The connection between good oral health and disease prevention is well documented. But many of us still consider a visit to the dentist as something we do only when toothache pain becomes unbearable.
While regular checkups have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke, we continue to place a lower priority on dental care. At issue is the cost of regular preventive care and treatment, which is why many people purchase dental insurance.
Dental insurance is available through group or individual plans. Plans fall into three main categories: Indemnity Insurance, which allows you to select your own dentist, as well as Preferred Provider and Health Managed Organization plans. In the latter two you are effectively assigned to one participating dentist or dental clinic; if you chose to go outside the plans, you may have to pay the difference in cost yourself.
For your premium dollar you generally have access to both preventive care and treatment, including regular cleanings, X-rays and fillings, as well as oral surgery (noncosmetic) and emergency care.
However, dental plans vary widely and you need to be sure the policy you select will meet your needs. You’ll also want to look closely at maximums and out-of-pocket costs.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has made changes that affect dental coverage, but primarily as it relates to children enrolled in certain plans. It appears there is little impact on adult dental care coverage.
Your insurance professional will help you sort through your options.