Best Dental Insurance: Cigna vs Delta Dental vs United Healthcare & More

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Dental office chairsLet’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.

Article Overview

What’s The Difference Between Dental Insurance & Dental Savings Plans?

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 PlansDental 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$50None
Payment FrequencyMonthlyAnnually
What You Pay For Dental Procedures Out-Of-Pocket0-20%50-85%
Average Annual Maximum Caps$1,000-$1,500None
Waiting Period for Major Procedures (Root Canal, etc.)Varies From None to 12 MonthsNone
Waiting Period Between Cleanings6 MonthsNone

When Is A Dental Savings Plan A Wiser Choice?

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.

Can You Use A Discount Plan Along With Dental Insurance?

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.

Dental Insurance 101

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.

Types Of Dental Insurance Policies

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 ChoiceOut-Of-Pocket Cost
PPO or DPPOFewer 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.
HMOVery 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.
IndemnityFewer Limitations: Large choice of dentists.Copayment + Fee: Pay a copayment for procedures. Additional fee for the dentist since they are not reimbursed.
Discount PlansNo Limitations on networkDiscounted Fee: Reduced fee-for-service is completely out-of-pocket. No deductible or maximum.

Where To Find Affordable Dental Plans

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 Review

#1

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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.

Pros

Cons

  • Widest variety of dental insurance plans and providers
  • Excellent search features for individual and family plans
  • Check application status online
  • 24/7 customer support with licensed agents
  • BBB accredited: A+ rating
  • Very limited number of discount cards available (and you have to do a separate search for them)

Read Our Full Review Of eHealth

DentalInsurance.com Review

#2

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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.

Pros

Cons

  • Good variety of insurance and savings plans
  • Excellent search and filter features
  • Handy side-by-side plan comparison tool
  • Users give them high ratings for customer service
  • BBB accredited: A+ rating
  • Can’t check your application status online (must call)
  • No weekend customer support hours

DentalPlans Review

#3

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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.

Pros

Cons

  • Switch plans anytime
  • They’ll match the cost if you find the same plan elsewhere for lower rates
  • Search by state, dentist and individual or family plan
  • Excellent customer service reps
  • 30-day money back guarantee
  • BBB accredited: A+ rating
  • No dental insurance available (only discount plans)
  • You incur a $15 processing fee for refunds

DentalPlans Coupon

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.

Top Dental Savings Plans

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

Careington logo

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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.

Pricing

  • 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

DentalSave logo

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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.

Pricing

  • 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.

Top Dental Insurance Providers

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.

Cigna

Cigna logo

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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

Delta Dental logo

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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

United Healthcare logo

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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

  • Aetna
  • Ameritas
  • Guardian
  • Humana
  • MetLife
  • Spirit Dental

Need Medical, Vision Or Other Healthcare Insurance?

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.

What experiences have you had with dental plans?

Sources: [1] eHealth

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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