In your efforts to save money and also keep your current dentist, have you ever had a conversation like the following:
You: Hi, I just have a quick question. Do you accept Delta Dental insurance plans…?
Your dentist’s receptionist: Yes we do.
You: Okay, thanks!
Millions of people have that exact same conversation, about Delta Dental or any number of dental plans. Like you, they probably think it means they’re going to be able to keep their current dentist and also pay the lowest rates.
However, if that’s your goal, you need to ask a different question.
The Question You Should Really Be Asking
So, if you want to keep your dentist and save money on dental care, what’s the question you should really be asking? And whom should you ask?
The best way to learn if you can keep your dentist and pay less is to ask both your dentist and the plan carrier or provider. And the question to ask is this: Is the dentist under contract as part of the specific dental insurance plan’s preferred provider network?
Learn more: 5 Things You Should Know About PPOs
We need to pay close attention to many details when it comes to insurance products. Dental insurance is no different. Some of the most common issues we hear from people have to do with the difference between in and out of network dental. How do the costs compare? Can I keep my own dentist?
And why not? Most people love their dentists. We want to do whatever it takes to remain with them if possible. So, for instance, folks will shop for dental insurance and, before buying a plan, call to ask if their dentist “accepts” the plan.
Alert: This is when paying close attention to the details can make a big difference.
The truth is, dentists may accept any number of dental plans. But that doesn’t mean they are in the plans’ preferred provider groups. Being a preferred provider makes a dentist part of a plan’s official network of dentists. That’s where the term “in network” comes from. And being in network or in a plan’s preferred provider pool is the real key to helping you save money.
Why all this confusion over network dental insurance?
Dentists want to keep you and your teeth healthy. However, they tend to leave the money saving part to you and your insurance provider. After all, that’s why you have a dental plan – to help you pay. Of course, dentists are running a business, as well, and contracting to be included in various carriers’ preferred provider pools is one of the ways they attract new patients and keep established ones happy.
…being in network or in a plan’s preferred provider pool is the real key to helping you save money.
Getting into the network requires your dentist to sign a contract with the plan provider. They agree to charge the plan’s lower rates for their dental work. Your dentist cannot be a part of every provider’s network. Like you, they have to choose carefully which plans to sign contracts with based on many, sometimes conflicting, considerations.
When you ask the dentist or her receptionist if they “accept” a dental plan, they answer you in an honest and efficient way. They don’t waste time probing to see whether you really understand the question you’ve asked. But the truth is, you haven’t really asked whether using a certain plan will help you remain under their care and also save some money on dental work. That is not the question they hear.
Until they’ve signed a contract to join the plan’s preferred provider network, they may in fact accept the plan but still have every right to charge higher rates than an in-network dentist would charge for the work they do. And when they do, you, not the plan, will have to pay the difference in cost.
Shop Your Dental Options Like a Pro
It’s a classic case of the heart vs. the head or emotions vs. logic. No one wants to pay more than needed for dental care. And no one wants to leave the dentist they’ve grown to know and trust just to save a few dollars.
So remember, the question to ask is this: Is the dentist under contract as part of the specific dental insurance plan’s preferred provider network? Be sure you ask your dentist and the plan’s carrier.
It’s a clear and unambiguous question. A simple yes or no will do. And, with confirmation of “in network” status from both your dentist and the plan carrier, you’ll be free to move forward with your dental work with confidence and then get on with something a little more interesting.
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Read next: Dental Insurance Companies: An Overview
You’ve probably already heard that you should go to the dentist regularly to maintain good oral health. A reliable rule of thumb is to go twice per year. However, you may not have been told about the full benefits of regular cleanings and checkups. To help you understand the importance of taking the time to schedule an appointment, here are some of the biggest reasons why doing so is a good idea.
Improving Your Confidence
Have you ever had bad breath? Of course you have! Everyone gets it. But if you don’t see your dental health professional and get your mouth cleaned occasionally, it could get much worse. Dentists can also help you keep your teeth bright and white. Many everyday products we consume, such as coffee or tea, can leave stains on them. At the dentist’s office you can get them whitened and polished, eliminating those unsightly stains and giving you a more attractive and confident-looking smile.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults, and most adults will face gum disease at some point in their lives. One of your biggest oral health goals, therefore, should be taking efforts to prevent and minimize this problem. Regular checkups will help you do that. Your
dentist has special tools that check to see if your gums are still healthy. If there’s a problem, he or she will tell you how best to fix it before it costs you your smile.
Over time, tiny food particles in your mouth convert to plaque, an acidic substance that clings to and slowly eats away your teeth. Regular flossing and brushing can help slow this process, but they can’t prevent it entirely. Over time, these cavities get worse and worse until they begin to cause you tremendous pain. A tooth isn’t like skin; it won’t regenerate to repair itself. Therefore, if you let the cavity get bad enough, you’ll lose it.
Fortunately, oral health professionals always check for cavities in their earliest stages. They use x-rays and other medical equipment to find them before they start to hurt you or cause irreplaceable damage. When cavities are in their early stages, repairing them is no problem. You’ll also get a good cleaning at every checkup, which prevents the buildup of plaque and lowers the likelihood that you’ll get cavities in the future.
Preventing Oral Cancer and Other Life-Threatening Conditions
Oral cancer is a deadly serious problem. Experts estimate that nearly 50,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it every year, and nearly 10,000 will die from it. Almost half of those diagnosed with oral cancer will die within five years of their diagnosis.
The Oral Cancer Foundation notes that this high mortality rate is mainly caused by the fact that oral cancer is usually detected at a very late stage. It can be hard to detect early because the symptoms are relatively mild at first.
Fortunately, dentists know how to recognize the signs of cancer early and will be able to detect it during a routine check-up. But that’s not all. Getting your mouth checked by a doctor has other major health benefits.
