While it’s ultimately your choice to purchase a dental insurance plan, this blog will outline the cost of treatment without coverage and the most popular types of dental plans to help you make the best decision.
In preparing to become an international student, it’s likely you’ve been warned about how expensive medical treatment can be in the United States, but did you know that dental treatment is also very expensive? In addition to being pricy, dental insurance and health insurance policies are completely separate plans. What this means is that your student health insurance plan can cover doctor visits and potential hospitalizations, but more than likely won’t cover your bills if you were to chip a tooth, get a cavity, or need a root canal.
Let’s Talk Numbers
It’s a natural feeling to assume you won’t need to visit a dentist while outside of your home country, but the reality is that insurance is generally used in unexpected situations and ‘worse case scenarios.’ It’s rarely bought when someone knows they’ll use it. To add a bit of perspective, the bullets below indicate average costs of dental treatment without insurance according to DentalPlans.com.
Routine 6 Month Visit: $220
Full Mouth X-Rays: $296
Adult Teeth Cleaning: $398
Root Canal: $971
*Pro Tip: These prices are meant to be guidelines. The cost of procedures will vary by location and the specific dentist visited. This means your visit could ultimately be more affordable or more expensive.
Traditional Dental Plans vs. Discount Dental Plans
While you’re still trying to decide if dental insurance is a good investment, it’s important to understand how this type of coverage works in the United States and what your options are. This is especially true if you’ll be personally responsible for paying for your dental treatment. Don’t worry – you have two viable options!
Option #1 – Traditional Dental Plans
Traditional dental insurance plans will likely cost about $50 per month but will vary depending on the company offering the plan and the coverage it includes. In most cases, dental insurance plans will provide a certain dollar amount of coverage for specific services and any amount over this will need to be paid out of pocket. It’s important to keep in mind that insurance policies will always have exclusions (meaning things that won’t be covered by the plan), so pick up the phone and speak to someone if you need help. This will help ensure your questions are answered and the plan will ultimately cover the bills you’re expecting it to.
Option #2 – Discount Dental Plans
Commonly referred to as dental savings plans, these types of plans require you to pay an annual fee (about $150 a year or so) and then in turn, you receive about 10% – 60% discount on specific dental care at select dentists. One additional benefit with discount dental plans is that you’re able to purchase them in the event you need something specific done, such as a tooth extraction. This can come in handy if you decide against a dental insurance plan but ultimately need some kind of coverage later on.
*Pro Tip: As with any insurance product, shopping around for the best rate and coverage may be time consuming, but will likely result in significant cost savings over time. Trust us, it’s worth the effort.
The Bottom Line
Think of dental insurance like the umbrella – you may not expect to need it on any given day, but it sure does come in handy from time to time.
As with most things in life, the answer to the question ‘Do international students need dental insurance?’ isn’t black and white. On one hand it’s possible that you buy dental insurance and never use it, but on the other you could end up using it several times (and each time thank your lucky stars). What we can be sure of, is that dental visits in the US don’t come cheap and it’s always good to hope for the best but prepare for the worst!
Want to learn more? Check out various Dental Discount Plans!