Dental Savings Plan vs. PPO What’s Best for You?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
January 3, 2024

A young couple comparing a dental savings plan and PPOs

Choosing the right dental plan can significantly impact both your oral health and financial well-being. Options like dental savings plans and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) offer distinct approaches to managing oral health expenses. 

Learn more about the nuances of these plans and how to make the most informed choice based on your unique needs and circumstances.

Dental savings plans

Dental savings plans offer an alternative approach to traditional dental insurance. These plans don’t foot the bill for your dental expenses directly but instead provide a considerable discount on treatments through participating dentists. While they don’t cover the entire cost, they can significantly reduce the financial burden, particularly for routine procedures. One key advantage of savings plans is the absence of deductibles, waiting periods and annual maximums often found in insurance plans—which might be appealing for individuals seeking immediate access to dental services without administrative hurdles.

Individuals enrolled in dental savings plans typically pay an upfront annual fee, averaging around $100, granting them access to a network of dentists offering discounted rates. The savings range from 10-60% off the regular fees for various procedures. However, it’s crucial to note that for more extensive treatments or specialized procedures, participants may still shoulder a significant portion of the expenses. Contact participating dentists directly to inquire about the specific costs for various treatments so you can gauge the level of savings for required care.

Dental PPOs

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) are a widely used form of dental insurance offering a structured coverage model. With PPO dental plans, individuals pay a monthly premium, typically starting between $20 to $50 for an individual, in exchange for coverage of their dental expenses.

These plans operate on a network basis, providing full coverage for treatments received from in-network providers and offering partial benefits for services obtained from out-of-network dentists. This structure aims to incentivize individuals to seek care from affiliated dentists, where ‌coverage is more comprehensive and cost-effective. 

Unlike dental savings plans, PPOs come with deductibles and annual maximums, determining the out-of-pocket costs and coverage limits. The coverage percentage for various dental procedures typically falls into three classifications:

  • Preventive services such as routine cleanings and x-rays (full coverage, or high coverage percentage)
  • Basic services like fillings and root canals (partial coverage)
  • Major services such as crowns, implants or oral surgery (lower coverage percentage)

Some PPOs have a six to 12-month waiting period before full coverage kicks in for basic and major services. However, these can vary from plan to plan, so it’s critical to carefully review the terms of the specific PPO you’re considering. (Spirit offers no waiting periods for all dental categories).

How to choose the right plan

Finding the most suitable dental plan hinges on a few key factors revolving around your specific dental care needs and financial circumstances:

The nature and frequency of treatments you anticipate needing. If in the future you’ll require multiple or extensive procedures like root canals, crowns or oral surgery, a dental PPO could provide better coverage and financial assistance for comprehensive treatments in comparison to a dental savings plan.

The urgency of your dental care. Dental savings plans may be preferable if you need immediate care, since they typically have no waiting periods and offer discounted rates from the outset. This is particularly beneficial for people on Medicare or those currently unemployed seeking affordable immediate services.

The state of your oral health. If all you primarily need are occasional cleanings and exams, dental savings plans may be more advantageous. The discounted rates provided by these plans for routine procedures could be more cost-effective than paying higher monthly premiums for a PPO plan.

The gist

When it comes to choosing between Dental Savings Plans and PPO policies, the choice largely depends on your individual dental needs and financial preferences. PPO policies often cover a broader spectrum of procedures, offering a sense of security with long-term coverage for various dental issues that may arise. 

While many plans have waiting periods, there are plans available that offer immediate comprehensive coverage, giving peace of mind knowing you’re prepared for unforeseen dental needs. Spirit Dental provides a diverse range of options — including plans with no waiting period — to give you timely access to the care you need.

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