The term "managed dental care" typically refers to various types of dental insurance that pay negotiated rates to pre-approved providers of dental care. The goal of managed dental care is to ensure that dental consumers receive the care that they need to keep their teeth and gums healthy while reducing costs. The types of managed dental care insurance programs vary by jurisdiction, as some countries may offer dental care as part of a national health care system, and other countries may have laws governing insurance company policies. In the United States, these dental care plans typically provide consumers with full or high coverage for preventative dentistry, such as regular examinations and x-rays, along with varying benefits for more complex dental procedures.
Many health experts note that good dental care plays a significant role in a person's overall health. While many individuals simply choose to pay for dental care out of pocket, some prefer to enroll in a managed dental care program, which can help reduce costs, particularly in situations in which a person may need emergency dental treatment or extensive dental work. Much like various types of managed care medical insurance, these policies offer a variety of benefits that may be tied, to some extent, to the cost of premiums.
To reduce costs, a provider of managed dental care policies will work with individual dentists and dental practices to negotiate reasonable payments for a variety of services. Individuals who participate in a managed dental care plan are typically required to use those dentists who participate in the plan. In some cases, however, a policyholder may have the option of working with dental professionals who are not participants in the managed dental care plan, but he will be required to pay a greater percentage of the costs incurred. Those who do participate in these plans should check their policies carefully, as some can be very restrictive and may deny reimbursement for care received from dentists who are not a part of the plan.
In some cases, a managed dental care policy will specifically encourage the practice of preventive dentistry by covering the entire cost of routine dental examinations for both adults and children. In situations where a policyholder needs more treatment, such as the filling of cavities or extractions, he may be required to pay for at least a portion of his care. These policies may also cover at least part of the cost of orthodontic care, but may exclude more advanced and expensive types of orthodontia. In addition to restrictions on the types of services performed and the selection of care providers, a managed dental care plan may also set restrictions on the annual expenses that each policyholder can incur.