file a claim.

You’ll usually see benefits listed as a set of 3 numbers. The most common dental benefits schedule is “100-80-50.” It means that your insurance covers:

  • 100% of preventive care costs: Preventive care includes routine and scheduled care that helps you avoid future dental issues. Cleanings, exams and X-rays are all usually considered preventive care.
  • 80% of basic services costs: Basic services are routine corrective services. Root canals, cavity fillings and crowns are all usually considered basic services.
  • 50% of major services costs: Major services are rare and intensive procedures used to correct major dental issues. Dental implants, bridges and dentures are all usually considered major services.

Remember that your individual dental insurance company can decide what is preventive care, a basic service and a major service. For example, some insurance companies consider root canals to be a major service, while others consider them a basic service. 

What Doesn't Dental Insurance Cover? 

Most dental insurance plans exclude coverage for the following services.

  • Preexisting conditions: Unlike health insurance companies, dental insurance companies have the right to exclude coverage based on conditions that you already have when you sign onto your policy. Let’s say you already have a chronic oral health condition or you need emergency dental treatments. Be sure to read the terms of your policy very closely. Your dental insurance provider may deny or exclude coverage based on your preexisting conditions.
  • Orthodontic services: Orthodontic services (like braces, headgear and retainers) are very rarely included in dental insurance plans, even as major treatments.
  • Cosmetic dentistry: Procedures that only influence the way you look and have no effect on your health (like teeth whitening) are never covered by dental insurance plans.

Don’t assume that any particular condition or treatment is included in your policy until you see it written into your insurance agreement. 

Average Cost of Dental Insurance in Illinois

The average Illinois resident can expect to pay between $23 and $50 per month for an individual plan, depending on your benefits and insurance provider. However, it’s impossible to say exactly what you’ll pay for coverage until you get a quote. 

What to Look for in a Dental Insurance Provider

Some of the features you should look for when you compare dental insurance plans include:

  • A deductible you can afford: A deductible is the amount of money you need to spend on your dental care before your insurance kicks in and starts paying for your dental care. You could actually end up losing money if you have a high deductible and buy dental insurance. Choose a plan with a reasonable deductible that you can afford.
  • High maximum plan benefits: Most dental insurance plans include an annual maximum dollar amount of benefits. You might be left without the coverage you need later on in the year if your maximum is too low. Look for a dental insurance policy with high maximums.
  • Availability in your area. Not every dental insurance provider is authorized to sell insurance plans in every state and county. Make sure that your insurance company of choice offers plans in your zip code before you consider enrolling. 

Best Dental Insurance Providers in Illinois

Let’s take a look at some of the best dental insurance plans in Illinois. 

1. Delta Dental: Best Overall

Delta Dental is one of the largest dental insurance providers in the United States and policies are available throughout the country.

Delta offers customizable plans for both individuals and business owners and its coverage options are exceptionally affordable as well. Its most basic plan is available in most parts of Illinois for just $15 a month and more inclusive plans cost about $30. Its website is also simple and easy to navigate.

It shows you your policy options laid out in clear terms. Delta Dental is our choice for anyone signing up for your first dental insurance policy with affordable prices and an intuitive sign-up process. 

2. Guardian Direct: Cheapest Dental Insurance in IL

Want a PPO plan but can’t justify spending $50 a month just to see your dentist? Consider getting a quote from Guardian Direct.

Guardian Direct offers PPO plans from just $20 and allows you to see your current dental service provider without breaking the bank.

You can also save up to 35% on your policy whether you choose a PPO or DHMO — if your dentist happens to be in Guardian Direct’s network. Be sure to consider Guardian Direct during your hunt for coverage if you’re looking for affordable dental insurance without a long list of restrictions. 

3. Humana: Best for Easy Quotes

Humana makes it easy to quickly compare plan options available in your area — and its policies are cheap enough for nearly anyone to afford.

Simply enter your zip code, birthdate and gender and you’ll see up to 5 policy choices.

You can get your quotes in as little as 30 seconds and sign up for a policy in less than 30 minutes.

Humana offers both DHMO and PPO plans, and plans are available from just $13. Humana is our top choice for anyone who needs coverage fast.

4. Physicians Mutual: Best for No Deductible Policies

High deductibles can reduce the benefit you get from your insurance plan, particularly if you aren’t sure where the break-even point is between your deductible and your benefits. Consider a plan from Physicians Mutual. Dental insurance plans from Physicians Mutual cover over 350 of the most common dental procedures and every plan comes with a $0 deductible.

Plans start at around $25 a month with immediate benefits for preventive care. Physicians Mutual’s quote process is also exceptionally simple — just enter your state and age to see your choices. 

5. Ameritas: Best for Orthodontic Coverage

Orthodontic work is almost always excluded from dental insurance policies, even if it’s determined to be medically necessary by your dentist. Consider a plan from Ameritas if you know that someone on your plan will require orthodontic work.

Ameritas is one of the few insurance providers that offers coverage for orthodontia, though you’ll need to splurge on a high-level plan to reap the benefits. Its plan includes orthodontic treatments that start at $50 a month and include up to $2,000 worth of coverage per calendar year. 

Smile Brighter with Illinois Dental Insurance

Don’t put off the dental work you need because you’re afraid you can’t afford treatment. Most dental insurance plans include a clause that says you can start using your preventive care benefits as soon as you pay your first month’s premium. However, like any other type of insurance, it’s crucial that you read and understand what your policy covers before you sign on the dotted line. Don’t be afraid to compare plan benefits and costs before you choose an insurance provider. Your teeth — and your wallet — will thank you. 

Frequently Asked Questions


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.


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.


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.


Dental Insurance Methodology

To determine the best dental insurance providers, we pored through all United States carriers. We winnowed the list by only including companies that have a wide coverage area and product offering. To further break down the list to the true best dental insurance providers, we gave weight to carriers that offer discounts, are available in all states and have multiple payment plan options.

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About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.