Richard P. Klich, DMD, Vice President, Professional Affairs & National Dental Director of United Concordia Companies provides practical information and key things to look for when selecting an insurance plan for affordable family dental care. United Concordia Dental is one of the nation's largest and most respected dental insurers, with more than 35 years of dental experience and more than 7.7 million members worldwide.
What are the advantages of dental insurance?
Proper preventive dental care is critical to good oral health. The Surgeon General reports that adult Americans lose over 164 million work hours and children lose more than 51 million school hours each year due to dental-related problems. Dental insurance coverage not only makes preventive dental services more affordable, but also ensures that members receive high quality care when visiting a network dentist. Preventive care not only keeps mouths healthy, but bodies healthy too. In fact, many medical conditions are first visible in the mouth. A report from the Surgeon General's office highlights studies that suggest a link between dental disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease and preterm births.
By visiting the dentist and receiving necessary preventive care, a member can save money in medical costs, and reduce the amount of work hours lost to medical and dental illness. Good dental coverage helps employers retain talent in their workforce and keep healthy, productive employees improving their bottom line.
What are the key features to look for in a dental care plan?
A dental care plan should provide affordable, accessible and high quality care while protecting members' personal and claim information. A dental insurer should provide:
- High quality care - Members should receive effective treatment from a dental care professional as well as responsive customer service and fast claims processing.
- Large network of dentists - An insurer should have large dental networks across the country so members can easily access affordable dental care.
- Quality assurance programs - Plans should include claims reviews, on-site inspections and peer comparisons of dentist facilities and personnel to help to ensure network dentists provide the highest standard of care.
- Security measures - A dental insurer should have appropriate security measures in place to actively protect personal and claim information.
What are three key questions to ask a potential new insurance plan provider?
Access to network dentists, plan options and service efficiency are important concerns when choosing a dental insurer. Therefore, you may want to ask:
- Does the carrier have network dentists where you need them?
- What are the different plan options? What types of services are covered under each plan?
- What are the out-of-pocket costs?
Do you have to give up good care to have affordable dental care?
No, you do not have to sacrifice good care for affordability. Quality assurance programs (professional review of dentists, dental care facilities, claims, etc.) help ensure high quality care from network dentists, and large dental networks mean members have easy access to participating dental care providers. There are a number of dental plans on the market today, including discount only, dental HMO, active/passive PPO and indemnity plans-offering a wide range of rates to meet your budget.
What can you do to reduce the cost of dental care?
Preventive care is the key to saving members future benefit dollars and discomfort by helping to avoid the need for complex corrective dental procedures. Many people do not realize how important it is to not only brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day, but also to visit the dentist on a regular basis. Much of a person's daily buildup of dental plaque is removed by brushing and flossing; however, there are areas in the mouth that cannot be reached by regular brushing and flossing. Here dental plaque hardens into calculus, which only a dental cleaning can eliminate. A visit to the dentist can also detect signs of a dental issue before it turns into a major problem that requires an extensive, and expensive, dental procedure to correct. Brushing twice daily, flossing once daily and regularly visiting your dentist will help keep your costs down and your smile healthy.
You should see a network dentist, whenever possible. With in-network care, you will pay less for covered services, and you won't be balance-billed for those services. Network dentists accept insurance carriers' fee schedules, which typically mean out-of-pocket savings compared to dentists who are not in the network. Network dentists will file claims for you, which saves you time.
What if you can't afford the premium or the copayment?
If you cannot afford the premium or copayment of a dental insurance plan, contact your state insurance department or Department of Health and Human Services for information on state-supported programs.