You can’t put a price tag on a beautiful, healthy smile, but you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to keep it that way. You need to know what your dental insurance plan covers, which dentists you can visit and their basic costs.
That’s why we’ve done our research to find the best companies for dental insurance in California so you can find a plan to keep you shining those pearly whites and stash more money in your pocket.
Best Dental Insurance in California:
- Delta Dental: Best Overall in California
- SmartSmile: Cheapest Dental Insurance in CA
- Humana: Best for Discounts
- Ameritas: Best for Rewards
- MetLife TakeAlong Dental: Best for Family Plans
- Best Dental Insurance in California:
- What is Dental Insurance?
- Average Cost of Dental Insurance in California
- Types of Dental Coverage
- What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
- What Does Dental Insurance Not Cover?
- Best Dental Insurance Providers in California
- Before You Choose a New Dental Plan
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance is similar to medical insurance, except it covers cleanings, fillings, oral surgeries and other care for your teeth and gums. You pay a certain monthly rate or premium that allows you to receive services that promote good oral health and maintenance.
Coverage usually includes regular checkups, cleanings, x-rays and other services. Just like medical plans, you will pay more for some dental insurance policies than others and your deductible for services will vary based on the carrier you choose.
Some plans also may provide coverage for some types of oral surgery, orthodontia like braces and dental implants. Some plans may cover other options such as veneers to give you a prettier smile.
Average Cost of Dental Insurance in California
In California, basic coverage can range from $20 to $50 per month.
Dental insurance can save you money on the dental care you need. Whether for basic cleanings, x-rays, crowns or dentures, having dental insurance in California can make a big difference for your budget.
With dental insurance in California, you can save up to about 50% on most services. Here are some average costs of dental services with insurance in California:
Routine adult cleaning: $69 with insurance, $124 without
Root canals: $765 with insurance, $1,270 without
Dentures: $808 with insurance, $1,180 without
Partial dentures: $902 with insurance, $1,401 without
Types of Dental Coverage
Just like medical insurance plans that offer different types of coverage like HMOs and PPOs, the type of dental plan you choose can be quite different. Weigh some of these options:
Dental Health Maintenance Organization: A DHMO is similar to a health insurance HMO. These plans offer a network of dentists that accept your dental insurance plan. Some have a copay fee and others require no fee at all. But like an HMO, you may not be able to visit a dentist that is not in your network. No one can stop you from seeing an out-of-network dentist, it just means that you will have to pay the entire fee for the visit out of your own pocket.
Preferred Provider Organization: Just like with your health insurance, a PPO plan provides you with a list of dentists that will accept your plan. You will be given the option to see a dentist that is not in your PPO network, but that will mean your out-of-pocket expenses will be higher.
Managed-care plans: These plans usually have dental provider networks. California dentists who participate in these networks set pre-negotiated rates for services they provide. These dentists typically submit claims to the insurance company. With these plans, you’ll have less paperwork to complete and less out-of-pocket expenses. Managed-care plans also tend to offer more dentists for a broader range of provider choices.
Discount or referral dental plans: These types of plans offer a substantial discount on dental services a group of dentists offer. These plans are different than a PPO or DHMO because they do not pay anything for your care. You might decide on this type of plan because participating dentists offer a discount on the services and care you receive.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
Dental insurance plans typically cover a portion of the cost of cleanings, preventive care, fillings, crowns, molds, root canals and oral surgery such as having a tooth pulled.
The plans also may cover braces or orthodontics, periodontics or teeth supporting structures, prosthodontics, such as bridges and dentures or false teeth. Most dental coverage includes 2 visits per year.
What Does Dental Insurance Not Cover?
You could find it challenging to find a dental plan that will cover preexisting conditions before you enrolled. If you find that to be true, it will mean that you will have to pay out of pocket for your dental care for an issue you had beforehand.
You’ll also discover that many dental insurance plans have limits to the amounts they pay for services you may need. All plans have maximum amounts they will pay during a plan year. That is considered an annual maximum, and that means if you need more care you will have to pay for it yourself.
