Dental insurance is a form of health insurance designed to pay a portion of the costs associated with dental care. There are several different types of individual, family, or group dental insurance plans grouped into three primary categories: Indemnity, Preferred Provider Network (PPO), and Dental Health Managed Organizations (DHMO).
Generally dental offices have a fee schedule, or a list of prices for the dental services or procedures they offer. Dental insurance companies have similar fee schedules which is generally based on Usual and Customary dental services, an average of fees in an area. The fee schedule is commonly used as the transactional instrument between the insurance company, dental office and/or dentist, and the consumer.
INDEMNITY DENTAL INSURANCE PLAN
With indemnity dental plans, the insurance company generally pays the dentist a percentage of the cost of services. Restrictions may include the co-payment requirements, waiting period, stated deductible, annual limitations, graduated percentage scales based on the type of procedure, and the length of time that the policy has been owned.
DENTAL HEALTH MAINTENANCE ORGANIZATION (DHMO)
Dental Health Maintenance Organization plans entail dentists contracting with a dental insurance company that dentists agree to accept an insurance fee schedule and give their customers a reduced cost for services as an In-Network Provider. Many DHMO insurance plans have little or no waiting periods and no annual maximum benefit limitations, while covering major dental work near the start of the policy period. This plan is sometimes purchased to help defray the high cost of the dental procedures. Some dental insurance plans offer free semi-annual preventative treatment. Fillings, crowns, implants, and dentures may have various limitations.