Do you really need a dental insurance plan? Maybe you should just get a dental savings plan instead? If you’ve ever questioned what are the best dental insurance plans this article will help clarify them and help make your decision quickly.
Finding the best dental insurance can be a huge pain, especially if your employer doesn’t provide anything or you are self-employed. Plus, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn’t cover dental work like it does mandate health insurance. But just because it’s not part of the ACA or required by the government doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have dental insurance.
According to the American Dental Association, those without any dental coverage pay approximately $370 per year in out of pocket expenses for annual exams, bi-annual cleanings, and X-rays. The cost significantly goes up if you need procedures like a root canal or extensive surgery.
But, according to DentalPlans.com, “The cost for you to buy a typical individual policy is about $350 per year.” It can be a close decision to figure out if dental insurance is really worth it. Luckily, there are no shortages of different types of dental insurance plans available.
There are a lot of different factors when it comes to choosing the best dental insurance plan including:
- Where you live in the U.S.
- Your monthly budget
- Individual or family plans
- In network vs. out of network providers
- Past medical history
- Choosing between dental insurance vs. dental savings plan
Most dental insurance procedures are broken down into four different areas; preventative care, basic procedures, major procedures, and orthodontia. Preventative care is services like general cleaning, deep cleaning, and X-Rays. Basic procedures are procedures like fillings, root canals, and teeth extractions. Major procedures would be bridges, dentures, and extensive surgery. Orthodontic care is for braces to correct teeth abnormalities and more common among children.
Without a dental insurance or dental savings plan it can be very expensive if you need basic or major work done. Here are the best dental insurance plans,
3 Best Dental Insurance Plans
There are tons of different dental insurance and dental savings plans available. In my research, the most popular dental insurance plans are Delta Dental, Cigna, and Humana.
Below is a breakdown of these three plans, savings programs, most frequently asked questions, and ideas to determine if you really need dental insurance.
1. Delta Dental
Delta Dental is who I’ve personally used for the past seven years and can give nothing less than a glowing review of their services.
Full disclaimer, I’m the 1% of people who actually like going to the dentist because I found such a great practice. I also don’t mind going as I’ve only actually paid Delta for the one cavity I’ve ever had. They have very affordable and comprehensive dental insurance plans!
Delta Dental is one of the country’s best dental insurance companies with access to over 145,000 dentists in the United States. With a large number of plans and over 60 million Americans using Delta Dental, they are a trusted provider with an outstanding reputation. Their dental insurance prices are nearly unbeatable as well.
The basic care dental insurance plan is only $127 per year plus a $15 enrollment fee. The best part is that there is no deductible and no maximum amount for this plan.
Your benefits begin immediately and you aren’t capped on coverage. Even major dental work doesn’t have a waiting period! With access to such a large network of providers, it also helps lower the cost for you.
One thing that some people won’t like is that you do need to select a dentist and stick with them to avoid more charges. If you need big procedures make sure you to go to your regular dentist as it will cost you much more. Lastly, their co-pays are low $5 per visit and $20 for a regular cleaning. All of the annual x-rays and comprehensive exams are 100% covered.
Get a quote from Dental Dental today.
2. Cigna Dental Insurance
Cigna dental insurance is another major provider who has a long-standing positive reputation for their dental insurance plans. They have two great options: an individual dental insurance plan and a dental discount program which I’ll cover further in the article.
Cigna has around 70,000 dentists in the network and heavily incentivize you to choose a provider within their network. Like almost all providers, their services range from preventive, basic, and major services.
Here are the three most common plans:
Cigna Dental Preventive Plan
They have several plans including one that pays 100% of in-network diagnostic and preventive care services with no deductible. This is the most comprehensive plan and has others that allow up to $1,500 per year with a $50 deductible.
MyCigna Dental 1000
This plan has a $50 individual deductible and a family deductible for $150. It covers preventive care, restoration, and diagnostic procedures. You are allowed $1,000 worth of benefits each year (per person) and can receive orthodontic discounts if you choose an orthodontist within the network.
MyCigna Dental 1500
This plan has all the benefits of the MyCigna Dental 1000 and provides an extra $1,000 in lifetime orthodontic care as well as higher $1,500 annual limit.