Many PPOs — about half of them — have maximum annual amounts of about $1,500. That means you are financially responsible for any care that costs more than that amount. Since dental care can be expensive, you don’t need many services to reach that amount, so be aware of that.
Most likely your plan may limit visits for preventive care no sooner than every 6 months, or twice per 12-month period (or twice per calendar year). You also will find your plan has restrictions on other services like flouride treatments for your children, crowns, bridges, multiple fillings on the same tooth and X-rays.
Be sure to read your policy options carefully to understand what is being offered, when you can use your plan, and how much out-of-pocket expenses are if you need to visit your dentist more often than your policy allows.
Best Dental Insurance Providers in California
Finding the best dental plan for you and your family could make getting that root canal or tooth filling a little less painful. We’ve looked at some of the best dental insurance providers in California to help you along in your search.
1. Best Overall: Delta Dental
Delta Dental doesn’t always have the cheapest prices in California, but its prices are quite affordable. Its basic plan costs about $16.40 per month for individuals, $32.47 per month for couples, and $57.39 for a family.
If you choose the basic plan, you have to pay it all in 1 payment instead of monthly installments. Delta has several customizable plans. The company, which is one of the nation’s few dental insurance companies available in all 50 states, lists its price tags for procedures and services so you don’t have to guess.
That makes it more transparent than most companies and makes it easier to budget dental expenses.
2. Cheapest Dental Insurance in California: SmartSmile
If you need cheap dental insurance coverage, at $6.95 a month the DHMO SmartSmile beats every other carrier. It offers low copays and no deductibles, claim forms or enrollment waiting period.
The company fully discloses all prices. For example, you can get your teeth cleaned for $15 twice a year, fillings for $44, a full set of dentures for $440 and a crown for $490. You can return as often as you want because SmartSmile has no annual coverage maximums.
3. Best for Discounts: Humana
Perhaps the best thing about having Humana dental coverage is the numerous discounts it offers. It gives some special discounts for combining dental and vision coverage, up to $35. You can save money on prescriptions through in-network pharmacies, get discounts on eyewear when combining a vision and dental plan.
You also can receive discounts on other services such as hearing exams and alternative medical treatments. With its Dental Loyalty Plus plan, you can choose an in-network or out-of-network dentist with a $150 1-time per person deductible, and maximum benefits increase each year up to $1,500 for 3 years or more with the same plan.
4. Best for Rewards: Ameritas
One great thing about Ameritas Dental Insurance is its rewards program, available to policyholders who submit at least 1 dental claim each year with total benefits paid out below the maximum allowable. If you qualify for rewards and visit an in-network provider, you also qualify for an additional PPO bonus.
You can earn a $2,000 per year maximum bonus, and that increases to $2,900 in the 5th year you’re with the company. If you use a preferred provider, you can receive a 30% discount on out-of-pocket expenses.
5. Best for Family Plan: MetLife TakeAlong Dental
If you need a good dental plan to cover your family, the MetLife TakeAlong Dental plan is a good option in California. The basic coverage for a family of 4 is $93.83 per month, and the comprehensive coverage is $124.25. That’s nearly $50 less than the average cost for comprehensive coverage for a family of 4.
MetLife is financially strong, and the plans include orthodontic coverage which is ideal if your family needs braces. If you need a basic individual plan for cleanings, fillings and other services, this company’s rates are among the most expensive.
Before You Choose a New Dental Plan
No matter which type of plan you choose, carefully review the policy so you know exactly what your dental insurance will cover. No one likes surprises, especially one like an expensive dental bill when you didn’t expect it. So it helps when you choose affordable dental insurance.
In most cases, your dentist’s office will be familiar with your dental insurance and policy. Most dental offices require you to pay your estimated balance upfront, so you should know what you have to pay before your visit.
If you can’t pay for it, your dentist may offer financing or give you time by allowing you to pay before your next visit. If you are changing insurance and want to continue with your current dentist, you can visit the websites of insurance companies and search to see if your dentist accepts the new type of insurance.
Sometimes these search results aren’t updated or only show offices seeking new patients, however, so you’ll want to verify by calling your dental office.
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.
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