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Let’s face it — shopping for dental coverage is like having to get a tooth pulled. We all dread it, but luckily you have some pretty painless options available online to help you find the best and most affordable dental plans for you and your family in our best dental insurance review.
Many companies offer both insurance and savings plans (also called discount cards), but there are some significant differences between the two. Deciding between these two options really depends on your individual needs.
If you require immediate coverage for a procedure, you’ll have to opt for a savings plan. Discount plans can also make more financial sense if you don’t anticipate any dental needs other than routine exams and cleanings.
Dental insurance, however, saves you a ton of out-of-pocket expense for unexpected major procedures. In this case, if you have a savings plan, you’ll still end up paying a lot in dental charges on top of your plan cost.
|Dental Insurance Plans||Dental Savings Plans|
|Coverage Begins In:||A Month (or Longer)||2-3 Days|
|Average Annual Cost For Individual Plan||$350||$170|
|Average Annual Deductible For Individual||$50||None|
|What You Pay For Dental Procedures Out-Of-Pocket||0-20%||50-85%|
|Average Annual Maximum Caps||$1,000-$1,500||None|
|Waiting Period for Major Procedures (Root Canal, etc.)||Varies From None to 12 Months||None|
|Waiting Period Between Cleanings||6 Months||None|
If you have many expensive dental procedures you know you’ll need over the next year, a dental discount plan can sometimes be a better investment than insurance. Check out this video featuring Suze Orman to learn more.
You can only use a discount plan once you’ve reached the annual maximum on your dental insurance plan, but some dentists won’t accept both for the same procedure.
For example, if you only have $50 left to hit your annual maximum, but you require a procedure that’s $200, you wouldn’t be able to use your discount card to cover the remaining expenses for that procedure.
You can find dental insurance no matter what state you live in, but not all insurance plans are available in all states. That’s partly why the sites we review here come in handy when you’re searching for coverage.
Dental insurance typically pays for 80-100% of routine exams and cleanings every 6 months. Coverage varies for complex procedures. Some plans also include orthodontics for kids under 18.
Dental insurance policies fall into a few categories, and it’s important to know the differences between the types of plans.1
|Type Of Dental Plan:||Dentist Choice||Out-Of-Pocket Cost|
|PPO or DPPO||Fewer Limitations: Not required to visit in-network dentists but DPPO in-network dentists will have lowest out-of-pocket costs.||Copayment: Pay a copayment for procedures. Require you to reach a deductible and have a maximum.|
|HMO||Very Limited: Choose one dentist or facility. Out of network procedures will not be covered.||Coinsurance: No deductibles or maximum. You pay a copayment for certain procedures. Some procedures are zero out-of-pocket costs.|
|Indemnity||Fewer Limitations: Large choice of dentists.||Copayment + Fee: Pay a copayment for procedures. Additional fee for the dentist since they are not reimbursed.|
|Discount Plans||No Limitations on network||Discounted Fee: Reduced fee-for-service is completely out-of-pocket. No deductible or maximum.|
If you’re starting out from scratch and trying to nail down your options, we’d recommend going with an online dental plan marketplace.
What is an “online marketplace?” They’re websites that serve as insurance brokers who earn commission for the provider referrals they provide consumers.
The best insurance marketplace websites are fully licensed to offer you discounted dental insurance and dental savings plans from partnerships with a wide variety of major carriers across the country.
You can compare price quotes, coverage details, plan options and purchase a dental plan all through these sites. They even provide customer service experts to help you choose the best plan for your needs.
Best Dental Insurance
Here are our picks for the best dental plan marketplace websites.
eHealth (formerly eHealthInsurance) is the popular, federally-approved insurance marketplace alternative to Healthcare.gov. Here you can find health, dental, vision and package insurance plans from all the top providers across the country.
Despite the wealth of offerings, this site is easy to use and has fantastic search features. You can connect with eHealth’s licensed customer support agents 24/7 for any assistance you need.
