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Dental Savings Plan vs. Dental Insurance: What's Better?

Health insurance is one of the most important things seniors must consider as they transition into retirement. That said, dental care for seniors may be neglected or taken for granted as it is rarely included in medical insurance plans. Seniors then have to choose the right dental service providers or plans to fill in this gap and to maintain good oral health.

Poor dental health can lead to numerous diseases — from malnutrition to gingivitis and even pneumonia. Since oral health can worsen with age, especially with a lack of resources, we will help break down your choices in terms of dental savings plans and dental insurance to find the option that works best for you.

What Are Dental Savings Plans?

Dental savings plans are programs that allow you to make the most out of discounts and savings when it comes to dental care. These benefits programs require you to pay for a membership fee instead of premiums as you would with an insurance plan. Upon paying for services at the dentist, you can show them your savings card for discounts on your services.

The Basics Of Dental Savings Plans For Seniors

As an alternative to dental insurance, dental savings plans require you to pay a set amount to take advantage of discounts every time you need a dental check-up or service. When you pay a fixed annual fee — which typically ranges from $100-300 if it’s an individual or family plan — you can access these discounts at dental clinics that accept dental savings plans. 

This option can give you up to around 60% savings for procedures, making it much more cost-effective than dental insurance. There are very minimal barriers to entry in purchasing a dental savings plan, but bear in mind that expenses are still all paid out-of-pocket, just at a discounted price. 

Common providers for dental savings plans include:

Caps

Dental savings plans do not have annual caps, as membership fees for obtaining discounts are already set. All other costs are paid out-of-pocket at a discounted rate.

Deductibles

Dental savings plans do not have deductibles due to their predetermined membership fees.

Reimbursement

When you purchase a dental savings plan, you can activate and start using it in as little as 72 hours. 

The Benefits Of Dental Savings Plans For Seniors

Dental savings plans may be the option for you if you want to make regular dental procedures more budget-friendly. With less annual fees and the fact that you only pay for services as needed, this may be the best path to take for some individuals. 

  • Dental savings plans are accepted by several dentists nationwide, so you simply need to call in to check how to comply.
  • There are no waiting periods, no annual maximums, and no deductibles for dental savings plans. 
  • You can receive around 10-60% in discounts for different dental procedures across the board.
  • Discounts can cover everything across the board, from cleanings to checkups, dentures, crowns, root canals, dental implants, and other procedures.

What Is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is a kind of health insurance and even functions similarly as you pay monthly premiums. When the deductible has been reached, dental insurance will absorb the costs of your dental expenses up until a certain maximum. In most cases, your insurance provider pays the dentist for these dental expenses.

The Basics Of Dental Insurance For Seniors

Dental insurance costs may be pegged at around $350-550 annually, depending on it being an individual or family policy. You will usually be billed monthly for dental insurance. Dental insurance is not usually included in your regular health insurance due to the differing nature of risks involved. 

With waiting periods, copays, deductibles, and policy maximums, dental insurance may not be the ideal option for those who need immediate assistance. The three common dental insurance plans are:

The first is composed of dentists who work with insurance companies at an agreed-upon fee. With the second, insurance companies pay dentists on the plan monthly, giving you discounts on services or at no cost at all. The last option allows you to see any dentist and receive full coverage, albeit with the highest premiums.

Caps

Most dental insurance plans have a cap for the amount to be reimbursed as an annual maximum. This figure is typically between $1,000-1,500 annually. When this has been hit, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for any other expenses.

Deductibles 

In many cases, you have to meet your plan’s deductible before your plan can cover any service or procedure. Depending on the policy, deductibles may be $25-50 annually.

Reimbursement

With dental insurance plans, there are often long waiting periods prior to a big procedure or simply exclusions for coverage on some procedures. Issues related to reimbursement for dental insurance usually stem from these waiting periods, exclusions for certain services, and management of written claims.

The Benefits Of Dental Insurance For Seniors

Dental insurance may be the plan for you if you are the type of person who likes to think ahead and have the assurance that you will be secured no matter what. If you have more money to spare, you may also opt for dental insurance.

  • Dental insurance can be the most cost-effective for bigger procedures such as implants, dentures, or root canals. 
  • Coverage with dental insurance can hit up to 100% of full coverage, depending on the procedure.
  • Having dental insurance may urge you to see a dentist more regularly since fees for preventive visits and regular check-ups are likely already covered.
  • Dental insurance can encourage you to maintain better oral health overall, as you will want to go for routine visits due to the amount that you pay.

How Do You Choose Between Dental Savings Plans And Dental Insurance? 

Before jumping in directly to pick either of these options, here are some factors to consider to aid in your decision:

  • Inquire about what your current dentist accepts so that you know if you can keep seeing them depending on your chosen insurance or dental savings plan.
  • Think about whether you need to obtain certain services immediately or not — dental savings may be the way to go if urgency is an important factor in your situation.
  • Consider the number of people on the plan — dental insurance may be ideal for families or those with multiple people.
  • Think carefully about your current budget and how much you are willing to shell out for your dental care upfront and in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions

To help you decide which path to take, here are some of the most frequently asked questions about dental savings plans and dental insurance.

Can you have two dental savings plans?

You can have two dental savings plans, and this is what is known as dual coverage. Benefits will not be doubled, but instead, you can lessen your out-of-pocket expenses. Carriers will work together to determine the amount to be paid.

How much does a dentist visit cost without insurance?

A regular trip to the dentist for cleaning cost $75-200. Prices can increase if x-rays are needed or if patients need more thorough cleanings.

Do dental savings plans cover fillings?

Dental savings plans cover fillings, as this is classified as a type of basic treatment.

What is the difference between a high and low dental plan?

High dental plans or high coverage levels mean that you may have to pay higher premiums but get lower deductibles and copayments. Conversely, low coverage levels mean lower premiums but higher deductibles as well as copayments.

Is dental insurance cheaper than paying out of pocket?

If a procedure is more complicated and expensive, you may end up paying more out-of-pocket with a savings plan than you would with dental insurance. This is because your policy can often cover 100% of services or procedures until its stated maximum.

Take time considering which of these two options suits your needs best so that you can get one step closer towards better senior dental care. Check out some of our previous articles on senior health plans to ensure that your retirement planning covers all the necessary bases. Contact Senior Strong today for more information!

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