Your Employer Doesn’t Pay for Dental Insurance - Is it Worth Buying?

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Only 40% of private companies offer dental benefits to their employees, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re one of the 77 million American adults without dental insurance, you have choices: Pay full price for dental care, or purchase some type of dental plan from the private market. Figuring out which option is right for you can be a challenge. Here are three things to consider:

What Dental Treatments do you Need and When? 

If you know you need expensive dental care, such as a root canal, crown or dental implant, get the cost from your dentist and then carefully check the details of any insurance plans you are considering. You can ask the plan provider — or the insurance broker — whether the treatments you need would be covered if you purchase the plan. 

Dental insurance doesn’t always provide immediate cost savings in every situation and may not cover certain treatments for pre-existing conditions. This can vary according to the type of coverage, and how recently you were insured, so it’s important to get all the details.

How Much Does Private Dental Insurance Cost? 

For a single person, dental insurance will typically cost around $600 per year — this fee is called your monthly premium. Your premium varies according to the type of plan you choose. For example, insurance that covers only preventive care (checkups, cleanings, basic X-rays) will often have a lower premium than one that includes coverage for restorative care. Dental insurance also often has a yearly deductible of about $50 per person and an annual limit on coverage — usually around $1,000 to $1,500. If you want to maintain healthy teeth and gums, you can pay out of pocket for your dental care after you hit your annual limit, until your plan resets.

Talk to your dentist to determine what plans they accept and which one they may recommend for you based on your current dental health. Many dentists accept both traditional insurance and alternatives.

What are Some Alternatives to Dental Insurance?

Paying full price: If you decide you’re comfortable paying full price for your dental care, consider setting aside money each month to fund your annual dental care costs. Skipping dental care is dangerous to your oral and overall health, so make sure that you have a way to comfortably pay for preventive care like your routine checkups and cleanings that typically cost* $150 to $200 per visit as well as any restorative or emergency care, such as crowns, bridges, root canals or treatment for a cracked tooth or gum infection.

Joining a dental savings plan: An increasingly popular option, these plans are an affordable alternative to dental insurance with several unique advantages. Plan members can save 10% to 60% on most dental procedures at a nationwide network of dentists, with member surveys indicating an average savings of 50%. 

While dental insurance has premiums, deductibles, annual spending limits and pre-existing condition restrictions, dental savings plans do not. They work like a warehouse club membership — plan members pay once a year and then receive discounts every time they go to the dentist. The average cost* of a dental savings plan is $134 for an individual and $189 for a family for a full year.

Healthy teeth and gums are essential for your overall wellness. If your employer does not pay for dental insurance, you can still get affordable dental care. Use the guide above to determine whether privately purchased dental insurance or an alternative such as a dental savings plan makes the most sense for your needs and budget. 

*Cost average obtained from procedure search tool.

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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