Dental Savings Plans – An Alternative to Dental Insurance?

May 15, 2018

We all know how confusing, complex, and often costly dental insurance can be. For many people, especially those fortunate enough to be offered dental insurance through a large employer, it can absolutely be worth it. But is it always? Let’s take a look!

What is a Dental Savings Plan (DSP)?

Many dental practices offer some sort of discount plan option to their self-pay patients. It’s basically an in-house version of dental insurance; though each office is likely to run theirs a bit differently, it usually involves paying a premium monthly or yearly in exchange for a set number of services.

In our office, we offer two types of plans. During the first visit, which includes a full complement of x-rays and a comprehensive exam, we would assess your overall level of gum health to determine the type of cleaning needed. At that point, you’d be eligible for either our continuing care plan – if all that’s needed is a traditional cleaning – or our periodontal maintenance plan, which is available for patients who require more intensive therapy. Each plan requires a premium payment upfront, which covers all preventive services at a 15% discount and guarantees that same discount on anything else that comes up over the course of the year. You’d then have the option to either enroll in the recommended plan or just take care of that day’s services once we’ve completed the initial exam.

How does it compare to dental insurance?

That really depends on your insurance and the savings plan available to you. For people with low premium payments and/or who need extensive dental work, dental insurance will often wind up saving you money. For those who only have high premium plans available, or patients who rarely need more than a simple dental filling, the total out of pocket cost starts to look a lot more similar. For example:

DSP out of pocket costs

Standard continuing care DSP annual premium at our office, first year: $390

Two surface filling with a 15% DSP discount: $241.40

Total out of pocket spend for the year: $631.40

Dental Insurance out of pocket costs

Monthly premium: $50

Two surface filling at a standard 80% benefit after deductible: $96.80

Total out of pocket spend for the year: $696.80

Dental insurance, while often a headache, is undoubtedly useful in many situations. If you ever need help determining your benefits or comparing your options, our administrative team is always happy to help!