If you’re new to dental insurance, it’s important to understand the “fine print” that’s involved before making your final purchase. Otherwise, you may not be getting the coverage that you think you are.
One of the specific clauses that catches many people off guard is the “waiting period.”
When Waiting Periods Dictate Your Dental Care
When you visit your dentist, their financial coordinator contacts your insurance carrier to get a “breakdown of benefits.” This involves gathering any exclusions or clauses as they impact your coverage. If a waiting period is involved, they will make note of which treatments it pertains to and how long the waiting period is.
Depending on whether or not you need any dental work done, your financial coordinator will then compare the dentist’s recommended treatment plan with your insurance breakdown. This is how they’re able to provide you with an estimated out of pocket amount. If you have a waiting period on certain treatments (usually crowns or larger procedures) you may have what turns out to be zero coverage until a specific time frame has passed.
For example, you need two fillings on separate teeth, but the third tooth has a cavity that is too large to fill, so you need a crown. Unfortunately, your dental indemnity plan has a six-month waiting period on crowns, so they’ll only cover the two fillings for now. It’s almost their way of saying “you’ve only paid into your premium for two months, there’s not enough money ‘in your account’ to cover a crown just yet.” After all, dental insurance companies are a business that’s out to make a profit, too.
How to Get Around Waiting Periods in Insurance
What can you do to get around your insurance policy’s waiting period? Here are a few things to consider:
- Read the fine print. If you know that you need dental work done right away, consider buying into a dental insurance plan that doesn’t have waiting periods, or whose waiting periods are shorter than others. Unfortunately, these plans are hard to find, unless you have previously and very recently been covered by another dental insurance policy.
- See your dentist regularly. Ongoing preventive care is the best way to avoid unnecessary dental treatments further along in the future. Cleanings, exams, x-rays, and fluoride can save you thousands of dollars later on down the road by preventing common dental problems or stopping them early.
- Supplement your coverage with a discount or dental savings plan that provides a flat discount on all dental work. Savings plans are ideal for cutting the cost of dental care when you need a lot of expensive work done, during insurance waiting periods, or in situations where your insurance benefits are maxed out for the year. Some people find that their dental discount plan saves them so much money, and is so easy to use, that they simply don’t need traditional dental insurance at all.
Alternatives to Dental Waiting Periods
Until recently, if you had an insurance policy with a waiting period, you only had two options. One, you went ahead and got the treatment but paid for the entire thing out of your own pocket. Or two, you waited until your coverage kicked in and hoped that the problem that needed to be fixed hadn’t gotten worse. If it did, you would have to “graduate” to a more expensive and invasive treatment to fix it. For example, if you needed a crown because of a large cavity and put it off six months, you may find yourself needing a crown and a root canal.
Now, you can have another option to start on treatment right away without it costing an arm and a leg. Enrolling in a dental savings plan allows you to get a discount on your treatment even if you don’t have dental insurance or are restricted by waiting periods.
Find out more about enrolling in a dental insurance or indemnity plan without waiting periods or signing up for a dental savings plan to help you reduce your dental bills. Contact CalDental Plans to speak to one of our savings experts for a custom quote.