DentalInsurance.com was the first site to enable individuals to both comparison-shop and apply for dental insurance and discount dental plans online. They offer plans from 20+ top providers, including Delta Dental, Guardian, Humana and Ameritas.
We love their site feature that allows you to choose up to three plans to compare features, coverage, rates, etc. side by side. This tool is a huge plus if you’re trying to decide between insurance or a savings plan.
DentalPlans.com has been in business since 1999 and offers a variety of savings plans from such companies as Cigna, Aetna, and Careington.
DentalPlans.com has a network of 100,000 participating dentists across the country and gets glowing reviews for their customer service, but they only offer savings plans/discount cards.
DentalPlans.com is having a Labor Day sale with 15% off any new plan with the code LAB1815. Use this link to take advantage of this offer.
You can find some sweet dental discount plans via DentalInsurance.com and DentalPlans.com, but there are a couple of providers that stand out for affordability and added perks.
Tip: Confirm with your dentist that they accept the dental discount card you’re considering before enrolling.
Careington 500 Review
The Careington 500 Discount Plan provides 20-60% savings on all dental visits and procedures, as well as 20% off orthodontics, including braces. In addition to its 500 plan, Careington offers three other plans, including dental, vision and telemedicine discounts.
Careington has an extensive network of dentists and specialists across the country, and they get positive user reviews for their customer support. Unlike many dental savings plans, you have the option of paying annually or monthly.
- Individual Membership: $89/year or $8.95/month*
- Member + One: $139/year or $13.95/month*
- Family Membership: $169/year or $16.95/month*
*A one-time $20 processing fee applies to monthly payments.
DentalSave offers among the most affordable dental savings plans and will save you 20-50% off dental visits and procedures. Included in your membership are also discounts on prescription drugs and vision and hearing exams and equipment.
DentalSave’s network of 8,000 dentists is small, but this plan also gives you access to Careington’s network of more than 100,000 dentists across the country. Like with Careington, you have the option of paying annually or monthly.
- Individual Membership: $99/year or $9.95/month*
- Dual Membership: $165/year or $14.95/month*
- Family Membership: $199/year or $17.95/month*
*A one-time $20 processing fee applies to monthly payments.
The following are some noteworthy dental insurance carriers in the U.S. that offer individual insurance plans for purchase (rather than having to go through an employer). Not all providers and plans are available in every state.
A major healthcare insurance provider in the U.S., Cigna offers three dental PPO plans for individuals and families purchasing insurance on their own.
- Preventive: covers 100% of in-network diagnostic and preventive services with no annual maximum or deductible (averages $19/month/person).
- Dental 1000: $1000 annual max; $50 individual/$150 family deductible (averages $30/month/person).
- Dental 1500: $1500 annual max; $1,000 orthodontic benefit; $50 individual/$150 family deductible (averages $35/month/person).
Coverage for the 1000 and 1500 plans includes preventive, diagnostic and restorative services.
Delta Dental and its affiliates, like AARP, provide dental insurance plans to nearly 30% of all Americans through their employee and individual policies. They also offer the largest network of dentists compared to other dental plans.
Delta provides a wide variety of excellent dental insurance and discount plan options, whether you only need basic services or complex procedures. You also have a choice between HMO and PPO insurance coverage.
United Healthcare has an extensive network of dentists nationwide and offers several plans, from 100% preventative care coverage to low-cost copay plans. If you have excellent dental health, United Healthcare is a good choice. If you require complex coverage, however, you may want to look elsewhere.
United Healthcare has long waiting periods for such basic treatments as fillings and extractions, and you have to wait a year for coverage of major treatments, such as root canals and crowns. They also don’t cover some pre-existing conditions that other providers do.
Other Top Dental Insurance Providers To Consider
- Spirit Dental
eHealth, our number one pick for the best online health insurance marketplace, not only gives you all your options for dental insurance, but you can also get a comprehensive list of major medical, vision and other types of insurance in your state.
Be sure to read our eHealth review to learn more about this fantastic online marketplace that can assist you in finding and choosing the best options for you and your family.
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