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dental insurance

What is dental insurance?

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. Dental insurance coverage options varies by state.

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.

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Learn how dental insurance works, typical costs of dental coverage and where you can shop for individual and family dental plans – embedded or stand-alone. Get a free dental quote.
For those who buy their own insurance, the decision to purchase dental coverage is not always as clear-cut as the decision to buy health insurance.
Adult out-of-pocket dental costs depend entirely on the amount of dental care you need during a year. But for children, the ACA limits out-of-pocket dental costs.
In general, orthodontia is only covered if it is deemed medically necessary, and regulations vary from one state to another.

If it's time for a return to the dentist's office, these five considerations can help you decide which dental coverage is right for you.