Wellness

Dental Care: How Much Does it Cost?

Male sitting in dental chair at his dental appointment.

Most people don’t like financial surprises. Before making a large purchase, they check the cost to see if it fits within their budget. However, some expenses are unpredictable, such as for health and dental needs. But before they see a dentist, there are ways people can ask: How much does it cost?

Plan for the unexpected

You may take excellent care of your teeth. You brush twice a day, floss once daily and schedule regular dental checkups. Still, oral problems can occur. Procedures such as fillings, crowns, bridges and root canals can be costly. But with dental insurance, it’s possible to plan for these expenses. In fact, a cost-benefit analysis will show dental insurance does pay for itself when you use it every year.

Dental insurance benefits

Many people can get employer-sponsored dental benefits at work. Employers usually cover a portion of the premium, with employees paying the rest. These are called group plans. Other employers make arrangements for employees to get coverage on their own. This works by offering access to individual dental coverage with a low-cost monthly premium. How much does an individual plan cost?

The value of dental insurance is in the cost savings it provides. Think about how much it will pay for dental procedures. Plus, when using a dentist who is in-network, people do save more, so their benefits go further. Dentists and specialists who participate in a network agree to charge reduced fees. They are referred to as in-network. However, the reduced network fees only apply to specific dental insurance carrier plans that offer the network. These plans are called Participating or Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO). They are a smart way to control costs.

There are many different types of dental insurance plans, benefits and costs. Some are basic plans that cover preventive dental checkups and professional cleanings. Other plans provide much more extensive coverage. But both may include discounts on other dental services. Some dental plan designs include a rewards feature where members can increase their annual benefit over time. For example, they could qualify to carryover up to $350 in unused benefits that can be applied to future dental claims. Without this feature, the plan’s annual maximum benefit resets every year with no increase (rewards carryover). Does your plan have this feature?

Dental cost estimator

People worry about the cost of dental procedures, and rightly so. Most have limited savings to cover unexpected expenses. But for Ameritas dental plan members, they can estimate dental costs before seeing the dentist. Learn more about this online estimator tool.

Predicting costs

So for dental care, how much does it cost? Dental procedures generally are grouped as either Type 1, 2 or 3. Here’s an example of estimated costs for dental procedure services with and without insurance. The figures below are based on a traditional 100/80/50 dental network plan in Phoenix, Arizona.

Type 1 – Preventive services

The most important preventive service is the preventive visit. It consists of an exam, bitewing X-rays and professional cleaning. Dental professionals encourage people to get one twice a year to maintain optimal dental health. Without insurance, people would pay about $426 for two preventive visits a year, depending on the location.

But members with insurance, and who see an in-network dentist, would pay $0 for those two preventive visits. As shown in the example, network cost can be nearly half as much as the usual and customary cost without insurance. And, insurance paid 100% of the network cost. It pays to learn more about the differences between in-network and out-of-network dentists.

Type 2 – Basic services

These include fillings. A filling is when a dental material is used to fill an empty space after the decay is removed. People without insurance can expect to pay $188 for a basic filling, depending on their location. However, with insurance, the plan could pay 80% of the cost for an in-network dentist. In the example, after paying the annual $50 deductible for Type 2 services, members only pay $56 for each filling. Again, depending on your location.

Type 3 – Major services

These include crowns. A crown is used to strengthen a tooth after a large filling. Or, it can be used to protect a weak tooth, change tooth color or attach a dental bridge. The crown is placed on top of the tooth. Most people pay as much as $1,162 out-of-pocket for a crown without insurance. But, with insurance and a network dentist, plan members would pay just $318.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums doesn’t have to be expensive. People with individual or group dental insurance can enjoy peace of mind knowing their plan helps cover costs. That means their budget will be more predictable, because they’ll pay less out-of-pocket for unexpected dental expenses.

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