If you have dental insurance, you know that it generally has an annual maximum benefit and that it typically will not cover most of the costs related to major procedures. If you have standard dental insurance, it's unlikely to cover dental implants, period. That’s because dental insurance companies usually consider such implants a cosmetic procedure. However, you can proactively seek a type of dental insurance that may pay for implants and other dental procedures. If you suspect you’ll need dental implants, start looking for indemnity dental plans now.
Dental implants serve as a substitute for your tooth root. Made of titanium, these implants anchor the replacement tooth much as a tooth root does. Dental implants require surgical insertion into either the upper or lower jawbones. The entire process may take up to nine months, as bone must grow around the implant after insertion to keep it stable. Depending on your area of the country, an implant plus the required crown and related work can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per tooth. Megido actually lists the average dental implant cost in the United States as $5,000.
Dental Indemnity Plans
Dental indemnity plans allow you to go to any dentist for services. You pay for the service, and the insurer reimburses you. Some dental indemnity plans, which cost more than standard dental insurance, will cover dental implants. That’s a question you must ask the dental indemnity insurance provider up front. Some dental indemnity plans may cover part of the cost of a dental implant, such as the crown.
Medical Insurance and Dental Implants
In some cases, your medical insurance policy may pay for a dental implant. However, that is usually because of the reason for the implant, such as damaging a tooth in an accident. While most health insurance companies will not cover dental implants, and Medicare does not do so, it is always worth pursuing coverage with your health insurer if the circumstances of your tooth loss might warrant consideration.
Health Savings Account
If you have a Health Savings Account, you can use those funds to pay for your dental implants. You might arrange to maximize your HSA contributions for the year and ask your dentist to bill you each month over the time you are having the work done so you can add extra money to the account and not deplete all your savings at once.
Consider the Alternatives
If you cannot obtain insurance coverage for a dental implant, consider alternatives for which your insurer might pay. Alternatives to dental implants include partial dentures and bridges, which insurance should cover. Neither bridges nor partial dentures last as long as a dental implant, so it is conceivable that an insurance company could pay twice for such a procedure rather than once for a dental implant.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.