When you head to the dentist for your regular dental cleaning, the last thing you want to hear is that you are in need of major dental work. Major dental work means more dental appointments in an already packed schedule. Then, there is the other primary concern: How much will this cost me? Will insurance cover it?
Many people mistakenly assume they will be covered by their dental insurance as long as they have a dental plan. They know their dental plan will not cover the entire major dental procedure but presume it should at least chip away at the total cost. Little do they know, dental insurance plans can carry what is called a waiting period. A waiting period is an amount of time you must pass before you receive coverage.
Major dental work doesn’t have to break the bank. If you just found out you need a major dental service such as a crown, bridge, or dentures, you may opt to purchase a dental insurance policy with no waiting period1 for major dental services so that you can rely on getting covered.
Dental Insurance 101
You may be wondering what kind of dental services typically require a waiting period. Dental plans often describe the type of dental care you receive into 3 classes of service:
- Class I: Diagnostic and preventive services, such as cleanings and X-rays
- Class II: Basic restorative care, such as root canals and fillings
- Class III: Major restorative care, such as crowns, bridges, and dentures
Major dental procedures refer to services that are more extensive than root canals or fillings. Major dental services include crowns, bridges, and dentures—work that replaces missing or damaged teeth. A patient who has chipped or cracked his tooth is generally distressed and eager to resolve the issue. He or she will often experience impairments in chewing and speaking, 2 essential, daily tasks. Chewing difficulties can lead to digestion problems, which can cause more discomfort. The patient may feel self-conscious about his or her appearance and avoid interactions with others. It is in the patient’s best interest to receive prompt dental care. For these patients, dental insurance with no waiting period for major dental work is imperative.
No Waiting Period Dental Insurance for Major Work
Major dental work, or Class III services, are frequently covered at a rate of 50 percent. This sounds great until you read the fine print about coverage limits. Limited plans only cover major restorative dental care at this level after a lengthy waiting period of 6-12 months. If you receive a crown, bridge, or dentures before the completion of the waiting period, you will be responsible for the entire bill. Most people cannot wait 6-12 months to replace a cracked tooth or to fill in a gap left behind by a missing tooth. Fortunately, it is possible to find dental insurance with no waiting period for major restorative dental care.
In order to avoid surprises when paying for major dental work, patients can request a treatment plan from their dentist before receiving treatment. They should specify that the treatment plan include the estimated cost for their dental work. Patients can then send this treatment plan estimate to their insurance company to learn exactly how much their insurance will pay. This will prevent confusion later when payment is due.
Want to Skip the Wait? Find Dental Insurance With No Waiting Period
Dental insurance plans with no waiting period for major dental work are extremely advantageous over those with a yearlong waiting period if you are in urgent need of major work. Patients who receive rapid dental care can return to their daily responsibilities without worrying about a tooth causing them more physical pain, embarrassment, or long-term bone loss from the result of missing teeth. Patients can also avoid the high likelihood of their dental problem worsening and needing more expensive treatments in the future.
Parents of teenagers who participate in contact sports also benefit from dental insurance plans with no waiting periods for major dental work. Trauma to the mouth is a common occurrence in several contact sports. It is also a common injury in childhood, especially the loss of front teeth, the most visible teeth. The front teeth not only affect appearance but can also hinder a child’s speech development. Whether your child suffers a blow to the mouth in an injury around the house or in sports, waiting 6 months to a year to replace a tooth, or teeth, is not a viable option. Parents who are worried about sports injuries could enjoy peace of mind with a dental plan with no waiting period for major dental services. They may also save money in the long term by treating the injury quickly rather than delaying treatment.
Full Coverage Dental Insurance With No Waiting Period
Some dental insurance plans with no waiting periods provide increasing benefits from plan years 1 to 3. Many of these plans offer full-coverage dental insurance with no waiting period. Keep in mind that full coverage doesn’t mean that all your services are paid for. Full coverage means that all major services are at least partially covered. For full coverage dental insurance with increasing benefits, plans may cover 20 percent of the cost of major work after the deductible is met during year 1, 30 percent during year 2, and 50 percent during year 3. This means that if you need dentures, a crown, or oral surgery during your first year with dental insurance with no waiting period, you’ll still have to pay 80 percent of your major service expenses after you pay your deductible. Plans that work this way typically consist of a one-time deductible for as long as you’re on the plan.
Besides waiting periods and deductibles, when shopping for dental insurance, check your plan for annual maximums. The plan year annual maximum is the most the plan will pay toward services in a plan year. The patient is responsible for paying for services above the annual maximum. Plans that grant increasing percentage benefits each year may also increase the annual maximum each year that the member is on the plan. This can alleviate some of the cost of major dental work.
A Dental DMO With No Waiting Period
Another option for coverage with no waiting period is a Dental DMO. Dental DMOs require members to use network providers but grant swift coverage for a broad range of services, including major restorative services. For options that work like this, you simply pay a specific dollar amount based on the service you are obtaining and enjoy no waiting periods, no annual maximums, and no deductibles. In addition, your out-of-pocket expenses are usually lower with a DMO than with other dental plans if you use one of the network providers.
Discount Dental Plans
Alternatively, you could look into purchasing a discount dental plan. Discount dental plans are not dental insurance plans. These plans are very affordable, and they can offer you a wide array of discounts on various dental services from in-network dentists. Discounted services vary depending on the plan. Discount dental plans tend to not have waiting periods, but many of them do charge a one-time annual fee rather than a monthly premium.
Suffering From Information Overload? Call us!
Don’t get slammed with a hefty bill for your major dental service. Our 3,000 HealthMarkets insurance agents can help you identify an insurance plan with no waiting period for major dental work so that you can obtain speedy coverage and keep your bills manageable. Find a local agent, or call (800) 642-0607 for personalized assistance 24/7.