September 6, 2014 by Tony Novak
Health insurance companies typically limit the risk of incurring a large claim at the beginning of a policy by imposing a waiting period for certain types of benefits. For example, it is common for immediate-issue mini-med policies to wave a 30 day waiting period before doctors visits were covered. The intent is to avoid having people buy the insurance the day before they have a doctor’s appointment and then dropping it after the treatment is complete. If this type of insurance coverage was available, the insurance would be unaffordable for many. By imposing the waiting period, the insurance premium cost becomes more manageable for a larger number of customers. In effect, the cost of medical care is spread out over more months of coverage.
In contrast, the Affordable Care Act specifically took the opposite approach. We read about hospitals and acute treatment facilities that boast about their efficiency with scheduling very expensive medical treatments only a few days after the new patient is enrolled in Obamacare. Claims exceeding $30,000 in the first month of the policy are not uncommon when enrollments are handled by insurance navigators or non-profit entities that are funded by a cancer treatment facilitator. We should be clear that this is a government policy decision specifically designed to extend medical care in our society, not meant as a smart insurance management procedure.
This brings us to dental care. Some types of dental coverage is included in Obamacare, but most is not included and must be purchased as supplemental coverage. My Web site FreedomBenefits.net receives a consistent flow of visitors who Google “dental insurance with no waiting period” or some variation of this. We can presume that the tooth already hurts and the individual is looking for the best way to afford the imminent necessary treatment. One published report in an insurance industry newsletter suggested that 98% of individuals who shop for dental insurance already have a dental problem that needs immediate treatment.
Most dental insurance policies include a waiting period for major treatment. This is still allowed by law. One of the few that does not is Core Dental Insurance. Core Dental Insurance works around this early claim risk by requiring a minimum commitment of 12 months of insurance coverage. We expected other dental insurance plans to follow in this same path, but that has not happened. Waiting periods are the rule, this one policy is the exception. This special feature does not mean that Core Dental Insurance is the obvious choice. In fact, we might presume that this is more of a marketing gesture and that other dental insurance policies might provide a better overall value to those who are not in immediate need of care.
An alternate approach for immediate dental care is to skip the insurance and simply negotiate the lowest cost of treatment and pay for this over time. Some people report success using the nation’s largest non-insurance dental discount plans through Careington. Careington offers a 30 day no-obligation trial so that is is possible to test the ability to save money on specific a dental plan of treatment before even committing to paying for the dental discount plan. Most people who try it do stay enrolled and opt to continue paying for the benefit beyond the initial test month. Enrollment materials are delivered faster do it is possible to enjoy the benefits of pre-negotiated pricing discounts almost immediately.
It has been my observation in working with individuals through OnlineNavigator service that discount dental plan gives more “bang for the buck” than dental insurance when the goal is to find the best way to pay for immediate dental care. In contrast, insurance works best when the plan is o spread out the cost of dental care over a few years.