Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dental Savings Plans, a cost effective approach to obtaining dental care

For many years, the standard method of obtaining dental care was through a traditional dental insurance policy. These policies were issued exclusively by licensed insurance companies who, based on claims rates, would price the cost of dental care to large employee groups. Individuals had no access to traditional dental insurance since the pricing of insurance was based on large groups on which to spread the costs.

Fast forward to today and you see a variety of options for individuals, (and their families) to obtain dental services at substantial savings. Whether the dental plan is offered by a third party company or directly from the dentist, it merely involves joining a membership group that offers discounts to its members for dental services. Since these dental savings plans are not insurance, it does not require an insurance company to issue nor administrate. However, many insurance companies are now offering Dental Savings Plans in addition to their traditional insurance model.

Although the premise of the dental savings plan seems simple, some dentists are constructing what’s defined as a “prepaid dental plan” which requires proper licensing and registration with the State Departments of Insurance. And since these dentists are not following the state Statutes governing “prepaid dental plans” they are considered in violation of State Insurance laws.

In addition, by purchasing a dental plan directly from a dentist, you are limiting your ability to obtain a second opinion, the ability to utilize a Specialist and your dental plan will become worthless should the dentist close their business, end the plan or retire all together.

What should you look for when evaluating a Dental Savings Plan?

1. First and foremost, longevity of the dental plan. The longer a dental plan has been in business, the more successful it has been retaining its provider network and membership base.
2. Look at the size of the provider network. A couple of dental offices cannot provide all the services necessary as can a network of several hundred in your metropolitan area.
3. Yearly membership costs. Some plans when you factor in the membership fee and the minimal reduction in costs end up costing you more in the long run than paying full price for the dental service if/when you may need it.
4. Are any services provided free of charge? A third party Dental Savings Plan can offer it but a proprietary dentist’s plan cannot, unless they are properly licensed and governed by the Department of Insurance.

Dental Savings Plans are widely being accepted as the cost effective alternative to traditional dental insurance. Should you be in the market for such a plan, consider American Dental Plan, Arizona’s oldest dental savings plan since 1978.  Yearly membership fees start at only $59 and membership includes a free exam and 4 x-rays with savings up to 40% on additional dental services. There are over 750 general and specialty dentists and no referrals are required to see a Specialist.  Complete details including the fee schedule and list of participating dentists can be found at www.arizdental.com