A perk of being eligible for coverage through the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) is that you have several options for dental carriers and plans. With so many choices, your first thought might be to enroll in a FEDVIP dental plan that is seemingly less expensive. But comparing only the cost of monthly premiums for dental benefits won’t always mean you’ll get the coverage that’s best for you.
After all, dental insurance is about more than just cost. And sometimes, the cheapest option won’t save you money long-term. Your dental health is an important part of your overall health, so it’s essential to consider the whole picture when choosing your plan—just like you do with medical insurance.
Not sure where to start? That’s okay! First, understand these seven characteristics, which define any dental plan. Then, you’ll be better equipped to compare plans to pick the one that’s best for you.
1. Network Size and Freedom of Choice
In-network providers are dentists who contract with a dental plan and agree to offer you discounted rates, while out-of-network providers don’t.
As with medical insurance plans, your dental insurance network’s size can mean the difference between seeing a dentist you love and one you don’t. Bigger networks give you more choice in who you see for your dental care—and often, they also offer simple-to-use technology that helps you find in-network providers.
The type of plan matters too. Freedom of choice to use any licensed dental provider and the way providers get paid, can vary significantly between plans. Carefully review these factors when making your selection.
Your deductible is the amount you pay out-of-pocket before the dental plan begins to pay for certain services. Often, plans with low monthly premiums have higher deductibles—and vice versa.
Don’t forget to compare deductibles between plans. Even dental costs for common procedures like routine cleanings and exams could land squarely in your lap if your deductible is high.
3. Copay and Coinsurance
Also known as cost-sharing, your copays and coinsurance are amounts you may need to pay before or after you meet your deductible. For instance, you might have a designated copay required for certain services such as x-rays or cavity fillings.
These copay amounts can add up—and even outweigh the savings from a plan with cheaper premiums—so check each plan’s information to understand exactly what costs you’re responsible for paying.
4. Preventive Services
Routine dental care, such as cleanings and exams, can support your oral health, as well as other areas of your well-being, such as your heart health. Always check to see which preventive services are covered under the plan, from twice-a-year cleanings to regular x-ray imaging and more. For best coverage, look for plans that offer these preventive services more frequently.
5. Orthodontia Eligibility
Orthodontic care can be expensive, and not all dental plans cover it. Depending on your needs, you may want to make sure that the plan specifically states that it does cover orthodontia, such as braces or other dental devices.
This is particularly important for the kiddos, as many medical insurance plans that cover pediatric dental care may not cover orthodontia unless it’s medically necessary. Some dental plans even include orthodontia for adults, so if that’s something you want or need, you’ll want to ensure you consider that when selecting a plan.
6. Waiting Period
The day your coverage starts isn’t always the day you get your dental plan’s full benefits. Some policies have a waiting period before claims can be made. Always check to see whether your plan has a waiting period for preventive care and other services.
7. Claims Process
The ease with which you can file claims varies from plan to plan. Some policies work from a reimbursement model, where you pay your dentist for care and then wait to get reimbursed from the dental insurance carrier. This model can be more complicated, meaning you have to pay upfront, requiring additional work and paperwork from you, and requiring you to wait to get funds returned.
For other plans, the provider bills the insurance carrier directly and charges you only for your cost-sharing responsibilities—which is a more hassle-free process for you. For FEDVIP plans, claims are automatically submitted to your FSAFEDS account, if you have one.
Making Informed Choices from Your Benefits Dental Options
There’s a lot that goes into picking a dental plan for you and your family—and while price matters, choosing the lowest cost might not be the most cost-effective for you long-term. If you go into open enrollment more informed, you’ll be much more prepared to find the dental plan on BENEFEDS.com that’s right for you.
Like most group benefits programs, benefit programs offered by MetLife contain certain exclusions, exceptions, waiting periods, reductions, limitations and terms for keeping them in force. Ask your MetLife group representative for costs and complete details.
MetLife Federal Dental has two plans available for federal employees and military retirees eligible for FEDVIP. Learn more about MetLife’s comprehensive coverage at MetLife.com/FEDVIP-Dental.