Dental Benefits for Unemployed Individuals

by Francine Richards ; Updated July 27, 2017

Unemployed individuals can find dental benefits through several resources. If you were recently unemployed, you may have the option to continue on your current dental plan. If not, you can seek and apply for an individual dental policy through an insurer. If you cannot afford private insurance and are not eligible for continuation of coverage through your previous employer, you may be eligible for government-sponsored dental insurance.

Individual Insurance

Individual dental insurance is an option for the unemployed, underemployed, self-employed or those whose employer does not offer dental coverage. Several insurers offer separate standalone individual and family dental plan options. Rates will vary based on type of plan and the coverage you select. Typically, the higher the deductible amount, the lower the policy premium. To obtain quotes and apply for coverage, visit the websites of several dental insurance carriers.


If you lose your job and had dental benefits through your employer, you may be eligible to continue on those benefits for up to 18 months. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) requires most employers to extend coverage to those terminated employees. This includes any health insurance such as medical or dental benefits. You will receive paperwork to sign up for COBRA, if available. Although your employer may offer COBRA coverage, they may discontinue paying a portion of the premium, leaving you to cover the entire cost.

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Government-Sponsored Benefits

Financially needy unemployed individuals not eligible for COBRA or who have exhausted this coverage may be able to obtain benefits through their state government. States offer medical assistance programs, generally called Medicaid, to qualifying individuals and their families. You must show lack of income to meet eligibility requirements. States offer full coverage medical plans, many including dental benefits and programs. If you do not qualify for Medicaid but have children, ask your state department of insurance about dental options for your children. Your children will be able to receive benefits, even if you do not qualify.

Bottom Line

You should be able to obtain dental coverage if you are unemployed. You should realize it might cost more out-of-pocket than the dental benefits you had through your employer. If you have uninsured children but do not have a job, you can obtain coverage for them through your state plans. You may also want to meet with a licensed insurance agent who can research options and obtain quotes for different plans for you.

About the Author

Francine Richards is a licensed multi-state insurance agent with years of human resources and insurance industry experience. Her work has appeared on Blue Cross Blue Shield websites and newsletters, the Houston Chronicle and The Nest. Richards holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Maryland.

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