Many people mistakenly assume that all their dental needs are covered by their health insurance plans. While many health insurance plans - most notably HMOs - may offer some dental coverage, most of your dental needs won't be covered by the typical health insurance plan. In fact, you may even find that a dental insurance plan only goes so far in covering your true dental costs. Supplemental dental insurance can help cover your out of pocket expenses, or lower your dental costs with participation in various dental plans.
Supplemental dental insurance is not meant to be your primary dental insurance. Rather, it's meant to help cover the costs associated with your dental needs which may not be covered by your primary health or dental coverage. There are several varieties of dental insurance supplement plans, but they fall under a few broad categories.
Dental Discount Plans
A dental discount plan is designed to lower dental costs by leveraging the large number of their members to negotiate lower prices for their members. Discount dental plans aren't actually dental insurance, but they do lower your dental costs by passing the savings on to you. You save money by getting your dental care and serviced provided by their member dentists. When you pay, you present your dental discount plan member card, and are billed at the discounted price for members. A discount dental plan can cost as little as $5 per month per person covered.
Discounted Student Dental Plans
Because college students often lose dental and health coverage on their parents' dental plans when they reach 18, many colleges have opted to provide discounted student dental plans for their registered students. Generally, the discounted plans provide limited benefits such as cleanings, x-rays, fluoride treatments, routine fillings and emergency dental treatment for pain relief. The services may be entirely paid for by the supplemental dental insurance policy, or may involve a small co-payment. Costs for student supplemental dental insurance are generally low, from $125-$175 per student.
Dental Insurance Preferred Provider Network
One popular type of dental insurance plan is a preferred provider network. With a preferred provider plan, you can choose from any dentist who is a member of the network for your dental care - and switch dentists whenever you like. The dental insurance plan pays a fixed flat fee for any service provided, and you pay the rest. Cost is generally $15-20 per month.