What do dental benefits cost on a group basis or if I buy them directly as an individual?

For most the cost of dental benefits is less than your daily cup of coffee. Depending on what you buy that might be regular coffee or it might be Starbucks. (NOTE:  Costs will vary by area of the country and coverage.)

Individual policies are generally more expensive than a group policy and the coverage may also be somewhat limited. Individual policies generally do not cover orthodontia. There may also be other coverage limitations and/or waiting periods particularly for major procedures. The estimated national average monthly and annual dental premiums for individual products have not been collected since 2009. At that time they ranged from $4 to $15 more than similar group products for individuals and $20 to $35 more for family coverage.  

Depending on the type of dental benefit—DHMO, DPPO or Dental Indemnity, the employee’s premium is about the cost of having dinner out once a month—ranging from about $14 to $30.50 monthly or $168 to $366 on an annual basis in 2016[1]. Even at the high end of that range—dental benefits cost annually what medical premiums cost an individual on a monthly basis. Dental premiums for 2016 for employer groups with coverage are outlined below as national averages for typical group coverage for all size groups[2]:

Employee only:

  • DHMO -  $14.06 a month--$168.72 annually
  • DPPO - $24.49 a month--$293.88 annually
  • Indemnity - $30.57 a month--$366.84 annually

Employee & Family[3]:

  • DHMO -  $27.08 a month--$324.96 annually
  • DPPO - $48.36 a month--$580.32 annually
  • Indemnity -  $56.73 a month--$680.76 annually

Discount Dental Plan fees can range from a few dollars a month to $10 or $12 dollars a month for an individual or $20 to $30 a month for a family.  

[1] NADP 2016 Dental Benefits Report: Premium and Benefit Utilization Trends, February 2017

[2] NADP 2016 Dental Benefits Report: Premium and Benefit Utilization Trends, February 2017. Average of all groups is displayed; premiums for small groups (under 50) will usually be higher than the average shown here while the largest groups (500 or more) will be lower.

[3] Family coverage extends to the insured, spouse and dependents—no matter the number. There are usually separate, lower rates for an insured with a single dependent. So a family policy covers 3 or more individuals.

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