There are many dental programs available in today’s market, but few consumers realize that many of the options available are in fact discount plans and are not to be confused with insurance. Although it is not their intention, the majority of advertisements can be misleading and influence purchasing decisions that may later result in regret. Therefore, it is important for individuals to understand the differences between the various programs available.
Dental insurance is provided by an insurance company and is designed very similar in fashion to health insurance. The insurer pays money directly to the providing dentists and the patient pays their co-pay before leaving the office. Discount dental plans are previously made arrangements with certain providers that allow a patient to only pay a certain rate for particular services. The company that manages the dental plan does not pay anything directly to the dentists.
There are typically maximum amounts, deductibles, and limitations associated with dental insurance. A consumer may be limited to certain procedures and the coverage may not extend to certain cosmetic or elective services like teeth whitening. Dental discount plans, however, can normally offer a reduced rate on practically anything that a provider has to offer. Because the consumer is paying a discounted price and not relying on an insurance company to approve a service, the procedures are only limited by an individual’s ability to pay. The fact that there is no approval process also means that there are no pre-existing conditions that would prevent a patient from using a discount dental plan.
Dental insurance plans normally have a lengthy claims process that may or may not be handled by the dentist’s office. Some dental insurers require that the patient fill out extensive forms and submit them for reimbursement. Dental discount plans simply provide a card to their members that will be shown at time of service and the resulting fee will be paid immediately. There is no additional paperwork to file with a discount dental plan and no claims procedures that must be followed.
There are many options available to an individual or family seeking dental coverage, but it is imperative that the differences between dental insurance and dental discount plans are understood before shopping. Both types of programs have their advantages and disadvantages and it is necessary to carefully review all of the benefits that are being offered and check for available providers in a convenient location.
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