Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Delta Dental has the best dental insurance for braces

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Braces and other orthodontic treatments can be a significant out-of-pocket expense—usually about $3,000 to $6,000 or more. It's a figure that can wipe the crooked smile right off a person’s face. Fortunately, dental insurance for braces can help cover the cost of orthodontic treatment.

The best dental insurance for braces makes orthodontic treatment more affordable, offers flexibility when it comes to treatment options, and provides a substantial lifetime maximum benefit, usually paid over the course of treatment. We have compiled a list of the best dental insurance for braces, so you can find the one that will make you smile.

Best Dental Insurance for Braces of 2021

Best Budget : Careington C500 Dental Savings Plan


Careington C500 Dental Savings Plan

Careington C500 Dental Savings Plan

Why We Chose It

We chose Careington because it's the most affordable option for orthodontic insurance, although it’s a discount program rather than an insurance benefit.

Pros
  • Members enjoy roughly 20% discount on braces from participating providers

  • Transparent pricing

  • No limitations to discount dollar amount

Cons
  • Not an insurance benefit

  • All costs are out-of-pocket, although discounted

  • Requires you to choose a network provider

As the most affordable option for dental plans for braces, Careington’s discount program packs a lot of bang for its buck. The well-established provider offers discount programs for health, wellness, and lifestyle needs. Founded by dentists back in 1979, Careington has grown from a small Dental Health Maintenance Organization into a dental network with more than 20 million members nationwide.  

Careington C500 Dental Savings Plans is the most affordable option to bring down the cost of orthodontic care. While it isn’t orthodontic insurance, the dental savings plan does save you a substantial amount on your care.

The monthly rate starts at around $9 per month, and it gets you roughly a 20% discount on orthodontic services. For an average orthodontic treatment plan of around $5,000, the plan would provide a savings of about $1,000 off your out-of-pocket costs—and there are no age limitations on the discount. Moreover, there is no deductible or waiting period for the savings plan benefits to begin.

Best for Adults : Cigna Dental 1500


Cigna Dental Insurance

Cigna Dental Insurance

Why We Chose It


The Cigna Dental 1500 covers adults which many programs do not. In addition, it has a low orthodonture deductible and about a $1,000 lifetime maximum for participants.

Pros
  • Only a $50 deductible for orthodontic services

  • 50% co-insurance after deductible

  • $1,000 lifetime maximum per subscriber for orthodontic procedures

Cons
  • Has a 12-month waiting period for orthodontic procedures

  • Premiums are subject to where subscribers live

Cigna is a global health services company in 30 countries and jurisdictions and over 180 million customer and patient relationships worldwide. With over 93,000 dentists in its national network, you can choose an in-network provider to maximize your benefits. You can buy its dental insurance plans for braces directly or through your employer, but the plan may vary based on the state where it is offered. 

We chose the Cigna Dental 1500 because it covers adults, unlike many dental insurance plans for braces out there. Additionally, the coinsurance amount is 50% for orthodontics once the 12-month waiting period is over and after the deductible is paid.

Additionally, the orthodontic deductible is lower than other providers, at about $50 for individuals and roughly $150 for families. Their website states that rates start as low as roughly $35 per month, per person, and there is about a 15% premium discount for additional family members you add to the plan. As a reference point for the varying rates, it costs $49/month to insure a female subscriber under 50 in California on this plan.

Best for Children : Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive


Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive

Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive

Why We Chose It


The Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive is the children’s best dental insurance plan for braces.

Pros
  • $1,000 lifetime benefit for orthodontic procedures

  • One of the largest PPO networks in the country

  • No waiting period

Cons
  • A higher deductible than some other plans

The extensive network of providers available through Anthem and the established brand name it carries make it a reliable and consistent dental insurance provider.  Anthem can be purchased directly or through your employer. Even better? It offers one of the largest PPO networks in the country, with hundreds of thousands of participating dentists. Input your details to get a premium quote, which varies by geography and demographics. 

The Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive is one of two great dental insurance plans for braces in the Anthem offerings. This plan is a bit higher rate-wise, quoting about a $60 rate for a woman under 50 in California. However, we like that there is no waiting period for this particular Anthem plan. After a $150 orthodontic deductible, the Incentive PPO plan pays 50% coinsurance. For kids only, this policy has a $1,000 lifetime maximum in co-insurance for orthodontic procedures after a $150 orthodontic deductible.

Best for Families : Anthem Essential Choice PPO Platinum


Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive

Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive

Why We Chose It

The Essential Choice PPO Platinum is the other dental insurance plan for braces from Anthem that made our list.

Pros
  • $1,000 lifetime maximum

  • 50% coinsurance after deductible

Cons
  • A higher deductible than some other providers

  • 12-month waiting period

Since Anthem is a company that has been around since the 1940s, it has an established reputation for consistent performance. Plus, dental practices nationwide are familiar with how its programs work, so it can be hassle-free for you to work with your care provider to get the most out of your orthodontic insurance benefit. Moreover, each subscriber under the age of 19 enjoys a $1,000 benefit—which can be helpful if bad bites run in the family.

