Main Reasons for Delayed Insurance Coverage
One of the obstacles to getting dental care at the time it’s needed is the date on which a dental plan
will begin to pay dentists. The two main reasons for delays in coverage are:
- The dental policy's effective date
- Attaching waiting periods to various benefits
This article will educate you on the conditions delaying insurance coverage and then list examples of dental plans that lack waiting periods.
Different Types of Coverage Delays
Waiting periods are not the only condition that can delay coverage. A dental plan enrollee also has to consider the plan’s effective date and deductible.
The effective date is the day when a dental insurance policy begins its coverage, or is “in force." In other words, you cannot use your dental insurance before the effective date. Other terms for an effective date is a "start date" for the insurance policy or its commencement date. The image below shows how this website displays the effective date for each insurance policy on a quote page. The effective date is the text in red at the bottom. It states, “Apply by the last day of the current month, effective 1st of the following month.
Effective Dates can vary by insurance company. Never apply for a dental plan until you know when the plan will become effective. If you don’t see an effective date by the plan’s name, you can look at a Plan Details page or plan brochure. On the first page of our Apply page, the effective date for a plan is displayed in the lower left corner of the page. In some cases, you might have multiple effective dates from which to choose.
Once a dental policy is effective, it will be active until the end of its term. A term is the length of time the insurance policy lasts, usually a year. A policy may be renewed or discontinued at the end of its term. Some enrollees may choose to end a policy earlier than the end of its term. A policy will also discontinue if an enrollee fails to pay his or her monthly premium obligations.
Dental Insurance with No Waiting Period
A waiting period is the amount of time a consumer must be continuously enrolled in a dental plan before that plan will cover a specific benefit. Waiting periods are normally attached to specific services so a plan might have no waiting period for basic care such as fillings and x-rays but have a waiting period for crowns, root canals, and teeth whitening. For more detailed information, refer to our article “dental insurance waiting period.”
A dental plan with a waiting period for orthodontic benefits may still be classified as a dental plan without waiting periods because orthodontic benefits are not generally considered core dental benefits. In fact, most individual dental insurance plans do not cover braces and other orthodontic care.
Don't Forget Deductibles
Deductibles are not waiting periods but they do have an affect on when a dental plan begins to pay for care. A deductible is the amount of money a dental plan enrollee must pay for covered care before the insurance company will begin to pay its share of costs. For example, if a dental plan has a $100 deductible then the enrollee will pay the first $100 of covered care out-of-pocket. Once the deductible amount is reached by the enrollee, the dental plan’s normal cost sharing (copayments or coinsurance fees) for covered services is in effect until the beginning of the next plan year. At the beginning of a new plan year, the deductible period begins again.
There are three points that should be remembered about deductibles. First, not all dental plans have a deductible. Second, dental plan deductibles are often small. Many dental plans have a deductible of $100 or less per enrollee on the plan. Third, even dental plans with deductibles may exclude some categories of care from the deductible requirement. For example, preventive care such as annual check-ups and teeth cleaning may not be subject to a deductible.
Immediate Coverage Dental Insurance
Dental plans without waiting periods for preventive, basic, and major dental care are sometimes labeled dental insurance immediate or immediate coverage dental insurance. These labels can be a bit misleading because dental plans without waiting periods still have effective dates (see discussion above). For more information, immediate coverage dental plans, see our article “Dental Insurance Immediate Coverage.”
What is the Best Dental Insurance with No Waiting Period?
The below list includes dental plans in each state (and Washington D.C.) that do not have waiting periods for preventive, basic, and major dental care. Be certain to check the plan details page to make certain there have not been any plan updates that have changed their no waiting period status. You can also get price quotes for your age and zip code in a few clicks.
NOTE - Some of the below plans may not be available in all regions of the state for which it is listed.