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Health Insurance Glossary

Definitions for common health insurance terms

dental insurance

DEFINITION: Dental insurance is insurance that covers dental care. Dental insurance has long been separate from medical insurance, although employers often offer a benefit package that includes both medical and dental insurance.

Dental insurance is often provided in conjunction with vision insurance, with both types of care covered under a single plan.

The Affordable Care Act included pediatric dental as one of the law’s essential health benefits, but the coverage can either be embedded in a medical insurance plan (as is the case in some states that have mandated it), or it can be offered as a separate, stand-alone policy. Adult dental insurance coverage is not required under the ACA

Dental insurance plans typically have deductibles that must be paid before treatment is provided. They also have benefit caps that limit how much the insurance plan will pay for adult dental care, and there is no limit to how high your out-of-pocket costs can be for adult dental care. For pediatric dental treatment, however, those are reversed: out-of-pocket costs are limited, and insurance benefits (the amount the insurance company will pay) are unlimited.