Do you have dental insurance? As the Mayo Clinic points out, not caring for your teeth and mouth can lead to other serious health problems, including endocarditis, diabetes, and even, for pregnant women, premature births and low-birth-weight infants.
According to a 2016 report by the American Dental Association Health Policy Institute, the average annual spending by each American on routine dental care in 2013 was $685, and this rose to $1,755 with specialist visits.
Many Americans have dental insurance through their employer, but others either don’t carry it or limit dental visits to serious problems. Unfortunately, some people skimp on regular cleaning and avoid annual dental x-rays, skipping the important preventive care that may reduce future health difficulties. A variety of dental plans are available to those without employer-provided dental coverage; basic plans require copays and generally cover two cleanings per year. Fillings and bridges are subject to a deductible, and plans usually cap coverage at a preset annual limit. Here is some information on other types of plans:
- HMO and PPO plans require copays and may limit you to a specific list of dentists. Most PPO plans encourage you to visit provider dentists and reduce coverage for non-network dentist visits.
- Dental discount plans that allow you to visit selected dentists at discounted rates are an alternative to dental insurance.
- Dental indemnity (traditional) plans allow you to visit any dentist and typically cover 50% to 80% of the cost. You pay for services, and the insurer reimburses you directly. These plans also are more likely to offer orthodontic coverage.
- Medicare doesn’t cover most dental procedures, unless you receive certain dental services while hospitalized. If you’re over 65, seriously consider obtaining a quote for a dental plan.
Not sure what you need? Contact your insurance agent. He or she can provide a no-obligation quote and explain the pros and cons of various dental plans. Your overall health will thank you.