Dental insurance open enrollment

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Is there an open enrollment period for dental insurance?

If you’ve ever signed up for health insurance before, you’re probably familiar with open enrollment periods. When it comes to some types of insurance, you can’t just sign up at any old time – you have to either wait for a certain time of the year or for a qualifying life event that allows you to skip typical open enrollment periods. So, if you’re looking for dental insurance, will you have to wait for an open enrollment period?

Not all dental insurance plans are subject to open enrollment periods, but some are. You may have to wait for dental insurance open enrollment if you get your dental insurance through a group plan provided by your employer, or if you’re enrolling in Medicare and would prefer to bundle your health and dental coverage. Through private insurance, you can enroll in dental insurance any time throughout the year as long as you are of legal age, typically 18 years of age.

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Enroll in dental insurance

Enrolling in a quality dental insurance plan can help you and your family save on the costs of routine dental treatment as well as any major dental treatment you may require. If you don’t currently have a dental insurance plan that covers you and your family, it’s possible to enroll in one at any time of the year.

Many Americans with dental benefits receive them through their employer. In fact, of the 172.8 million Americans with private dental coverage, about 93% get their benefits through an employer or other group program¹. Check with your employer’s human resources department to find out what sort of dental insurance plans are offered, if any, and how to sign up for them. Depending on your employer’s group plan, you may be able to sign up for dental benefits at any time or you may have to wait for a designated open enrollment period.

If your employer does not offer dental benefits, you still have options for obtaining affordable coverage. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to enroll in a dental plan through the Affordable Care Act or Medicare. If so, you’ll have to wait for applicable open enrollment periods or a qualifying life event.

If you are dissatisfied with the dental benefits your employer offers, you’re ineligible for dental insurance through Medicare, or you’d simply appreciate the freedom of choosing a dental plan that best suits your family’s needs, you can also enroll in individual dental insurance.

Individual dental insurance is available for purchase directly through an insurance carrier, 24/7, 365 days a year. Enrolling in any type of insurance plan used to be a laborious process, with complicated underwriting that could take weeks or even months. But nowadays, underwriting for certain insurance such as dental has evolved to make the decision and approval process take mere minutes. With Guardian Direct®, you can request a quote, choose your plan, pay with a credit card or ACH transfer, and enroll in a plan online – no need to speak to a representative unless you want to, provide health data, or wait for open enrollment periods. Once enrolled, and when coverage kicks in, you can start using your benefits toward preventive dental care typically as soon as the first of the next calendar month.

When is dental insurance open enrollment?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily have to wait for open enrollment periods to obtain affordable dental insurance. Open enrollment periods are a yearly period where people can enroll in a health insurance plan². It typically falls from mid-November to mid-December, though some states have extended their health insurance open enrollment periods for 2021³. Current open enrollment period is scheduled to end on August 15, 2021.

To enroll in health insurance coverage for the following year, you typically must wait for open enrollment periods or qualifying life events, which may include loss of health coverage, getting married or divorced, having a baby, moving to a different ZIP code, changes in your income that affect the coverage you qualify for, and other instances⁴.

Depending on the type of life event you experience, you may have 60 days before or 60 days following the event to enroll in a plan⁵.

If you are planning on obtaining dental benefits either by purchasing a Marketplace health plan that includes dental coverage or purchasing a stand alone dental plan on the Marketplace, you must wait for the open enrollment period or a qualifying life event to do so.

If eligible, you can enroll in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time⁶. Both Medicaid and CHIP provide dental benefits for children, while dental benefits for adult Medicaid enrollees are determined by your state⁷.

Again, those who are interested in enrolling in dental insurance are not limited to those open enrollment periods unless they are getting dental insurance through an employer or bundling with other health coverage. If you purchase individual dental insurance through an insurance carrier, enrollment is open year-round.

Can you get dental insurance at any time?

You can enroll in dental insurance at any time through a private dental insurance carrier. That means if you don’t have dental insurance or your coverage unexpectedly ends, you don’t have to go without coverage for months waiting for an open enrollment period – you can enroll today within minutes. This can be very beneficial since studies have shown that Americans with dental benefits are more likely to go to the dentist, take their children to the dentist, receive restorative care, and experience greater overall health⁸. Having good dental insurance can help you pay for dental care that may be required before certain dental conditions become more serious or more difficult to treat.

Whether you’re just looking to help pay for preventive care or you think you may need basic or major services like crowns, dentures, bridges, or even orthodontic treatment, you can find a dental insurance plan to help. (And since you never really know when more serious dental problems may arise, it’s best to purchase dental insurance before you need to use it!)

Can I get dental insurance outside of open enrollment?

If you’re looking to purchase dental insurance outside of open enrollment, you have a few options for doing so. If you’re planning on purchasing dental insurance along with health insurance through the ACA or Medicare, you can do so if you experience a qualifying life event. You can also do so during Special Enrollment Periods, such as the one instated due to the COVID-19 emergency.

If you’re interested in enrolling in a dental insurance group plan offered by your employer, talk to your benefits department to discuss your options and whether or not you will have to wait for an open enrollment period to do so.

Otherwise, you can always purchase dental insurance directly from an insurance carrier any time of the year, without having to worry about open enrollment periods.

Guardian Direct offers three different levels of plans to suit your coverage needs. With guaranteed acceptance, instant approval, and individual dental insurance plans starting at $20 per month⁹, you can enroll in an affordable policy within minutes. Guardian Direct offers a network of over 100,000 dentists, plus the flexibility for all family members under the same plan to choose their own dentists. Explore Guardian Direct’s vast dental network and find a dentist here.

When can I enroll in dental insurance? – Insights

With individual dental insurance, you can enroll whenever you’d like... but the sooner you enroll, the sooner you’ll start enjoying coverage. Most dental insurance involves waiting periods of anywhere from 6-24 months before the plan will begin paying out benefits for certain services. If you receive dental treatment before your waiting period has passed, you may have to pay all costs entirely out-of-pocket. Guardian Direct dental insurance plans have no waiting periods on preventative treatment.

When it comes to dental insurance, you’ll typically enjoy the most savings by purchasing it before you need it rather than waiting for a serious dental problem to arise and figuring out how to pay for it.

We’ve compiled a few resources to help you learn more about the dental insurance enrollment process.

This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.


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  9. Costs vary by state and available plan type selected