Dental Discount Plans Reviews: Figuring Out Dental Discount Plan Features


Accurate dental discount plans reviews are pretty hard to find. So it may be up to you to compare the features each plan has. Here's a brief check list to follow BEFORE YOU SIGN UP:

1. The yearly fee. This is the fee that is paid to the dental plan network, not to the dentist. It's basically a kind of "finders fee" (dentists and other medical providers cannot pay for referrals, so this is really the only way for the networks to cover their administrative and promotional costs). The current national average is around $100, but each network varies, so review the fee table provided. This may be important if all the other issues are the same, but remember, a $20 to even $50 difference may not be that important compared to other factors. (Continued After Table...)


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CATEGORY DESCRIPTIONS FEES METRO AREA STATE
DIAGNOSTIC D0120 Periodic oral evaluation $33 National Sample NA
DIAGNOSTIC D0150 Comprehensive oral evaluation $53 National Sample NA
DIAGNOSTIC D0274 X-Ray: Bitewings-4 films $49 National Sample NA
PREVENTIVE D1110 Prophylaxis-adult $58 National Sample NA
RESTORATIVE D2140 Amalgam filling-1 surface, primary or permanent $88 National Sample NA
RESTORATIVE D2330 Resin-based filling composite 1 surface, anterior $108 National Sample NA
RESTORATIVE D2750 Crown-porcelain fused to high noble metal $760 National Sample NA
ENDODONTICS D3330 Molar (excluding final restoration) $780 National Sample NA
PERIODONTICS D4341 Periodontal scaling and root planing, 4 or more teeth, per quad. $181 National Sample NA
PROSTHODONTICS D5110 Complete denture-maxillary $850 National Sample NA


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2. The dentists who are part of the network. In a way, a dentist's decision to join these dental discount networks are more of "how busy am I" decision. This is not necessarily a measure of how good the dentist is as recent economic conditions have shown. All dentists have busy and slow times and keeping their schedules full is a major challenge at times. Joining dental discount plans (typically as they review their financials) is one way to balance the load. But if you have special needs, or feel better about a certain type of dentist and staff, then having a larger pool from which to select is key. Looking at and then contacting dentists on the plans provider list is a good second step in the comparison process. By the way, stay away from plans that don't disclose the dentist. They could be part of a scam or at the least, not very dependable. (See item

3. The fees that are charged. Each network will vary in the treatment fee schedule they have negotiated with a particular dentist. Dental discounts can vary by geographic area and based on the number of participating dentists. And it's possible that some of the fees may not have been negotiated up front so that in some cases only a percentage off normal fees may apply without being specific about the actual fee. Other treatments and processes, particularly those which the dentist has no direct control such as laboratory costs and specialists such as orthodontists, may not be part of the plan. And many of the networks do not provide a full treatment fee schedule until you join, making comparison difficult. One method is to contact the individual dentist listed on the plan and ask them for their fees under this plan. You can then review and compare them with other dentists under different plans. (A great way to get a start on this is to consult the table below from www.allpricer.com, which provides a sampling of these rates from different networks and also in different areas.)

4. Any extras or advantages. Some of the networks provide totally free services such as exams and limited (usually bitewing) xrays. This can be a great help in determining who to go with.

5. When you'll need treatment. All plans have a yearly renewal on the membership, although some will run specials to extend it. That means if you decide not to purchase the membership for another year, you'll likely want to get as much known treatment done within the membership year. The best option is to continue paying it, particularly with plans that include free exams and x-rays. That way you essentially get the membership for free if you end up seeing the dentist for regular checkups (as you should!).

6. Confirming from whom you're buying. Many of these network memberships (because that's what they are, a membership to a discount network, not insurance), are in effect resold through "independent business operators" or resellers. To be fair, no company can control what an employee says, but they have less control over what are indepedent contractors. If you purchase through another entity, it would be wise to first confirm who that group is and what their relationship is to the network provider. If possible, get a customer service number or email that would be used after you join and contact the company directly and confirm the terms and pricing you are being offered. It's a great way to see what they're "after sale" support is like before you purchase.

Other comparison factors include:
-Dental discount plans reviews from other members, if you can find them and they are truthful (some sites allow companies to pay for favorable reviews so be careful about putting too much stock in them).

-How long a particular dentist has been on the program. Longer means they are more likely to stay on it, and not just using it to "fill in" during slow times.

-When the network was started since it's longevity will also help determine the dentist's loyalty.

-How well known the network is. As noted above there have been some "scams" in this area with networks collecting fees and not really having the dentists signed up; again checking with individual dentist who are promoted to be on the plan.

-Finding any complaints or issues. Unfortunately, dental discount plans are not often regulated since they aren't technically insurance. However, some states are now considering or in the process of providing this oversight. You can check with the Better Business Bureau or do the normal searches on the internet for reviews, opinions and complaints.

-If it is a combined plan, like for vision and dental, make sure you need and can benefit from the discounts. If not, then ignore the areas you don't need and evaluate the plan savings on the treatments you require.

-Use common sense. If a plan offers prices that are too good to be true, then they likely aren't. Even some reputable plans can claim large discounts because certain items like exams, x-rays and cleanings may be heavily discounted or free. Again, check with an individual provider or a few and review fees before you commit to a particular plan.

Here are some other considerations about dental discount plans and dental treatment in general you may wish to explore:

- Figuring out how much treatment you'll need
- When is the best timing for your treatment
- Deciding the best treatment approach
- How to choose a dentist
- How to pay for your dental treatment