You probably know there are a number of programs that help low-income households receive health insurance coverage. Did you also know that low income dental insurance also exists?
Here’s Benzinga’s guide to the best dental insurance options for low-income households, so you can get those pearly whites completely covered.
Best Low Income Dental Insurance:
- Best Overall for Low Income: Smart Health Dental
- Best for Children’s Coverage: Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Best for Immediate Coverage: Careington
- Best for Dental Savings Plans: Dentalplans.com
- Best for Direct Payments: UnitedHealthcare
What is Low Income Dental Insurance?
Low-income dental insurance is designed to help low-income families receive coverage. There are 3 main federally-funded programs that provide free or low-cost health services to low-income households: Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP. Here’s a quick overview of each.
If you are 65 years or older or have a disability, you may qualify for limited dental coverage through Medicare. You’ll only receive coverage for dental services involved with another covered procedure. If you qualify for Medicare, you may also want to look into Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies and can include more comprehensive dental coverage.
Medicaid is state-run, so the guidelines for eligibility and services vary by state. Most states provide Medicaid dental benefits for people under 21, but if you’re over 21, coverage should be verified within your state. Medicaid also provides limited emergency dental services in many states.
Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
CHIP can provide children up to age 19 with medical coverage, and in some cases, with dental services as well. CHIP services vary from state to state.
There may also be some other ways to receive low-cost dental services:
- Dental and dental hygiene schools. Most dental and dental hygiene schools offer low-cost dental treatment to patients. Students can get real-world experience in treating patients at a reduced cost. All procedures performed in these schools are closely supervised by licensed dentists or dental hygienists.
- Local resources. There may be other programs or dental offices in your area that offer free or low-cost services. Call your state or local health department for a referral.
- Private insurance. If you don’t qualify for any of the programs above, your next step is to look into buying private dental insurance. Search the Marketplace for combined health and dental insurance plan. You can purchase both individually, but it can pay to bundle.
Types of Dental Coverage
Get a basic understanding of the types of dental coverage available before you make your decision. Check out 8 of the basic plan types below.
Insurance companies pay a certain percentage of your dental bill and you’re responsible for the remaining costs. Most plans list a maximum amount to be paid for each type of dental procedure.
Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs)
A PPO plan works with a specific network of dentists. This type of plan requires the participating dentists to offer services for a set fee. If you have a PPO, visit dentists that participate with your insurance plan to avoid paying more for dental services if they go above your maximum allowance.
Table or Schedule of Allowances
Each dental procedure has a set dollar amount covered by your insurance company. You are responsible for paying the remaining balance beyond that amount. However, you can pair this with a PPO plan to receive maximum coverage.
Exclusive Provider Organizations (EPOs)
Like PPO plans, EPOs work within a network of participating dentists, and you only receive coverage if you visit an in-network dentist.
Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMOs)/Capitation Plans
These dental plans have contracts with certain dentists. You’ll be assigned to a dentist and the dentist will receive a certain amount each month to cover specific dental services. Your dentist must provide the services they are contracted to perform at no cost or reduced cost to you.
Direct Reimbursement (DR)
This plan is ideal if you prefer to have the freedom to visit any dentist that you want, regardless of whether or not they are in-network. These plans will reimburse you for a percentage of your dental bills after you paid for your visit. Some direct reimbursement plans don’t require you to complete claims forms or processing, while others need a receipt or other proof of treatment. Each direct reimbursement plan is different; read the fine print before you enroll.
These plans usually reimburse you for your dental procedures based on its table of allowances for services. It also offers a network of participating providers. To receive the maximum amount of reimbursement, visit an in-network provider. If you visit a dentist who is not in-network, you may receive less reimbursement.
Discount or Referral
This is a common option if you need affordable dental insurance. Insurance companies can create a contract with a network of participating dentists. If you are a member of a discount or referral plan, you can receive discounted dental services with the participating dentists. You pay the discounted cost directly to your dentist, and there is no need to fill out any claims forms with the insurance company.
Average Cost of Low Income Dental Insurance
A dental insurance plan averages $360 per year for an individual. You may qualify for any of the programs mentioned in this article and eligible for cheaper dental coverage.
What to Look for in a Dental Insurance Provider
When choosing a dental provider, it’s important to consider a few factors:
- The types of plans you qualify for
- Plans that best fit your budget
- The services covered by each plan
Before you shop, think about the dental services you need throughout the next year and get quotes from various providers.
Best Low Income Dental Insurance Providers
Get quotes from Benzinga’s recommended providers for the most personalized results.
1. Best Overall for Low Income: Smart Health Dental
Smart Health Dental (SHD) offers multiple dental insurance and non-insurance plan options. It has an extensive national network of over 200,000 licensed dental providers. No waiting periods
There are no waiting periods, and you’ll find dental insurance plans with up to 100% coverage on preventive procedures.
Call for a free quote Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
2. Best for Children’s Coverage: Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
Look into the Children’s Health Insurance Program for dental coverage if you have a child under the age of 19. States are required to offer dental benefits to children eligible for the Medicaid and CHIP programs.
Dental benefits include dental health maintenance, teeth restoration and dental pain and infection relief. If other dental services are medically necessary, these should be covered as well.
3. Best for Immediate Coverage: Careington
Careington Dental Insurance isn’t technically insurance — it’s a dental savings plan. Enrolling in a Careington plan allows you access to dental care from participating providers at a reduced cost. You’ll find a large network of participating dentists, immediate coverage and no age limits.
Its 500 Savings Plan is the most popular. This plan offers an average of 20% to 60% off of standard fees for most dental procedures, including routine exams, teeth cleaning for both adults and children and root canals. The 500 Dental Savings Plan also offers 20% off of orthodontics such as braces. And you’ll also receive unlimited access to eDocAmerica, a free email service to ask dentists questions.
4. Best for Dental Savings Plans: Dentalplans.com
Dentalplans.com is a hub for you to search and find a dental savings plan. Dental savings plans are not insurance. But your monthly membership buys you a savings card to present at the dentist of your choice for a percentage off the price of your services.
Dental savings plans can be an affordable alternative to insurance. Your plan works through nationwide network of dentists that offer 10 to 60% savings on preventive and restorative treatments.
Dentalplans.com is the perfect place to find your savings plan. If you find the same dental savings product at a lower cost, call its AtYourService® Team. It will match the price offered by online competitors.
5. Best for Direct Payments: UnitedHealthcare
If you want to avoid the hassle of claims forms or pay 100% out of pocket for your dental bills, look for a provider that offers direct payments. UnitedHealthcare provides access to a network of more than 85,000 dental offices so you can find the most convenient provider to your location.
It offers coverage for preventive care, fillings, emergency treatments for pain and major services such as root canals. Best of all, UnitedHealthcare pays its in-network dentists directly. This means you can let your dental insurance provider handle the bill upfront instead of waiting for reimbursement.
You can find available UnitedHealthcare dental plans in your area by requesting a quote.
Find Dental Coverage Today
Low-income dental insurance options are within your reach. Know what’s available in your area, weigh your options, determine your eligibility and seek out quotes for the dental insurance that is right for you and your household.
Start with our recommended dental insurance providers and get a free quote now.
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