Updated - February 16, 2022
In 2018, data from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) shared information that highlights an important message: oral health is a paramount in preserving our overall health. Every year, about 12,300 people end up in emergency rooms in British Columbia. Their dental issues may be non-traumatic, but are still preventable.
What's more, these ailments afflict children and adults alike. When this article was first published in 2017, in Richmond alone, one in every five preschoolers suffers from tooth decay. In 2019, that number rose and now two in 5 preschoolers have tooth decay. In adults, almost eight in every 10 of those aged 30 or older battle with some type of gum disease.
So, if these dental problems are preventable, why the high prevalence? Well, one is because of the high cost of dental care.
Enter BC dental insurance plans. These products aim to reduce the high expenses associated with dental services.
Not all dental plans are created equally though. Some offer partial coverage, while others provide full coverage.
Here, we'll guide you through the process of choosing the best dental plan in BC.
Why Having a Dental Insurance in British Columbia Makes Sense
Consider this for a minute.
Whenever you have toothaches, the pain can be unbearable. Eating, smiling, and even speaking can be a hassle.
Swollen gums don't feel any better. They can make biting, chewing, and brushing your teeth much more difficult.
That's not all.
As this detailed publication suggests, studies have established a connection between oral health and overall health. Findings suggest that poor dental health can affect one's physical and mental health. From heart diseases to diabetes to stroke - there are so many diseases linked to poor oral health.
No wonder then, that oral diseases cost Canada $1 billion in productivity losses!
All that should remind you to better look after your teeth and gums. However, British Columbia's ever-increasing dental care costs make that more difficult. BC's public health insurance doesn't offer much help in dental services either.
This is why more and more people are turning to private dental insurance in BC. With one of these plans, you can lower the total costs of your needed oral health care treatments.
By having access to more affordable treatments, you can improve your oral health.
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Why Consider a Dental Plan Even with Your MSP Coverage?
To further realize the value of dental insurance, let's talk about the government dental plan.
BC has its own public health insurance, called the Medical Services Plan (MSP). It's a legal requirement for anyone who's eligible for it.
MSP covers only the cost of medically-necessary services from doctors, dentists, and surgeons. If you need dental or oral surgery, you need to have the procedure done in a hospital. An MSP-registered surgeon also needs to order it for your coverage to kick in.
That means restorative services, such as dental fillings, aren't covered by MSP. Neither are root canals, crowns, or bridges.
Even the extraction of impacted wisdom teeth isn't covered. Unless you need to have it surgically-removed in a hospital, you won't qualify for the coverage.
Orthodontic services are only covered if they're associated with severe congenital facial abnormalities. That means you can expect out-of-pocket expenses to correct an issue such as an under or overbite that's causing pain.
As you can see, MSP coverage for dental care isn't enough for your oral health needs. That's because it doesn't even cover basic maintenance and preventative services. These treatments and services are essential for optimal oral health.
BC Dental Insurance 101
The primary goal of dental plans is to help cover the costs of insured dental services. Insured here means the treatments/services covered by the plan.
Most standard dental insurance packages cover you for a specific percentage. Depending on the type of plan you get, you may still pay a portion of the total cost. However, you'll still pay for far less than if you didn't have a dental plan.
For instance, you'll find basic plans that cover up to 80% of basic and preventive dental services. That includes oral exams, cleanings, dental fillings, and root canals.
For more specialized procedures, such as crowns and bridges, basic plans may cover up to 50% of the cost. Most standard plans also provide the same coverage for veneers and dentures.
You'll then be responsible for the remainder of the costs. If you need services or treatments not covered by the plan, you'll be responsible for their costs too.
Note that some plans offer greater coverage though. You'll even find companies offering full dental coverage. At the same time, you'll also encounter plans offering less than the standard coverage.
This then brings us to the next crucial question: How do you choose the best coverage?
Base Your Plan Choice on Your Specific Needs
The "best" BC dental plans vary from person to person or family to family. That's because you and your loved ones have different and unique needs and situations. For this reason, you need to consider both current and future dental needs before choosing a plan.
Suppose you're only looking for an individual dental plan. Your oral health, in general, is in good condition. In this case, then a basic plan covering preventative care and services may already be enough for you.
If you think you'll need major dental work in the future, then a more comprehensive plan may be a better choice. That way, you can expect lower out-of-pocket expenses for such high-cost procedures.
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Factors in Plan Costs
There are three types of dental insurance costs you should be aware of. There's the premium (often paid monthly), deductibles, and copayments.
Some plans won't ask you to pay for all three, but you'd still need to pay your monthly premiums to remain insured.
If you choose a plan that requires deductibles and copayments, be sure to find out how much these are.
These are the amounts you need to pay before your insurance starts covering you.
For example, your plan's yearly deductible is set at $400. That means you need to first pay for that amount before your plan takes over the rest. As long as the costs over that $400 are for insured services, your plan will pay for it.
Keep in mind that there are annual policy limits though. Make sure to check this as well before you sign that dotted line.
Copayments are the portion of treatment costs you're responsible for. If your plan's copayment for dental services is $20, then that's how much you'll pay when you see your dentist.
The bottom line is, you should choose a dental plan that fits your monthly budget. That way, you don't have to worry about losing your coverage because of missed premium payments.
Consider Your Current Dentist
Not all dentists have affiliations with dental plan providers. As such, if you want to keep seeing your current dentist, ask them which insurer they're affiliated with.
This is particularly important if you have young children. It can be hard for them to switch dentists, as they may feel uncomfortable with someone new.
Your Current Personal Health Insurance Policy
Be sure to check your private health insurance policy, if you have one. Apart from your MSP, your employer is most likely giving you some form of health coverage. This may be part of your employee benefits.
You will want to check your employer-sponsored coverage for any dental coverage. Depending on the plan, you may already be eligible for covered dental treatments!
This is especially true for holders of certain Manulife health insurance plans. Some Green Shield health insurance products also include coverage for certain dental services.
By knowing this, you can avoid overbuying insurance. Sure, you may want to over-insure a little, but keep in mind that can be quite expensive. To keep unnecessary costs at bay, determine what dental services you're covered for.
From here, you'll have a better idea of what individual dental insurance plan to get.
Pro Tip: If you're going to leave your current job soon, it's best to get your own personal insurance plans. Remember, quitting means letting go of your employer-sponsored benefits as well.
Explore and Compare All Your Options
Once you have a clearer picture of what you want from a dental plan, next is to start shopping around! Fortunately, comparison websites make finding the best dental plan easier for you.
You only need to specify what your unique needs are, and they'll help you locate plans based on these. You'll even get access to rates, which makes finding the most affordable plan even faster.
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Affordable Dental Care Is Possible with Dental Insurance
BC dental insurance doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. By determining your needs, you can fit a dental plan into your monthly budget.
Take the step now to improved oral health. Start comparing your options as soon as possible to secure the best plan with the most affordable rates.
If you need any help, let us know. We'll be more than happy to walk you through finding a plan tailored to your specific needs.