Some people think buying dental insurance also means having to get a new dentist. The truth is, it depends.There are many dental networks in the US, and using a dental plan that has a network doesn’t always mean you will lose freedom of choice.
There are 4 basic types of dental plans: indemnity plans, dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and discount dental plans. All but one of these types makes special arrangements with specific dentists to perform services at better rates for their plan’s members.
Those contracted dentists make up each separate plan’s “dental network.” There are dozens – if not hundreds – of dental networks today in the US.
Learn more about four types of dental plans.
Whether you will be able to keep your current dentist depends on the type of plan you choose.
The range of freedom depends on your choice of plan
Most dental plans restrict which dentists you can go to for services. On the side of free choice, you can see any dentist when you have an indemnity plan. At the other end of the spectrum, DHMOs and discount dental plans require that you only use their network dentists.
Then, there are PPO plans, the middle ground in the spectrum of dentist choice. Similar to DHMO and discount plans, PPO plans are built around a dental network. With many PPO plans, however, the use of out-of-network dentists may be allowed.
Then, there are PPO plans, the middle ground in the spectrum of dentist choice…
Depending on the PPO plan, you may be able to see a dentist who is not a member of the network and still have some part of your expenses covered or offset by the plan. The best savings, though, will always go to members who use an “in-network” dentist.
So if you’re one of those people who loves your dentist and wants to continue seeing them (we hope you are!), check with them to find out what plans and networks they take part in. If you don’t have a dentist yet, think about the other criteria that may be important to you, and choose a dental plan accordingly.