Best Dental Insurance 2017
Compare the best dental insurance companies, affordable dental insurance, and insurance alternatives based on reviews from dentists and consumers like you.
Dental health can be very expensive, especially if you don’t have access to insurance through your job. When your budget is limited, a plan with low premiums might be best, but this will usually mean higher deductibles. It's important to consider whether your coverage needs are just for preventive care, or if you might also need major procedures and orthodontia. In some cases, a dental savings plan might actually be the most cost effective solution.
Another thing to take into account is where you will go for care, since dental insurance typically comes in different plan options depending on who you can get treatment from. For example, some plans will only cover your primary dentist and in-network providers, whereas others will allow you to visit any health-care professional you wish. When shopping around for a plan, remember to also look at the exact costs incurred with each different policy, in terms of premiums, deductibles, co-insurance copays, and waiting periods.
Top 10 Companies
- Unlimited Use
- Pre-Existing Conditions Included in Plan Savings
- Plans Start at $99/Year for Discounted Rates on Dental Procedures
- 100,000+ Dental Access Points Nationwide
- A+ Grade with the BBB
- Voted #1 in Ethics by Dallas Morning News
- Discount Dental Plan (Not Insurance)
- Highly competitive prices from most major providers including Delta Dental
- Dental indemnity plan
- More than 200 licensed agents
- 24/7 Live Chat Support
- Online Account Management
- Savings of 20%-60% on dental procedures, including cleanings, braces, dentures, crowns and more.
- No limits on use, everyone is accepted
- Over 67,000 participating dentists
- 25% off Promo Code: CJ25
- No waiting period for discounted services
- Details vary by state. Easy Online Quotes!
- Available from our partner eHealth Dental Insurance
- Network of more than 145,000 dentists and 292,000 office locations
- Serves 60 million, 1/3 of the entire American public
- Delta Dental companies processed 93 million dental claims in 2012 alone with an accuracy rate of 99.7 percent
- Also available from our partner eHealthInsurance.com
- One of the largest provider networks
- Over 83,000 providers @ more than 171,000 locations nationwide
- 2.5 day average processing time and 99% accuracy rate
- Average discounts 30%
- More than 191,000 participating network dentists nationwide
- No waiting period for dental benefits on certain services for groups
- Non-insurance discount on prescriptions
- Specializes in Individual and family dental insurance
- Plans also cover vision
- No need to choose a primary dentist
- No referrals needed for specialist care
- No claims submissions. Cigna network dentists submit claims automatically
- Access to over 72,000 dentists in their network
How We Compare Dental Insurance
Most dental insurance coverage breaks down into four distinct classes, based on the necessity, severity and complexity of the work needed. Your portion of the cost depends on which class the procedure is categorized as by your insurance provider. Outlining dental insurance coverage can be confusing, because a dental procedure may be considered Class I under one provider’s policies, but be considered a Class II or III by another. Let’s take a look at how these service classes usually break down.
Class I (Preventive Care): This would include basic preventive dental care measures, such as periodic exams, general cleaning, deep cleaning, X-rays, sealants (sometimes dependent upon age), and fluoride treatments. This type of care is 100% covered by most insurance providers, and usually includes up to two visits per year.
Class II (Basic Procedures): Common examples of Class II procedures would be fillings, tooth extractions, root canals, anesthesia and periodontics (gum disease treatment). However, root canals are considered a Class III procedure by about half of the Top 10 companies, so if you are prone to certain dental issues, it’s critical to make sure you know how that particular treatment is covered. How much of the cost will be covered also depends on the provider and how the procedure is categorized, but basic procedures are commonly covered 80% by the insurance company (after the deductible).
Class III (Major Procedures): Common major procedures would be crowns, bridges, dentures (partial or complete), extensive oral surgeries, and any necessary implants. Again, some of these could be classified as Class II, depending on the plan or insurance provider. Major procedures are usually 50% covered by insurance.
Class IV (Orthodontia): Orthodontic care involves the use of devices, such as braces, to correct abnormalities of the teeth and jaw. This type of coverage is highly variable by provider, and there is usually an age limit in place (commonly, dependents age 19 and younger are eligible). Check with specific insurance companies for more information on orthodontia coverage.