Get a free quote from Cigna Dental Insurance today.
3. Humana Dental
Humana Dental is a top dental insurance provider that has plans for all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. They offer several plans that all vary with premiums, copays, and deductibles.
One of the best benefits of Human Dental Insurance is that they don’t use underwriting. This means that if you have a bad history of dental problems that it will not count against you. If you choose Humana try to stay in the network as you save a substantial amount vs. an out of network provider.
Here is a breakdown of their most popular dental insurance plans:
Humana MyOption Dental High PPO
This PPO plan helps with routine dental needs and covers a portion of more serious procedures like root canals, crowns, and dentures. There is a $50 deductible, 100% coverage on in and out of network exams plus a $1,500 maximum annual benefit.
MyOption Enhanced Dental HMO
This HMO provides full coverage for exams, cleanings, and fillings but only partial coverage for major services if you use in-network providers.
MyOption Platinum Dental
If you need more comprehensive dental work this is a great option. There is a higher, $2,000 maximum annual benefit with no deductible! Benefits include preventives, basic, and all major dental services.
If you need vision insurance as well this is a great plan that Humana offers to bundle both services. You get coverage for routine dental and vision exams as well discounts on glasses frames and contacts. There are a $50 deductible, $1,000 maximum annual limits and you have the ability to choose in or out of network providers.
Coverage starts at $21 per month and there is a one-time enrollment fee of $35. The only downside to Humana is that their plans don’t include any orthodontic procedures. Learn more about Humana and all of their dental plans at Humana.com.
Other Dental Insurance Options
While I feel these are the three best dental insurance plans there are tons of other options that might fit your family and budget better.
4. MetLife Dental
MetLife Dental offers several options from PPO plans with full-service dental for retirees to HMO plans. The MetLife 2-9 Dental plan is the most popular offered as they pre-negotiate fees within the network of dentists for over 400 different procedures.
This plan offers 100% coverage on preventative care, 80% coverage on basic care, and 50% coverage on major care plus a $50 deductible. Annual limits are like other providers, ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
5. Assurant Dental Insurance
Assurant dental offers plans for individuals, families, and retirees if you are in one of the eligible states. All of their plans have no deductible, no claim forms, and no annual maximum limit.
They also provide discounts on bonding, orthodontic procedures, whitening, and pre-existing conditions. Also, if you pay your premium annually you will save $15.
6. Principal Dental Insurance
Principal dental insurance is only offered through your employer but they do include several different plans. They have PPO’s which reward you for using in-network dentists and several different options including employer-paid.
Employers elect their contribution level up to 100% of the total amount and the plan covers all types of procedures.
7. Aetna Dental Insurance
Aetna dental insurance offers group insurance plans if you live in Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Their dental services range from basic preventative care to major services like root canals, dentures, and crows.
In addition to their normal plans, they also offer dental discount programs in 48 states (sorry Montana and Vermont residents). These discount cards start at $8 per month and can save you up to 50% off your dental work.
8. Blue Cross Dental
Blue Cross dental insurance is a very common plan among employers and also offers individual plans as well. They offer dental insurance that provides both individual dental plans as well as pediatric dental plans.
They offer two main programs:
Dental Select Basic
This program has no deductible, no maximum amounts and an office copay visit of only $10.
Healthy Dental PPO
With this dental insurance plan, there is no deductible but there is a waiting period. After the waiting period, you pay 100% of services after reaching the $1,000 maximum amount.
9. eHealth Dental Insurance
eHealth has been around for 20 years and has over 5 million customers in all 50 states making them a trusted provider. They don’t actually offer dental insurance plans but instead act as a marketplace to help facilitates as they are partnered with 180 health providers. Use their site and tools as a quick way to check and compare the best dental insurance options.
10. Aflac Dental Insurance
Aflac dental insurance is another provider that does not have underwriting which makes it easy for you to sign up. Their services range from basic cleaning, cosmetic dentistry, and even orthodontics. Another huge benefit is that you don’t have to stay within a network and pays benefits directly to policyholders instead of the dentist.
