There are many different types of dental insurance plans. Some cover the basics and others cover more extensive care and treatments, sometimes referred to as, “full coverage.” What is full coverage dental insurance? What does it cover, and what does a full coverage dental plan cost?
What is full coverage dental insurance?
Full coverage dental insurance includes plans that help cover you for preventive care, as well as basic and major restorative care, and in some cases orthodontic treatment. The term, “full coverage” means you’re getting benefits for a lot of different types of dental treatments and procedures. For example, you may have coverage for more costly things like root canals, bridges, and implants, as well as coverage for your preventive dental care. Full coverage does not mean your plan covers 100% of all costs, however.
What are the main types of full coverage dental plans?
Many types of dental plans provide coverage for services and treatments that go well beyond preventive care. These are considered full coverage. Dental PPO (DPPO), Dental HMO (DHMO), Dental EPO (DEPO), and Dental POS (DPOS), may all provide coverage for a wide range of dental services and treatments.
They can differ greatly, though, in covered services, costs, and limitations, even between insurance carriers.
What types of services and treatment does a full coverage dental plan cover?
The services and treatments covered under a full coverage dental plan depends on the type of dental plan you choose.
Typically, full coverage plans go beyond preventive care. They may also offer coverage for the following:
- Basic restorative care: This usually includes things like fillings, extractions, and non-routine X-rays.
- Major restorative care: This includes things like bridges, crowns, and dentures.
- Orthodontic treatment: This includes things like space maintainers, braces, and other devices used to align your teeth.
- Preventive dental care: This includes regular teeth cleanings, routine X-rays, fluoride treatments and sealants as indicated by age and frequency. Many dental plans cover 100% for preventive dental services with the exception of a copay at the time of the visit.
When choosing a full coverage dental plan, read the details carefully. Dental plans can vary even between insurers.
What's the cost for full coverage dental insurance?
Full coverage dental plans vary in cost depending on what type of plan you choose. For example, DPPO and DHMO plans may offer coverage for many types of dental services, but their costs can be quite different.
- Deductible: This is what you pay before your plan begins to pay. Some dental plans have deductibles, such as DPPO plans. While many DHMO plans do not.
- Coinsurance: This is the percentage of costs you and your plan share, typically once you’ve met your deductible. If your plan doesn’t have a deductible, like a DHMO, you will pay a flat fee for the services you receive.
- Annual Maximum: This is how much your plan agrees to pay toward your dental care in a plan year. If you go over this amount, you may be responsible for the out-of-pocket costs.
- Premium: This is what you pay monthly for your plan. Some plans, like DPPOs, tend to have a little higher premium because they offer you a lot of choice. DHMOs tend to have lower premiums because you are more limited.
Can you get full coverage dental insurance without a waiting period?
Yes, there are full coverage dental plans without a waiting period. A waiting period is the period of time between your plan start date and when you are actually covered to receive certain kinds of care.
Often a plan will cover you for preventive care right away, but ask you to wait a certain amount of time before it will cover you for more complex and costly care. So, for example, you may be able to get your teeth cleaned once your plan begins, but you may have a waiting period before you can get something like a crown.
Can you get full coverage dental insurance without a maximum?
Many types of dental plans set an annual maximum—this is the most your plan will pay for dental procedures and treatments over the course of the plan year. Dental HMO plans, or DHMOs, typically do not have annual maximums. This means you don’t risk running out of benefits. DHMOs are a good fit for some people, but offer fewer choices.
That said, you can shop for other dental plans with higher annual maximums, which means they cover you for a lot more. It’s important to anticipate what type of dental care you may need in the upcoming year and choose a plan with an annual maximum that’s right for you. Or, explore the value of a DHMO for a full coverage dental plan.
Where can you buy a full coverage dental plan?
You can get a full coverage dental plan in one of the following ways:
- Enroll in a dental plan offered through your employer. Your employer may offer you options in insurance coverage through a particular insurance carrier.
- If you don’t have coverage through an employer, you can buy a full coverage dental plan on your own either through a private insurance carrier or the Health Insurance Marketplace.
You will also find dental plans that cover you for basic preventive dental care. It’s important to know the difference.
When you’re considering full coverage dental insurance plans, make sure to read the details. What does each cover? Are there limits on age and frequency? Is there an annual maximum that’s right for you and the dental care you expect to need during the plan year? Plans can vary by type, DPPO vs. DHMO for example, and also by insurance carrier. Before you enroll, make sure you understand how much your plan will cost and what it will cover.
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