Another important factor to research are the benefit limits on the insurance. With both high and low-end dental plans, there is almost always an annual maximum payout per-person, per-benefit period (usually January through December).This means that once the maximum amount has been reached, any additional dental care costs must be paid out of pocket until the beginning of the new policy year. The annual maximum varies based on the provider and the plan you select, but it’s commonly between $1,000 to $1,500. Many companies offer multiple plans, and the plans with higher premiums also tend to have higher annual maximum payouts.
Dental insurance providers also usually have waiting periods in effect for coverage. Most of the Top 10 insurance companies have no waiting period for preventive, Class I care. A 12-month waiting period for coverage on Class III procedures is common, but many companies also have waiting periods before Class II coverage takes effect, usually ranging from three to six months. However, a few companies have no waiting periods at all.
It’s important to enquire about the waiting periods before selecting a plan so you don't find yourself in a situation where you need a procedure immediately and find out it's not covered for three months. Any and all benefit limits will be outlined in the service contract, so read it carefully before purchasing any insurance.
Dental insurance typically comes in the form of three different plan options: dental health maintenance organization (DHMO), preferred provider organization (PPO, also referred to as a participating dental network, or PDN), or an indemnity plan. Most of the Top 10 insurance companies offer DHMO and PPO plans, and all but one offer indemnity plans as well. You should select a plan based on the providers (dentists) you want to choose from, and what you can afford to pay.
Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO): A DHMO tends to be a lower-cost benefits and insurance plan. You are required to choose one dentist or dental facility as your primary care provider, and you must choose from in-network providers only. A typical DHMO plan doesn’t have any deductibles or maximums. You pay a fixed dollar amount for any covered treatment, which is a copay. However, if the procedure is not covered by a copay, you are responsible for all of the cost. All care must be administered by your primary care provider, otherwise the procedure won’t be covered. If you take good care of your teeth and don’t need to use insurance very often, this is often the most cost-effective plan because you pay lower premiums and don’t have to pay a deductible. However, should you have a dental emergency, you could be stuck with the entire bill.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): Dental PPO plans offer the freedom to visit any licensed dentist to receive benefits, but with typically lower costs if you choose an in-network dentist. Services are rendered based on your deductible amount and your coinsurance percentages, in addition to your monthly premiums. These plans can cost more in the long-run than a DHMO plan due to the higher premiums, but you’re offered more comprehensive dental care.
Indemnity: Also known as a fee-for-service option, these plans offer the greatest choice of dentists, as you can visit any dentist you want. Like PPO plans, you typically pay a deductible, and then a fixed percentage for each service and the plan pays the rest. However, participating PPO providers usually offer discounts on procedures not covered by your plan. You do not have this option with an indemnity plan, so it’s possible you’ll end up paying more in addition to the high premiums.
With all three of these plans, how well it works for you will likely depend on how many in-network providers the company has in your area. Most of the Top 10 companies have over 100,000 network locations, which gives you the freedom of choice. Companies with smaller networks will likely have fewer options if you live in an area where their network is lacking. This is why it is important to enquire about network providers before choosing a plan.
Additionally, dental insurance providers a often have plans for individuals, couples and families if you are looking to cover others.
When selecting a dental insurance provider, always consider their customer service. Insurance can be complicated and difficult to understand, which is why it’s important that providers make it as easy as possible for their customers. Services to look for are:
Direct pay to your dental care provider - Once the dental insurance company has paid their portion, you receive a bill with the remaining balance.
Online customer portal - You should be able to submit and track any open claims, and review or refer to previous ones
Communication options - Besides the standard e-mail and phone options, check if the provider also has live chat functionality. Some companies still allow for regular mail or faxes, but this can be restricted to specific items or procedures.
Do some solid research into a company’s customer service record before committing, because a company that values their customer’s time and money as much as their own should be respected.
The total cost for dental insurance varies greatly, as there are many factors involved, such as premiums, deductibles, coinsurance and copays.
Dental insurance premiums are a fixed monthly cost. This is an easily predictable expense that you can budget for, as they usually fall somewhere in the $25 to $50 for individual plans. The other costs, however, are not as straightforward.
Deductibles are the amount you pay for dental care services before your insurance kicks in. Let’s say your plan’s deductible is $100. That means for most services, you will pay all costs until the amount reaches $100. After that, you share the cost by paying coinsurance and/or copays.
