How to find the best dental insurance plan for you
Anyone can benefit from dental insurance coverage–but not everybody has easy access to a group-sponsored dental insurance plan. Though employers aren’t legally required to offer dental insurance in the United States, nearly 60% of Americans enjoy dental insurance benefits from an employer or other group program¹. However, if you are self-employed, retired, or unemployed, you likely don’t have dental insurance provided by a group program typically available through work.
If dental insurance isn’t provided by your employer, or if your employer-provided benefits don’t meet your needs, consider purchasing dental insurance directly from an insurance carrier. With a Guardian Direct individual dental insurance PPO plan, you can still enjoy excellent dental benefits and a vast dental network at a very affordable price.
Learn how to find the right dental insurance for individuals so you can help save money on the cost of both preventive and emergency dental care.
What is individual dental insurance?
Like any dental insurance, individual dental insurance can help you budget for the cost of preserving your oral health and maintaining a great smile. Individual dental insurance can help cover all or a portion of the cost of different dental procedures, from preventative care such as cleanings to major procedures such as oral surgery. The main difference between individual dental insurance and employer-sponsored dental insurance is how you obtain coverage.
Individual dental insurance is dental coverage that can be purchased directly from a dental insurance carrier or on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. Unlike employer-sponsored plans, individual dental insurance lets you directly compare various plans and choose the one that best suits your individual needs and budget.
You may want to purchase an individual dental insurance plan if your current health insurance plan doesn’t include dental benefits, or if the benefits are too minimal for you and your family’s needs.
Even if your employer already provides a group-sponsored dental insurance plan, individual dental insurance may still be worth looking into. It can help supplement or replace your employer-sponsored plan if you’re dissatisfied with the level of coverage offered or the out-of-pocket costs associated.
Comprehensive dental plans for individuals: Freelancers, independent contractors, and self-employed
Even if you don’t receive dental insurance from your employer, purchasing individual dental insurance on your own can help reduce financial stress. A dental insurance plan can help you save money, stay protected in case of emergency, and help maintain proper oral health for an affordable monthly cost. Dental insurance helps cover the cost of regular dental care while also minimizing the costs of any unexpected dental procedures you might need.
Research shows that dental insurance can promote better oral health as well as improved overall health. The National Association of Dental Plans found that Americans with dental benefits are more likely to take their children to the dentist, go to the dentist, receive restorative care, and experience greater overall health². The same study also found that those without dental benefits are 67% more likely to have heart disease, 50% more likely to have osteoporosis, and 29% more likely to have diabetes.
While obtaining dental insurance is worth considering for anyone, certain groups stand to benefit even more from individual dental insurance.
Freelancers and the self-employed
More than 6% of American workers are self-employed³ and over 40 million Americans of all ages consider themselves consultants, freelancers, contractors, solopreneurs, temporary or on-call workers⁴.
Many freelancers or self-employed individuals typically don’t receive dental insurance from a group plan, and even comprehensive health insurance plans typically do not include full coverage dental benefits, if any. But without dental insurance, a dental emergency can turn into a financial disaster. Taking care of your dental health may not feel like a major priority, but maintaining dental insurance coverage as a freelancer can help prevent potential out-of-pocket costs from hurting your bottom line.
Dental insurance can help lower the cost of procedures like fillings, extractions, crowns, and root canals through negotiated rates with a network of dentists and by covering a percentage of the cost of dental care.
Over 10,000 baby boomers are retiring each day⁵, and many leave employer-sponsored health and dental insurance plans as they enter retirement. While some Medicare Advantage plans do offer dental benefits, Original Medicare does not cover most dental care, including cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, and dentures⁶. Individual dental insurance can help supplement Medicare health coverage.
And research shows that seniors could really use better dental care. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 2 in 3 adults aged 65 years or older have gum disease, and about 1 in 5 have untreated tooth decay⁷. Dental insurance can help older adults better afford treatment for these conditions.