Dental check-ups have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and strokes, as well. Seeing your oral health-care professional regularly, therefore, could do more than save your teeth. It could also save your life.
Way back in 1964, a man named Van Kelsey, who had started selling life insurance door-to-door in the late 1940s, founded Kelsey National Corporation (KNC). This year, KNC is proud to be celebrating its golden anniversary – 50 years of experience and innovation in the US insurance industry.
Why are we bringing this up? Well, KNC is the parent organization of DentalInsurance.com, and if it weren’t for Van’s entrepreneurial spirit all those years ago, we wouldn’t be around today.
50 Years of Change in the US Benefits Industry
But there’s another reason we think Kelsey’s achievement is worthy of note. It serves as a timely reminder of just how much has really changed in the way insurance products are created and sold.
A great deal has changed in the US insurance industry over the past half century, and KNC has been on the front lines of this transformation. For example, Van Kelsey was among the first to see the advantages of providing group insurance plans to businesses, an insight he soon translated into a successful bid to provide group benefits to the members of local, state, and eventually national insurance associations.
In fact, KNC and the US insurance industry have matured side by side over the course of the last 50 years. During this time, the concept of single carrier solutions for employee groups has disappeared. The internet and digital technologies have enabled multi-carrier comparison tools, and companies like KNC continue to perfect this concept.
Insurance options for individual consumers, not just employers
Today, sites like those run by KNC (DentalInsurance.com is just one of them) are able to provide a vast range of insurance choices directly to consumers, something that was barely imaginable when Van R. Kelsey Sr. founded the company in the ‘60s.
Over the course of its history, KNC has built an impressive legacy. That includes extensive experience building online dental, health, vision, and other types of insurance marketplaces. And those marketplaces are no longer just for employers, benefit consulting houses, or large associations. They are directly serving individual consumers as well, without the need for intermediaries.
Decades of innovation, growth, and change
Van led KNC for thirty years until 1994. Then, his son, Mark Kelsey, took over the reins. Much as his father had identified opportunities for the insurance industry during the post-WWII era, Mark’s Presidency tapped the potential for online technologies and ecommerce.
With Mark at the helm, KNC developed its broad range of consumer-oriented insurance web sites. These include HealthInsurance.com, which helps empower small businesses and individuals to make informed health insurance decisions. And, of course, there’s this site, DentalInsurance.com, KNC’s online exchange platform for dental insurance and discount dental plan comparison shopping.
Earlier this year, Avery Smith, who had served as KNC’s Director of Business Development for the past 7 years, was appointed as the third President in Kelsey’s history. As the US health, dental, and vision insurance industries continue to evolve, Avery has many strategic plans for the future of KNC. These include expanding the company’s self-service exchange-type offerings for consumers.
Empowering individuals through new technologies
“This is the most exciting time for the insurance industry in 50 years,” Smith says. “The empowerment of the individual through new technologies is changing not only the industry and our company but people’s lives.”
The empowerment of the individual through new technologies is changing not only the industry and our company but people’s lives…
Looking to the future, KNC will continue to focus on creating easy-to-use insurance shopping and comparison tools for individuals, families, and retirees. With half a century of solid successes behind us, we’re more dedicated than ever to delivering first-rate services and experiences that keep customers – like you – coming back.
Share a smile with us! Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or add us to Google+.The Affordable Care Act mandates dental coverage for children 18 and younger, but it leaves adults to fend for themselves where oral health is concerned. That’s a shame. The connection between oral health and overall health is well documented, and leaving adult dental coverage off the list of essential health benefits sends the wrong message about the importance oral health.
Dental insurance is unique among insurance products in several ways:
First, the generally low cost of dental insurance makes it highly affordable for many individuals and families.
Secondly, many people who purchase dental insurance start to benefit immediately, because dental insurance encourages, and generally pays for, regular check-ups.
The Top 3 Reasons Why Dental Insurance Makes Sense
The truth is, even without a federal mandate, people have bought – and will continue to buy – dental insurance for a variety of reasons.
Here are three of the most common reasons for buying dental insurance:
Reason 1: To Pay for Costly Care
Dental care can be as simple as a twice-yearly visit for a professional cleaning and x-rays. On the other hand, it can involve costly care, such as oral surgery, getting a full set of dentures, or needing a crown.
…expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency…
Because expenses can mount quickly – especially if dental work is required as a result of an emergency – it truly pays to be covered. Depending on the type of insurance, dental plans generally pay either all or a percentage of the charges related to dental care.
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Reason 2: To Maintain a Healthy Mouth
Preventing oral health problems before they start is one of the best ways to keep dental costs down. Many studies have shown that regular dental check-ups and cleanings help people keep their teeth and gums healthy. That’s why most insurance plans pay 100% for check-ups every 6 months.
Just how important is preventive care? Well, let’s put it this way: It’s important enough that some dental insurance plans will even pay for a check-up immediately after new plan subscribers are approved for coverage.
Reason 3: To Protect Overall Health
You may not know it, but the truth is, there’s an awful lot a dentist can tell while gazing into your mouth. Studies have shown that our mouths can exhibit symptoms related to more than 120 different non-dental diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
So even if there’s nothing wrong with your teeth and gums (and we certainly hope that’s the case!), visiting a dentist regularly can lead to early detection of serious diseases, which alone can make dental insurance well worth the investment.
Peace of Mind…and a Gorgeous Smile, to Boot
The lifetime cost of maintaining a healthy mouth can mount to thousands of dollars, but for pennies a day, dental insurance will be there to provide important benefits when needed.
To learn more about the types of dental insurance available and find answers to your questions about dental insurance and oral care, visit the DentalInsurance.com knowledge base.
Learn More: Preventative Dentistry