Whether you're just looking for basic preventive care, you're anticipating more extensive dental work, or you're planning for braces for your little ones, buying supplemental dental insurance can be an affordable way to offset the costs of caring for your teeth. Fortunately, JHU has three options that cover preventive, basic, and major dental care needs for full-time employees and their eligible dependents—with prices as low as a few dollars a month.
Full-time faculty and staff and bargaining unit members can choose from two PPO (preferred provider organization) plans and one DHMO (dental health maintenance organization) plan, each of which offers different options and out-of-pocket costs.
One easy way to compare your options is by using JHU's myChoices comparison tool (unselect "medical" and leave "dental" selected to compare dental options). But here's a quick summary as well:
The CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield Dental Plan, a PPO, offers visits to in-network providers with no deductible (you'll get the same benefits for out-of-network care, though you'll encounter out-of-pocket costs, including a $50 out-of-network deductible). The plan covers 100 percent of allowable charges for diagnostic and preventive care, plus a portion of basic services, major services, and orthodontic care (just how much depends on whether they're in- or out-of-network). The maximum benefit is capped at $1,500 a year for dental care and has a lifetime cap of $1,500 for orthodontics.
CIGNA's Dental Plan is also a PPO plan, with no in-network deductible. Out-of-network care offers the same benefits but with out-of-pocket costs, including a $50 individual deductible and $100 family deductible. The plan covers 100 percent of the contracted rate for diagnostic and preventive care, plus a portion of basic services, major services, and orthodontic care (just how much depends on whether they're in- or out-of-network). The maximum benefit is capped at $1,500 a year for dental care and has a lifetime cap of $1,500 for orthodontics.
United ConcordiaPLUS is a DHMO that allows you to see in-network dental care providers with no out-of-pocket cost and no need to fill out claim forms. The only catch: It's offered only for those living in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania. There are no annual maximums, but there are some exclusions and limitations, so a close reading of what's covered—and what's not—is in order.
Unlike JHU's medical plans, dental plan premiums are the same regardless of your salary. Per-pay premiums range from $1.97 for an individual for BCBS's dental plan to $71.42 for Cigna's family plan, covering two adults and children.
What to think about when selecting?
Whom you'll see: If you have a dentist you love and don't want to leave, check first to see whether he or she is in-network for the available plans. If not, it may be worth choosing a PPO even though you may encounter out-of-pocket costs (including a small annual deductible for both PPO plans when you go out of network), and you may have to submit claim forms. If you're flexible on whom you see, DHMO might be the way to go.
What you'll likely need: Do you expect to use the plan only for emergencies and annual checkups? Do you think you may need more extensive work, such as bridges, crowns, or oral surgery? Will orthodontic coverage come in handy? Having a rough idea of how much you'll use your dental coverage might help you decide if it's worth the premium and also if those out-of-network costs are likely to pile up, should you decide to go out of network.
Who's eligible: Full-time faculty and staff and bargaining unit members and their eligible dependents.
When do I sign up? At hire, during Annual Enrollment (Oct. 20 to Nov. 7, 2017), or when you experience a qualified life event.
How do I pay for it? Payroll deduction.
Terms to know
Preferred provider organization (PPO): A health insurance organization that takes advantage of a network of providers who agree to provide service at an agreed-upon rate. PPOs cover care with out-of-network providers, but because such providers haven't agreed to a set rate, you may encounter out-of-pocket costs for any charges above the amount the PPO covers.
Health maintenance organization (HMO): A health insurance organization that offers service from select health care providers for a predetermined fee.
Diagnostic and preventive services: Cleanings, X-rays, oral exams, and office visits, among other services (see pages 103 to 105 of the JHU Health and Welfare Handbook for more detail).
Basic services: Fillings, root canals, periodontics, and oral surgery, among other services (see pages 105 to 106 of the JHU Health and Welfare Handbook for details).
Major services: Dentures, crowns, and bridges, among other services (see pages 107 to 108 of the JHU Health and Welfare Handbook for details).