Coinsurance is your share of the costs of a dental service. As we outlined earlier, Class I services are 100% covered by most of the top 10 insurance companies. However, with Class II and III procedures, you are responsible for a certain percentage of the costs that exceed your deductible. For example, if you have a root canal performed and that procedure qualifies for 80% coverage from the insurance company, the other 20% is your responsibility. This is your coinsurance, and that amount varies greatly based on the extent of the services performed.
Copays are an option that can be instead of, or in addition to, coinsurance. A copay is a fixed amount you pay for a dental care service directly to your provider, usually when you receive the service. If you go in for a checkup, you may be responsible for a copay, which usually ranges from $15 to $30, but it may be more like $250 for a visit to an emergency clinic. Copays are usually paid per-office visit, but this really only applies to DHMO plans. PPO and indemnity plans generally only have deductibles and coinsurance in addition to your premiums.
With so many dental insurance options to choose from, reading reviews from consumers who have experience with these companies can be a great way to help you decide. Here are a few things to look for when looking over reviews.
- Statistical Significance: Make sure the number of reviews posted is significant. If there are only a handful of reviews, the overall rating is going to mean a lot less than if there are 1,000 reviews. The higher the number of reviews, the more accurate and useful that overall score is going to be for helping you make a decision.
- Word Sentiment: Take a few minutes to scan some reviews for words that stand out. Is the overall tone of the review positive or negative? In addition to star ratings, scanning for specific words can be a great way to get a sense of how satisfied or dissatisfied customers are with the companies you are researching.
- Customer Care: If the insurance company has the chance to respond to feedback from customers, do they? Do the companies you are looking at make the effort to resolve individual complaints? When a company reaches out to customers whether the review is positive or negative, this is a good indicator that they will likely value your business as well. If the company does not respond directly, do reviewers mention how responsive the company was to their concerns?
- Learn from other people’s mistakes: When you see negative comments about a dental insurance provider, think about how the problem could have been avoided. For instance, if the issue was because someone didn’t fully understand the coverage outlined in the contract, take the time to review the contract before signing. If the problem was clearly the fault of the insurance company, and they made no visible effort to resolve the issue, this could be a red flag.
Customer Questions & Answers
What should I consider when choosing a dental plan?
There is no single "best" dental plan. Some plans will be better than others for you and your family's needs, so there are a few factors to take into consideration when shopping around. First, how much will it cost on a monthly basis? If your budget is limited, a plan with low premiums could be a good option. However, keep in mind that low premiums usually means higher deductibles, so if you need a dental procedure that falls outside of basic preventive care, you may have to pay a significant amount of money before your insurance kicks in.
Another important thing to consider is where you will go for care. Do you already have a primary care dentist? If not, are there enough in-network dentists in your area? Do you already know you'll need to see a specialist as well? More options often means more money, so your current dental situation can have a major impact on your ultimate insurance decision.
If my insurance doesn't cover the entire cost of the procedure, how much will I pay?
Your payment portion will vary according to the coinsurance of your plan, your maximum annual benefit, and other factors like deductibles or copays.
Coinsurance is your portion of the bill not covered by the insurance company. For instance, if the insurance provider will cover 80% of the procedure cost, your coinsurance is the remaining 20%. The maximum benefit is the total amount the insurance company will pay out during the policy year, which for most policies, is between $1,000 to $1,500 per person. Some plans have deductibles, or an amount of money you pay out-of-pocket for dental care before insurance coverage begins. Some plans may also have copays, or a flat fee paid to your dentist for each visit.
Ultimately, your portion of the bill will not be known until the claim has been approved and insurance has paid your dental care provider. However, you can get a good idea by asking your dentist for a cost estimate for the procedures you'll need, checking your policy for the percentage of coverage your dental insurance will cover, and calculating any deductibles or copayments.
Does dental insurance cost less if I buy directly from the insurance company?
Not necessarily. Typically, dental insurance companies charge the same premium whether the plan is purchased directly from the company, through a broker, or online through the marketplace.
However, if you're looking for a lower cost plan, it may be worth asking your employer. Many times dental insurance is a benefit offered by employers. Employers are able to get bulk policies from insurance providers at a lower rate than individual policies. Another option to consider if you're looking to get dental coverage for multiple family members is a family or couples plan, which are also available from most dental insurance companies.