5 of the Cheapest Dental Plan Options in the U.S
Bargains are out there but consumers must understand the trade-offs
Too many people lack dental insurance because they assume it's as expensive as health insurance. The truth is that dental insurance is typically much less expensive than medical coverage and there are some options that are very affordable even for people with modest incomes. This article will provide you with:
- A brief summary of the pros and cons of very low-cost dental coverage
- Advice on shopping on premium vs total cost of dental care
- Five examples of inexpensive dental plans
Cheap Dental Plans: Pros & Cons
Paying less for dental coverage involves trade-offs. For many plans, lower cost means fewer dental services covered. Dental services are often characterized as preventive, basic, and major. Below we provide some examples of different services that may be included within each of these categories:
Preventive (service examples include)
- Annual exam
- Annual teeth cleaning
- Annual x-rays
Basic (service examples include)
- Traditional filling for a cavity
- Tooth extraction
Major (service examples include)
- Root canal
- Root planing
Before enrolling in a dental plan, make certain the services it covers matches your oral health needs. Inexpensive dental plans may have waiting periods delaying access to more expensive major services, or they may not cover these services at all. Since dental benefits are not standardized, it is always a good idea to review the specific services covered within a dental plan's Summary of Benefits or plan brochure.
Another matter to examine when considering low-cost coverage is the choice of dentists associated with an inexpensive dental plan. Low-cost coverage is more likely to be HMO dental plans or dental discount programs with limited dentist options. As healthcare research Kev Coleman has noted, dental insurance is only as good as the dentists who accept it. Consequently, a cheap dental plan is only a bargain if you know you'll have access to a quality dentist.
Another significant consideration on inexpensive dental plans is the maximum benefit. The maximum benefit is the yearly limit on what an insurance company will spend for your dental care. Inexpensive ppo dental plans are more likely to have a low maximum benefit while a dental hmo plan typically has no maximum benefit limit.
Shopping on Premium vs Total Dental Costs
One of the biggest mistakes consumers make when shopping for dental coverage is considering premiums alone. A premium is the monthly payment made in exchange for coverage. However, dentist insurance costs can extend well beyond these payments because most services come with out-of-pocket costs in the form of copayments or coinsurance fees. If you anticipate using many dental services in a year, be certain to check the out-of-pocket expenses attending them because higher out-of-pocket costs may outweigh the savings of a lower premium.
Five of the Cheapest Dental Plans in the Nation
Below are five different dental insurance options that each cost less than $25 a month for a single enrollee. Please note that each dental plan may not be available in every region of the U.S.
Careington 500 Series Dental Savings
The Careington 500 Series Dental Savings is one of the lowest priced of the five plan examples in this article. For most enrollees, this plan costs less than $10 a month. The Careington plan is not traditional dental insurance. Instead, the plan is a membership-based savings program where the enrollee has unlimited use of participating dentists and these dentists discount their service rates from 20 percent to 60 percent of market price. Unlike many traditional plans, preventive care such as annual exams and cleanings come with out-of-pocket costs. However, the Careington plan has no maximum benefit that limits annual savings.
DentalInsurance.com offers this discount program in 43 states plus Washington D.C.
MetLife TakeAlong Dental Low PPO
For consumers seeking more freedom of dentist choice, the MetLife TakeAlong Dental Low PPO is a preferred provider organization with a wide dentist network as well as the option to seek out-of-network care (albeit at higher out-of-pocket costs). For around $20 a month, enrollees have coverage for preventive and basic care. Two teeth cleanings per year are covered 100% with no out-of-pocket costs for in-network dentists and the annual deductible is only $75 per enrollee. The plan also pays half the cost of fillings. The MetLife brand is a household name and is known for insurance services ranging from life and vision insurance to pet insurance.
This MetLife plan is available in almost every state DentalInsurance.com serves.
Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 PPO
Costing under $25 a month, the Ameritas Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 PPO is a big value that provides its enrollees with lots of choice with respect to dentists. Unlike some other inexpensive dental PPO plans, the Hollywood Smile Premier 1500 includes coverage for major dental care, not just preventive and basic. Cost coverage for crowns and root canals increases in the second and third year of continuous enrollment.
DentalInsurance.com has this product available in 34 states plus Washington D.C.
Humana Bright Plus PPO
While they may be more famous for their Medicare plans, Humana offers the extremely affordable Humana Bright Plus PPO. Covering a single person around $25 a month, this plan covers preventive and basic dental care. The plan's $50 deductible is waived for in-network preventive care. The plan also covers 60 percent of the cost of services such as white fillings and teeth extractions.
DentalInsurance.com has this product available in over half the states in the U.S.
Guardian Direct Advantage Starter PPO
Coming in right around $25 a month in many regions, the Guardian Direct Advantage Starter PPO is another PPO option for consumers who don't like the restrictive dentist networks of HMOs and dental discount cards. The plans has a $50 per enrollee deductible and preventive care is covered immediately. Basic dental care like a filling or tooth extraction is available after 6 months of continuous plan membership.
DentalInsurance.com has the Guardian Direct Advantage Starter PPO available in 42 states.
Interested in these plans? See which ones are available in your region by visiting our dental insurance quote page.