Like the Incentive PPO plan, there is a separate orthodontic deductible of about $150, but then coinsurance is roughly 50%. There is a waiting period of 12 months for orthodontic treatment. However, if you can show you had prior coverage, Anthem might waive or reduce the waiting period.

Best for Veterans : MetLife Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program


MetLife

MetLife

Why We Chose It

The MetLife Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance program is an excellent option for veterans. With some of the most robust benefits when comparing dental insurance for braces, it can ease a significant amount of the out-of-pocket expenses associated with orthodontic treatment for qualifying subscribers.

Pros
  • The coverage limit of $3,000

  • $0 deductible in-network; only $50 out-of-network

Cons
  • Has a 12-calendar month lock-in period

  • 24-month waiting period for orthodontia coverage (for dependent children)

MetLife has a large nationwide network, as well as a presence in the U.S. territories of America Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are also over 490,000 participating dentist locations, and MetLife is a reputable company, with a stellar AM Best rating.

The MetLife Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program is by far the most generous of all the orthodontic insurance options we saw. The High Plan version had the highest lifetime maximums for kids under 19, at about $3,000. After the first year, the coverage increases to roughly $3,500. There is also no deductible when using an in-network dentist and a $50 deductible if you are out of network.

The Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) is the program that shares veterans’ benefits with beneficiaries. The CHAMPVA + 1 rate in California is about $136 per month and the CHAMPVA + Family rate is roughly $193 per month.

Best for No Waiting Periods : Spirit Dental


Spirit Dental

Spirit Dental

Why We Chose It

Spirit Dental stood out because its suite of plans don't have waiting periods, unlike many other programs the average person qualifies for.

Pros
  • $1,200 maximum lifetime benefit for orthodontic services for children

  • No waiting period

  • 10% coverage from day one on orthodontics after a $100 lifetime deductible

Cons
  • Orthodontic procedures not covered for adults

  • It takes three years to hit a 50% coinsurance amount

Based in St. Paul, Minnesota, Spirit Dental is a nationwide provider and available individually as well as through an employer. However, not all plans are available in every state. Their premium rates vary based on where you live, but they advertise a rate in roughly the $20 to $60 range for individuals. For a woman in CA under 50, the rates were higher than that, ranging from about $44 to $108. Spirit Dental is a top-rated provider on many different review sites and has a stellar rating from AM Best.

The Spirit Dental suite of dental insurance plans has no waiting periods and begins benefits on day one of coverage. Plus, its lifetime deductible of about $100 is an excellent value. With six plans of orthodontic benefits among Spirit Dental’s offerings to choose from, you are also likely to find an affordable premium that suits your needs.

Best for Low Deductibles : United Healthcare PPO Premier Plus


UnitedHealthOne Dental Insurance

 UnitedHealthOne Dental Insurance

Why We Chose It

United Healthcare’s PPO Premier Plus dental insurance plans for braces have a low deductible for the overall dentistry package at only $50. It is important to note that there is a $150 lifetime deductible for orthodontic services, but that is in line with the other providers.

Pros
  • $1,000 lifetime maximum

  • 50% coinsurance after waiting period and deductible

  • Find a local provider easily on myuhc.com

Cons
  • 12-month waiting period

  • No adult orthodontic coverage

United Healthcare is a prominent brand for insurance with nationwide coverage and dental insurance policies available all across the country. Plus, it earned a stellar rating from AM Best in 2020. United Healthcare dental insurance is available through your employer or individually, although plan availability varies by state, as will your premium rates. 

Overall, the low deductible on the United Healthcare’s PPO Premier Plus earns this policy our vote for the best for low deductibles. Even though a second deductible exists for orthodontic care, it is the same as the other policies we found. Once the deductible is met, it pays about a 50% coinsurance amount up to roughly $1,000 for patients under the age of 19. The rate is competitive, coming in at around $60/month for a female under 50 in California.

Final Verdict

Most orthodontic coverage is about the same between carriers. However, some dental insurance companies, like Careington and Anthem, offer discounts or pre-negotiated rates on the participating provider’s overall fee for service. Other policies, like Spirit, Cigna, and United Healthcare, have great features like no waiting periods or low deductibles.

Compare the Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Company Orthodontic  Lifetime Benefit  Waiting Period Orthodontic Deductible/Coinsurance
Careington C500 Dental Savings Plan:
Most Affordable
N/A None N/A
Cigna Dental 1500:
Best for Adults
$1,000 12 months $50; then 50% coinsurance
Anthem Essential Choice PPO Incentive:
Best for Children
$1,000 None $150; then 50% coinsurance
Anthem Essential Choice PPO Platinum:
Best for Families
$1,000 12 months $150; then 50% coinsurance
MetLife Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program:
Best for Veterans
$3,000 24 months* $0 in-network; $50 out of network
Spirit Dental:
Best for No Waiting Periods
$1,200 None $100 and then pays 10% yr. 1, 25% yr. 2, 50% yr. 3
United Healthcare PPO Premier Plus:
Best for Low Deductibles
$1,000 12 months $150 and then 50% up to maximum

* This waiting period is only for orthodontics.