11. Ameritas Dental Insurance
Ameritas dental insurance has tons of different, customizable plans. Their most popular, “My Dental Plan,” has a $50 deductible and allows you choose between the following options:
- One or two cleaning services per year
- Preventative Care — 80% or 100%
- Basic Care — 50% coverage or 80% coverage
- Major Care: 50% or 0%
- Annual Maximum Limits: $500, $1,000, or $1,500
This is one of my favorite plans as it has a ton of different options to suit you and your families individual needs. Also, if you have had dental insurance in the past 30 days when signing up there is no waiting period.
12. Physicians Mutual Dental Insurance
Physicians Mutual provides supplemental dental insurance for both families and individuals. They have over 470,000 providers in their network! They have three basic plans; economy plus, standard plus, and preferred plus. Each option covers the same procedures but the only difference is the cost and benefit amount.
Over 350 procedures are covered as well. They also do not have any annual or lifetime maximum.
13. Costco Dental Insurance
Yes, Costco does offer dental insurance that you can sign up for after grabbing a $2 slice of pizza. Their plan covers more than 260 services with premiums starting around $0 per month with no annual maximum or deductibles. The group HMO dental plan is only available for Costco members in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
14. Guardian Dental
Guardian insurance offers life, health, and dental insurance plans. Their website makes it easy to get a quote and see how you can best utilize Guardian Dental. One of their most popular plans, DentalGuard Preferred, covers 100% of preventative and basic services. But it does have a 0% coverage on major work such a root canal, dentures or orthodontic work.
15. USAA Dental Insurance
The USAA dental insurance plans are only eligible for USAA members and their families that are active or former military. Through the USAA marketplace, you can sign up with top dental providers.
What is the Best Dental Plan?
So which dental plan should you choose? The biggest factors are your budget, past medical history, where you live, and what type of coverage you want. As everyone will have different factors my top three choices are Delta Dental, Cigna or Humana dental insurance plans.
Check with several of them to receive free quotes and find out what best dental insurance plan works for you. If you still aren’t sold on the best dental insurance plans there is another option known as dental savings plans.
What are Dental Savings Plans?
Dental savings plans allow you to save with certain dentists because you are a member. Dental savings plans are not dental insurance. Make sure you understand which one you enroll in as it can be a costly mistake.
The main benefit is that you can save up to 50% on basic procedures at a fraction of the cost of dental insurance. Most dental savings plans range around $10 per month while most insurance is triple that rate. Be sure to check if there is a one time or annual enrollment fee as well.
Cigna Dental Savings
The Cigna dental savings plan is a great program to give you discounts and access their large network of dentists. The discounts are substantial and can allow you to save between 10 and 60% of your services depending on the services. The rate is $96 per year and is also a great way to save for families and seniors. Additionally, they have bonuses like identity theft protection and even offer discounts on vision, prescriptions, and hearing care.
Humana Dental Savings
Human Dental savings plans start at $8.99 per month with some states requiring a $15 one-time enrollment fee. Prices will vary by the region and dentist that you select as well. Human dental allows you to select any in-network dentists and make payments directly to the dentist for a discounted rate.
They also offer additional discounts on hearing, vision, and prescriptions. Additionally, they also provide discounts of up to 30% on acupuncture and massage therapy treatments!
DentalPlans.com will help you get savings from 10% to 60% on most dental procedures. They have no wait times and no limits as well! You simply go the dentist of your choice in their network and get the services you need.
The sign-up process is quick and almost always accepted within 24 hours-72 hours at the most. Prices start at just $10 per month!
Careington Dental Savings
Unlike other providers that offer both dental insurance dental savings, Careington only offers discount programs. You are responsible for a monthly or annual premium for your plan that is as low as $9 per month or $89 if paid annually.
There are only around 5,000 dentists in the network but their discounts are usually around 50% on preventative care with smaller discounts on major procedures. The main reason to choose Careington is that the fees are low, there are no limits on coverage, and no paperwork.
Common Questions about Dental Insurance
Will smoking affect my dental insurance rates?
Similar to the two basic types of life insurance policies, smoking can play a big role in determining your monthly premium. Typically if you have smoked in the last five years it can increase your rates. The main reason for the increased rate is that gum disease and more dental issues are directly related to smoking and chewing tobacco.
Can I get work done at dental schools for a discount?
Yes, this is a great way to save money for dental work. Dental students need to practice their procedures before they become qualified dentists. If you’re worried about quality, don’t worry — they have licensed dentists standing by observing the procedures.
