Dental insurance works very much like medical insurance. For a fixed monthly fee (premium), you are entitled to specific dental benefits, usually including x-rays, cleanings, regular checkups, and other services that promote general dental health. You can choose plans that offer a broader range of coverage, such as dental implants, oral surgery, or orthodontia, at a higher premium. With most plans, you can also choose to pay a higher percentage of the cost of services when you receive them, in exchange for a lower monthly premium.
Dental Insurance Plan Types Similar to medical insurance plans, dental insurance plans are often categorized as either Indemnity or managed-care plans. The primary differences are in out-of-pocket costs, choice of dental care providers, and how bills are paid.
Indemnity plans typically offer a broader selection of dental care providers than managed-care plans. With an indemnity plan, the carrier pays for covered services only after it receives a bill, which means that you may have to pay up front and obtain reimbursement from your insurance carrier later.
Managed-care plans typically maintain dental provider networks. Dentists participating in a network agree to perform services for patients at pre-negotiated rates and will usually submit the claim to the dental insurance company for you. In general, you'll have less paperwork and lower out-of-pocket costs with a managed-care dental plan and a broader choice of dentists with an Indemnity plan.