How to Choose the Best Dental Insurance for Braces

It is important to note that there is no dental insurance that is specifically for braces. Instead, orthodontic insurance is a line-item benefit from your overall dental insurance policy, which covers preventative care and routine restorative treatments like fillings as well.

There are many considerations for dental insurance plans for braces to sort through when deciding which policy is best for you and your family. There are few essential considerations you should keep in mind, including:

  • Orthodontic Lifetime Maximum: Most policies include this information, which specifies the most orthodontic insurance benefit any covered individual can expect under their policy. This amount varies, and some policies are more generous than others.
  • Treatment Specifications: Some dental insurance plans for braces have diagnoses and treatment specifics that they cover, such as “fully-banded for X years,” “for patients 19 and under,” or “for non-cosmetic purposes.” Determine if your treatment plan will meet the specs of your coverage.
  • Orthodontic Deductible: Most policies include an additional deductible for orthodontic coverage. Sometimes, there is a smaller amount for an individual and a more considerable amount for a family.
  • Waiting Periods: Some policies require a waiting period before the insured can access the benefits of orthodontic treatment. These are often 12 months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it More Affordable to Use Dental Insurance for Braces or Pay Out of Pocket?

Even the best dental insurance plans for braces do not cover the entire cost of braces. Therefore, it is always more affordable to use orthodontic insurance benefits for the cost of orthodontic treatment. It will reduce the amount you will pay out of pocket for orthodontic treatment, whether you choose traditional braces or another form of treatment, such as clear aligners or lingual braces. 

The way it helps reduce the cost varies by policy. In some policies, there is a maximum lifetime benefit for orthodontic treatment and a co-insurance amount for policyholders. In others, dental insurance for braces gets a discount or a pre-negotiated rate from participating providers.

There are also some other ways to bring down the price of treatment. You can take out a Health Savings Account (HSA) that allows you to put away pre-tax money every year for medical and dental costs not covered by insurance. Also, that money rolls over year to year in full, so you can build up a significant amount over time to be used later. However, HSAs require you to have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).  

Another option for using pre-tax dollars for out-of-pocket expenses not covered by dental insurance for braces is a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Unlike an HSA, an FSA comes from your employer and needs to be used in full every year, or you forfeit the funds back to your employer. 

There are a couple of other options that can occur at the dental practice level, too. Some orthodontic offices will also give you a discount if you pay in full at the beginning of treatment. However, if this is not an option, most orthodontic offices will work with you to establish a monthly payment plan over the course of treatment for the uncovered expenses associated with your care. Talk to your care provider for more details.

What Does Dental Insurance for Braces Typically Cover?

Dental insurance for braces varies depending on the policy. You must review the benefits of any dental insurance plans for braces before buying them to ensure that they will apply to your circumstances. 

As a rule, the orthodontic insurance benefits for dental insurance for braces will cover part of the overall cost of orthodontic treatment for specific individuals. The orthodontic benefit often applies to patients under the age of 19 rather than for those over it. However, many of the best dental insurance for braces policies have an adult treatment option as well. 

There are limitations to coverage also, and these vary from policy to policy. For example, most dental insurance plans for braces have a lifetime benefit per individual covered. Some have a maximum amount paid out per year which is less than the lifetime benefit.  Others have a waiting period before orthodontic insurance coverage begins. Some limit coverage to orthodontic cases for medical reasons rather than cosmetic ones, regardless of age. In addition, some policies only pay for braces, not other forms of orthodontic treatment, like clear aligners. 

Many orthodontic offices can help you determine how your orthodontic benefits work and help you navigate the details of your policy to maximize its value. Talk to your care provider for more information.

How Does Dental Insurance for Braces Work?

It is essential to review the details of your policy, so you understand how and when your orthodontic insurance will help pay for your covered orthodontic treatment. This will depend on the policy you choose.

Most dental insurance plans for braces have some common elements, such as a maximum lifetime benefit amount for the covered individuals. The insurance company will also usually explain the types of orthodontic cases covered by the policy and how they will pay out their benefits, i.e., lump sum or monthly installments. They will also list any exceptions or treatment options not covered by the policy. 

Your care provider often has a general understanding of how to submit claims to the insurance company and may offer services to help you secure your benefits.

Are Adults Covered Under Dental Insurance for Braces?

Some dental insurance for braces has age limitations for coverage, and many policies do not cover adult braces at all. Some policies only cover adult braces in specific circumstances, which usually excludes cosmetic reasons. Also, like all orthodontic insurance, there will be lifetime benefit maximums for covered individuals and particular terms for benefits that you should understand before you subscribe.

The specifics of your orthodontic coverage will be outlined in your policy, which you can review before you purchase coverage. Be sure to check the coverage specifics before buying a policy or selecting one from your employer's options. 

How We Chose the Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Sorting through dental insurance for braces is a complicated process. We analyzed vital comparison points of numerous offerings to determine which policy was the best for the specified category. We considered the company’s reputation and published ratings from unbiased sources. We also compared lifetime maximums, coverage types, exclusions, waiting period specifications, and deductibles.

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