I would recommend primarily using dental schools for routine procedures like checkups, x-rays, teeth cleaning, teeth whitening or cavity fillings. Major services like root canals and crowns might not be as easy and extremely time-consuming for new dentists.
Be prepared to spend significantly more time at the dental school vs. the office as they are learning throughout the procedures. Also, be sure to check with your insurance provider to see if this work is covered as not all dental plans allow it.
Are there any government programs for dental insurance?
Some states do help provide affordable dental insurance if you are unable to pay yourself. Check out the National Association of Dental and Craniofacial Research or the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors for more information.
Why doesn’t dental insurance cover all expenses after a deductible is met?
Unlike health insurance, dental insurance plans have an annual benefit ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 per person. Health insurance is also much more expensive for members which is why they are very different than dental insurance.
What to Look For in Dental Insurance
When you start shopping for the best dental insurance plans it’s important to understand all the terms that are associated with each plan.
Here is the most common one you’ll encounter:
Annual Enrollment Fees
Some plans have annual enrollment fees which are charged each year your account renews with the provider. The fees can range from different providers and some offer no annual enrollment fee. Others, like Humana charges only the first year. While the fee is generally less than $50 per year make sure it is worth it.
Your dental insurance monthly premium will vary depending on if the plan is for individuals or families, type of coverage, and level of coverage. If your plans are for families and include major dental work you will pay the highest monthly premium. With most providers, you do receive a discount if the policy is paid annually, in advance.
Deductibles & Co-Pays
You will also want to understand what each plan’s deductible and copays are for different procedures. For example, some plans only have copays for certain procedures like preventative care vs. basic or major care procedures.
Similar to my post on pet insurance, dental insurance providers only cover a portion of the procedures. They are usually based on the type of work as major dental can be thousands of dollars.
- Preventative Care: 70 – 100% coverage
- Basic Care: 30-70% coverage
- Major Dental Care: 0-50% coverage
Additionally, a lot of plans give you more coverage the longer you are enrolled in their services. When you enroll to make sure to see if there is a specific period where a larger percentage is covered.
Limits on Specific Dental Procedures
Some dental insurance providers will limit the amount or type of procedures. This could include a certain number of filing, x-rays, or major procedures such as crowns. Additionally, almost all plans have a specific waiting period for major dental procedures.
Cleaning and Preventative Care
A lof the plans mentioned above cover 100% of all general cleaning and preventative care procedures. Most plans offer at least 70% but I recommend finding a plan with 100% full coverage on cleaning and preventative care.
Choosing the Right Network
This is one of the biggest factors for choosing dental insurance. Make sure there are plenty of providers within the network so you can make finding a dentist as easy as possible. Be sure to review the fee differences from in-service to out of service as it can be a huge difference.
For example, some of the Humana dental plans cover 100% of dentists within the network and only 50% of out of network providers. Be sure to check and double check with them to make sure all procedures are from an in-network provider.
Do I Really Need Dental Insurance?
I wish there was a one size fits all answer. Unlike health insurance, dental insurance is not required by the government. Dental insurance can save you big if you need orthodontic work or have an unexpected emergency procedure like a root canal. If you only got one or two times per year it’s not nearly as important.
If you don’t use the insurance to the fullest the monthly premium may be way more than the treatments you are receiving. For example, let’s say you only go twice a year for basic teeth cleaning procedures. The cost is around $80 dollars per visit for a total of $160. But the average dental monthly premium is $30 or $360 annually — clearly not worth the costs. Of course, you can’t plan for unexpected events like root canals or crowns.
Dental insurance is usually a great option for children and seniors. Medicare is very limited with their choices and root canals or dentures can be very expensive. The main thing you want to evaluate is current health, maximum limits, and how it affects your monthly budget. If you need some more income to offset costs be sure to check out these side hustles to start making money today.
Preventative dental care can help you save money in the future by spotting problems early and dealing with them before major work is needed. I recommend having some sort of dental savings plan if you’re on a tight budget or basic dental insurance for your routine cleanings.
Some years you might not use much of the insurance for such a cheap rate I think it’s better to be protected in case an expensive procedure is needed.