Dental Plans Do Have Their Limitations
Today’s health insurance, including your dental plan, is designed to help you get the care you need at a reasonable cost. Because each person’s oral health is different, costs can vary widely. To control dental treatment costs, most plans will limit the amount of care you can receive in a given year. This is done by placing a dollar “cap” or limit on the amount of benefits you can receive, or by restricting the number or type of services that are covered. Some plans may total exclude certain services or treatment to lower costs. Know specifically what services your plan covers and excludes.
There are, however, certain limitations and exclusions in most dental benefits plans that are designed to keep dentistry’s costs from going up without penalizing the patient. All plans exclude experimental procedures and services not performed by or under the supervision of a dentist, but there may be some less obvious exclusions. Sometimes dental coverage and health insurance may overlap. Read and understand the conditions of your dental plan. Exclusions in your dental plan may be covered by your medical insurance.
The Dental Consumer Advisor encourages consumers to choose plans that impose dollar or service limitations, rather than those that exclude categories of service. By doing so, you can receive the care that’s best for you and actively participate with the dentist in the development of treatment plans that give the most and highest quality care.
To help you stretch each dental benefit dollar, most plans provide patients and purchasers with special administrative services. Find out if your plan provides the following mechanisms to help you budget, analyze and dispute, if necessary, the costs of your dental care.
Predetermination of Costs –
Some plans encourage you or your dentist to submit a treatment proposal to the plan administrator before receiving treatment. After review, the plan administrator may determine: the patient’s eligibility; the eligibility period; services covered; the patient’s required co-payment; and the maximum limitation. Some plans require predetermination for treatment exceeding a specified dollar amount. This process is known as preauthorization, precertification, pretreatment review or prior authorization.
Although your dental benefits plan may not be bound to predetermined costs, this mechanism can help you and your dentist plan and budget a treatment plan appropriate to your oral health needs.
Annual Benefits Limitations –
To help contain costs, your plan may limit your benefits by number of procedures and/or dollar amount in a given year. In most cases, particularly if you’ve been getting regular preventive care, these limitations allow for adequate coverage. By knowing in advance what and how much your plan allows, you and your dentist can plan treatment that will minimize your out-of-pocket expenses while maximizing compensation offered by your benefits plan.
Peer Review for Dispute Resolution –
Many plans provide a peer review mechanism through which disputes between third parties, patients and dentists can be resolved, eliminating many costly court cases. Peer review is established to ensure fairness, individual case consideration and a thorough examination of records, treatment procedures and results. Most disputes can be resolved satisfactorily for all parties.
Premium adjustments and Reevaluations –
Patients and plan purchasers should insist on regular reviews of premium levels to ensure that UCR or Table of Allowances payment schedules are equitable. This analysis can help optimize your benefit levels, ensuring that every dollar you spend is used wisely.
oordination of Benefits –
If you are covered under two dental benefits plans, notify the administrator or carrier of your primary plan about your dual coverage status. Plan benefits coordination can help protect your rights and maximize your entitled benefits. In some cases you may be assured full coverage where plan benefits overlap, and receive a benefit from one plan where the other plan lists an exclusion.