Oral health is part of your whole-person health, but often times, dental insurance doesn’t get the same consideration as health insurance. At Humana, we’d like to change that. We believe that choosing an individual or family dental insurance plan is just as important as choosing your health insurance plan.

To help you make the best decision, here are a few tips for comparing individual and family dental insurance plans.

1. Understand the different types of dental plans

Most dental plans cover preventive dental care like teeth cleanings, routine exams and X-rays. However, there are different types of dental insurance plans you’ll want to be familiar with before you make a final decision.

Dental HMO plans

Dental health maintenance organization (HMO) plans typically cost less than other dental insurance plans, with lower monthly premiums and less out-of-pocket costs. With these types of plans, you’ll only get coverage when you visit dentists and other healthcare providers who are in the HMO network.

Dental PPO plans

Dental preferred provider organization (PPO) plans tend to cost more than HMO plans, with higher monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The higher cost is in exchange for the flexibility to use dentists and providers both in and out of network.

Indemnity dental plans

Indemnity dental insurance plans are a more traditional type of plan. Often called “fee-for-service” insurance, indemnity dental plans typically reimburse you for a percentage (called coinsurance) for covered dental expenses. With this type of plan, you can choose your own dentist or healthcare provider.

2. Assess your dental care needs

Whether it’s just you or your entire family, each member on the plan should get basic preventive care like dental exams, X-rays and teeth cleanings. However, people in different age groups may need different things:

3. Look for a large dental network

You may want to have more than 1 dentist available in your family plan for several reasons. First, your work and school hours may not work with only 1 dentist. Second, the dentist you choose may not be able to perform all of the treatments you need. And last, 1 dentist may specialize in pediatric dentistry while another focuses more on senior dental care.

4. Know what the dental insurance covers

Most routine dental treatments are covered under basic dental insurance plans. However, some plans may also cover things like in-office teeth whitening. Always review the benefits of the plan to get an understanding of everything your plan covers. Not only will that ensure you’re covering all your necessities, you can also be confident you’re getting the most out of your plan benefits each year.

Then review the fine print. Some dental insurance plans have waiting periods and other limitations for certain services. In that case, you may need to adjust your timeline for various dental expenses like dental implants and orthodontics. Other plans have annual maximums, which can limit the amount your dental insurance plan covers for certain types of expenses each year.

Lastly, if you already have a dentist or healthcare provider that you prefer to visit, be sure to check whether they’re in network or out of network. If your healthcare provider is out-of-network, you may need to choose between paying out of pocket, finding a new healthcare provider—or selecting a new plan.

5. Understand all of the costs

When comparing individual and family dental insurance plans, the first consideration is often the monthly cost or premium. Be sure to also look at the deductibles—the amount of money that you will have to pay out of pocket for dental services first before your insurance kicks in.

Annual maximums

Another important cost is the maximum annual limit. Most insurance companies cap the amount they will pay per year for dental treatment. When you reach that annual cap, you are then responsible for all additional costs for that year. This could be very important, especially if someone in your family has ongoing dental issues.

6. Consider purchasing a discount dental plan

Different from insurance, discount dental plans are not insurance but allow you to enjoy discounts on certain dental services. Since they are not insurance plans, there are no copays or annual maximums. You simply enjoy savings at participating dentists by paying them directly for services at a lower price.

Enroll in a dental insurance plan

Doing your research, reviewing plan details and planning for the future are key before settling on a dental insurance plan. If you’re looking for a family dental plan, you’ll want to consider the dental needs of each member. Whether you’re looking for a plan that includes orthodontics and dental implants, or a plan that just covers the basics, Humana offers a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums.

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