What is a dental discount plan?

Are you looking for dental insurance and trying to identify all the options? Through your research you’ve probably become familiar with the concept of discount plans – also called dental savings plans.

A dental discount plan is not insurance – although these plans are usually offered as an option by traditional dental insurance companies. Instead, it is a type of membership plan where you get discounted costs on dental services.

How do dental discount plans work?

1. Annual fees

Members pay an annual fee up-front instead of a monthly or annual premium like traditional dental insurance plans. You receive a dental discount card which you show to any participating dentist at each visit to confirm you will get lower prices on dental services.

2. Dentist network size

Generally, the network of dentists that members are able to see could be smaller than that of a traditional insurance plan. Additionally, the range of discounts you receive will vary depending on the type of dentist seen and the services received. There may also be a limited number of dental specialists in the network, such as endodontists, oral surgeons, and orthodontists. In order to receive any discount, you must visit a dentist participating in the discount plan.

3. Dental services

The dental services you receive under a discount plan will be provided by a network of dentists who have agreed to charge less. The amount of discount will vary by dental service and most, but not all, dental services may be available with this plan. Therefore, it’s important to know upfront the amount of discount by dental service that you can receive when comparing a dental discount plan to other plans you’re considering. It’s also good to know what type of dental services you think that you or your family will need.

4. Membership fees

Dental discount plans, operate like a “buyer’s club.” You join the “club,” pay an annual membership fee, and receive pre-negotiated discounted dental services at participating dentists.

5. Out of pocket payment when you visit the dentist

Under a dental discount plan, you pay the dentist directly at the time of service on a pre-negotiated rate. For example, if the dentist’s usual fee for a filling is $200 and the discount dental plan has provided a 40% discount, then you will end up paying $120 to the dentist directly.

6. Annual maximums and deductibles

With a dental discount plan, generally, there are no annual maximums or deductibles. Instead, you pay a discounted price for any service you receive and, usually, all services, including those for pre-existing conditions, receive some level of discount.

7. Waiting period

For dental discount plans, there usually is no required waiting period before receiving any dental services.

Final thoughts

Dental insurance is designed to keep your oral health a top priority. Depending on the plan you choose, you will see a range in the amount of benefits received and the cost of coverage. Be sure to research things like premiums, copays, deductibles, and annual maximums in order to choose the most cost-effective plan that meets your family’s oral health care needs. If you would like a more extensive comparison of the different dental insurance plans and how they compare to a dental discount plan, then please visit our individual dental plan page.

Additional resources

·       What does dental insurance cover?

·       How to choose a dental insurance plan

·       How to choose a dental insurance company

·       Dental HMO vs PPO dental insurance