Your body does a pretty good job healing minor injuries such as scrapes and bruises. But dental damage is different. Minor dental problems won’t heal on their own. Instead, if left untreated, they’ll always grow worse over time. You’ll want to visit a dentist at the first sign of a dental problem — but dental insurance wait periods can limit your treatment options.
Here’s a closer look at Cigna dental waiting periods, how they might affect treatment and what other options you have for treating dental problems quickly:
How Dental Insurance Coverage Works
Cigna Dental Preventative is their most affordable plan. It covers 100% of preventative care, which typically involves twice-yearly cleanings, x-rays and a personal exam from your dentist. However, no restorative procedures are covered.
Their other two plans are Cigna Dental 1000 and Cigna Dental 1500. Both cover 100% of preventative care. They also provide $1,000 and $1,500, respectively, of restorative coverage. However, waiting periods and other limits may apply.
What Procedures Have Waiting Periods?
Restorative coverage is basically any non-preventative, non-cosmetic dental procedure. Cigna (and other companies) typically divide dental procedures into two categories: Basic and Major.
Basic procedures treat relatively common problems like cavities and gum disease. Fillings, deep cleanings and other straight-forward procedures are usually considered basic procedures. Insurance covers 80% of basic procedures.
Major procedures are more complicated. They include crowns, bridges, dentures, root canals, and full mouth procedures. Emergency repairs are also considered major procedures. Major procedures are typically covered at 50%.
Keep in mind, every insurance company uses its own criteria to determine whether a procedure is major or basic. Check with Cigna for specifics on each plan.
What Procedures have Wait Times?
Generally, many basic procedures and most major procedures will have some type of waiting period. For fillings, deep cleanings and other basic procedures, you’ll probably need to own the policy for at least six months. For major procedures, the waiting period can be up to a year.
Insurance companies understand the dental problems are easier to treat when treatment begins fast. So why place limits at all? Unfortunately, waiting periods are necessary. Otherwise, people could make a single insurance payment, file a claim for hundreds or even thousands worth of dental work, and then drop their policy before the second payment. Dental insurance companies wouldn’t be able to stay in business.
Does Dental Insurance Have Other Restrictions?
Waiting periods aren’t the only potential problem with insurance. Most policies also have restrictions on pre-existing conditions. If you had a dental problem which existed before you purchased the policy, it might be subjected to a waiting period – or it might not be covered at all. For example, treatments for missing teeth are almost never covered. That means no dentures, implants or many other common tooth replacement procedures.
Additionally, most dental policies have annual limits. Although limits vary by plan and provider, they generally range from $1,000 to $1,500. If you only need preventative care, the annual limit probably won’t affect you. But even just a routine procedure or two can max out your coverage for the entire year – and once it’s gone, you still have to pay monthly premiums or you’ll have a hard time renewing your policy the following year.
What Alternatives are Available to Traditional Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance isn’t for everybody. Typically, it makes the most sense for people with no dental problems who only need preventative care. Even a very basic policy will usually cover dental check-ups, cleanings, and x-rays. Many people find they spend less on dental insurance than they would pay for preventative care out-of-pocket.
But dental insurance is far less helpful if you have a problem which needs immediate treatment. At best, you’ll have to deal with waiting periods. At worst, the procedure you need might not be covered at all.
Dental Discount Plans, also referred to as Dental Savings Plans, are another way to save. For around $10 to $12 a month, you can join a plan where you’ll be issued a special membership card. Simply present the card at the offices of any of the 110,000+ participating dentists nationwide for instant savings at the time of service.
Unlike dental insurance, Cigna discount plans have no annual limits, no waiting periods and no restrictions on pre-existing conditions. Your discount card starts working about 72 hours after making your first payment. Plus, plans are available which cover not just you but your entire family.
Cigna dental insurance provides excellent coverage if you only need preventative care. But if you have existing dental problems which need treatment right away, a Cigna dental discount plan is the faster way to save.