As many 26-year-olds age out of their parents’ healthcare plans⁸, many turn to private health and dental insurance plans for coverage. 26-year-olds who are unemployed, working part-time, or self-employed may not have employer dental coverage or may desire better or less expensive coverage than what their employer offers. Individual dental insurance plans offer 26-year-olds the ability to find coverage that suits their lifestyle and budget as they shop for their own plans for the first time.
Like freelancers and the self-employed, unemployed Americans who don’t qualify for dental coverage through an employer can still find affordable private dental insurance that suits their coverage needs – and for those who are unemployed or between jobs, planning financially is crucial.
How much does dental insurance cost?
To enjoy individual dental insurance benefits, typically you’ll pay a set monthly or annual cost to your insurance carrier. This is called a premium. Your premium amount will depend on your state, how many individuals are covered by your plan, the tier of plan you choose, including exclusions and limitations your plan may have, among other factors.
Guardian Direct® offers three tiers of PPO individual insurance plans, starting at $20/month, depending on your state and plan type. Costs vary by state and available plan type selected.
Guardian Direct's® Top-Tier plan covers preventive care at 100%, basic care up to 70%, major care up to 50%, and child braces (to members under age 19 only) up to 50%. This plan includes all Guardian Direct benefits in one plan, making it the dental insurance plan for individuals looking for maximum coverage. Coverage is subject to waiting period requirements and maximum benefit amounts.
Guardian Direct's® Mid-Tier plan covers preventive care at 80%, basic care at up to 50%, and major care, such as root canals, crowns, and implants at up to 50%. With many benefits wrapped up in one plan, it’s ideal for people looking for a lot of dental coverage. Coverage is subject to waiting period requirements and maximum benefit amounts.
Guardian Direct's® Entry-Tier plan covers preventive care such as cleanings and X-rays at up to 100%. They also cover basic procedures such as fillings at up to 50%. This is the most affordable coverage option at Guardian Direct, ideal for people on a budget who still want to save on preventative dental care. Coverage is subject to waiting period requirements and maximum benefit amounts. Note that Starter plans are not available in all states. Get a dental insurance quote here to review the most affordable option available to you.
Monthly premium amounts aren’t the only costs involved when it comes to dental insurance. You’ll also want to check your policy carefully to learn about copay amounts, coinsurance, deductibles, and annual maximums. Typically, if you choose a plan with a higher premium, you’ll pay less in out-of-pocket costs when visiting an in-network provider, and vice versa.
Note that while dental insurance helps to cover a portion of many dental procedures, it does not cover all of them. Cosmetic procedures such as teeth whitening and bonding typically are not covered by dental insurance. Procedures performed before your waiting period is up will not be covered by your dental insurance either. You will be responsible for the full cost of treatment for procedures not covered by your plan, so look through your policy carefully.
Individual dental insurance plans & Insights:
Ready to start shopping for an individual dental insurance plan? With instant approvals and guaranteed acceptance, you can get a free dental insurance quote and enroll in a plan today. Dental insurance is available for purchase online 24/7, with no need to wait for open enrollment periods.
We’ve compiled a list of resources to help you learn more about dental insurance for individuals, how much dental insurance typically costs, and self-employed dental insurance. Visit the links below to learn how to find a dental insurance plan for individuals that suits your needs.
What should you expect to pay for dental insurance? Learn how much dental insurance costs.
Where should you start looking to buy dental insurance? Dental insurance is available for purchase online.
Are you self-employed and looking to purchase individual dental insurance? Learn more about self-employed dental insurance.
Is purchasing individual dental insurance a good idea for you? Learn whether dental insurance is really worth it in your stage of life.
Insights for the people.
Join our new digital insurance community that includes tips, resources and useful information from Guardian Direct.
https://www.whydental.org/about/industry-overview (Last accessed April 2021)
https://www.whydental.org/about/industry-overview (Last accessed April 2021)
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t09.htm, accessed April 2021
https://www.mbopartners.com/state-of-independence, accessed April 2021
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/10/03/health-care-dilemma-10000-boomers-retiring-each-day.html, accessed April 2021
https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/dental-services, accessed April 2021
https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/adult-oral-health/adult_older.htm, accessed April 2021