A discount dental plan: Are the savings worth it?

It may not be the traditional dental insurance that you get with an HMO or PPO policy like StayWell, TakeCare, or Hawaii Dental Service but a discount dental plan can save you a ton of money. With this kind of dental coverage, you can get the treatment and services that you need—without breaking your budget.

But what exactly is a discount dental plan?

With this type of dental coverage, your monthly premiums are much lower than with traditional policies. You typically receive anywhere from 20-percent to 50-percent discounts on all dental procedures provided by the dental office. Some plans even offer discounts for cosmetic dentistry.

Depending on the discount dental plan you get, instead of getting percentage discounts (such as 100 percent, 80 percent, and 50 percent as in traditional dental insurance), you might be entitled to special rates—like $100 for a dental checkup, instead of $200. That way, you will know exactly what your dental charges are going to be before you ever make an appointment! True discount dental plans publish their fee schedules with three costs:  Full fees, the cost that the member pays, and most importantly, what they are actually saving. A very, very transparent plan for patients.

But if you have to pay out a percentage of the costs, are you really saving money with a discount dental plan?

Yes!

Sure, with traditional dental insurance, when you go to the dentist, you might only have to pay a copay—or pay nothing at all if you have already met your deductible. Under a discount dental plan, once you have paid the annual fee (which can be paid biweekly via payroll deduction), you don’t have to pay anything else to the insurance company. You will only spend money when you actually go to the dentist, regardless of whether you’re using the coverage or not.

Like all other types of insurance for dental services, you will have to read the fine print carefully on these plans. And you will also have to make sure that a discount dental plan is right for your particular situation. For example, if you need a lot of serious dental work done, you will definitely be better off opting for a discount dental plan, which has no annual maximum. Also, if your teeth are in relatively good shape—and you only need the occasional check-up—a good discount dental plan can save you a lot of money.

Buying insurance for dental purposes is never a whole lot of fun. But once you understand all of the benefits that come along with a discount dental plan, you can save money—and that’s something that’s always fun!

For more information about discount dental plans available in the CNMI, contact me at 234-4040.

Donna Krum, CIC, CPCU owns Friends First Marketing, Inc. and is the plan administrator for the Island Smiles Dental Plan.

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