Free coffee. Paid vacations. Health benefits. Employers often offer a variety of perks to their workforce. But what about dental insurance?
Is dental insurance offered by an employer a perk you should take advantage of? While many people are understandably thrilled at the prospect of employer-provided dental insurance, there are some potential downsides you’ll want to be aware of. Here’s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of dental insurance from your employer.
How Does Employer-Provider Dental Insurance Work?
Most people who have dental insurance have it through an employer. The employer sponsors a group dental insurance plan through an insurance carrier. The dental insurance might be an addition to a health insurance plan or it might be standalone dental coverage.
Benefits will vary based on the type of plan purchased by the company. Depending on the specific policy, employer-provided dental insurance might cover you alone or you and your immediate family.
What Does Dental Insurance Cover?
Dental insurance has three tiers of coverage.
Preventative care involves checkups, cleanings and other procedures designed to prevent major problems from developing. Typically, dental insurance covers 100% of the costs for preventative procedures. After all, preventing major dental work is the most cost-effective solution for the insurance company, and the easier solution for the patient.
The next level of coverage is for basic services. These are treatments for relatively routine dental issues like cavities and gingivitis. Common basic procedures include fillings, deep cleanings, certain types of root canals and more. Generally, insurance companies cover 80% of the cost of basic dental procedures.
Finally, coverage is provided for major dental procedures. These are the most extensive and expensive dental procedures. Major dental procedures include bridges, crowns, inlays and most oral surgeries. Insurance generally covers about 50% of the costs of major dental procedures.
What are the Benefits of Employer-Provided Dental Insurance?
The main benefit is lower costs. When insurance is purchased through a group plan, premiums are usually significantly lower than a plan purchased by an individual. Plus, some employers allow you to automatically deduct the premium from your paycheck each month, which helps prevent any accidental cancellations.
Plus, lower costs can actually translate to higher quality plans. Group savings allows your company to purchase plans with generous annual maximums and coverage limits – but with affordable deductibles and premiums.
What are the Drawbacks to Employer-Provided Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance tied to your job is only active if you’re employed. Unfortunately, if you lose your job, you’ll also lose your dental coverage.
However, some exceptions can apply. Certain states mandate continued coverage after what’s called a “decisive appointment.” This is an initial appointment for a multi-visit procedure. Basically, after dental insurance agrees to provide coverage for an issue, and your dentist starts the procedure, coverage must continue until the procedure is completed.
Another potential drawback is cost. Just because your employer offers dental insurance doesn’t mean coverage makes financial sense for you. Employer-provided dental insurance plans still have monthly premiums, deductibles, annual limits and other potential restrictions. You’ll want to crunch the numbers.
For example, dental insurance often makes the most sense if you’re relatively free from dental problems. If you need to cover just checkups and maybe a minor procedure like a filling, you’ll have no problem staying under the policy’s annual limit. Depending on the specific premiums and deductibles, dental insurance could save you money.
But dental insurance is a different story if you have a lot of dental issues. Dental insurance either doesn’t cover or else places wait times on many basic and major dental procedures like fillings, root canals and more. You might not be able to get the dental coverage you want for at least six months. Plus, even when procedures are covered, you’ll still be limited by the policy’s annual limit.
What are Dental Discount Plans?
If you decide dental insurance isn’t the best choice for you, consider a Aetna dental discount plan. An affordable alternative to dental insurance, discount plans offer savings of 15% to 50% on many different dental procedures at a network of over 100,000 participating dentists.
Dental discount plans have no limits on how often they can be used. Plus, discount plans cover many different procedures related to preventative, basic and major dental care. You can get the care you need right away, even for many conditions which developed before you purchased the plan.
Should I use Employer-Provided Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance provided by an employer often seems like a great benefit. But it’s actually not for everyone. Many people turn down employer-provided dental insurance and then use the money saved to buy a Aetna dental plan, which is better suited for their dental care needs.
Sometimes the best dental care benefits aren’t always the most obvious ones. Before you enroll in your company’s dental plan, make sure it’s the best option for your needs.