According to the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly 4 million children undergo orthodontic treatment in the United States each year. And it's not just kids; one-third of all orthodontic patients are adults. Braces can cost about $6,000 and even more for complex needs.
Dental insurance, specifically orthodontics coverage, can offset the high cost of orthodontic treatment for families or individuals. We reviewed 11 top orthodontic insurance providers to come up with this list of the best dental insurance for braces based on coverage, limits, waiting periods, cost, and more.
The 7 Best Orthodontic Insurance Companies of 2021
Best Overall: Delta Dental
Delta Dental has a wide range of plan choices with varying levels of orthodontic coverage at different price points to meet varying needs and budgets. There are options for basic orthodontic coverage at a low cost to extremely comprehensive coverage at a higher cost. It is the largest dental coverage provider in the country.
Choose between discount plans and traditional dental insurance
No referral required for orthodontic coverage
Some plans offer coverage with no waiting period
A wide range of plan costs to fit varying budgets
Not all plans include orthodontic coverage
Best pricing limited to in-network dentists and orthodontists
Each state/region operates somewhat independently, so coverage and service may vary by location
Delta Dental is one of the largest and most recognized names in dental coverage and more than twice the size of the next largest insurer. With Delta Dental, you can choose between the DeltaCare USA savings plan or the Delta Dental PPO. Depending on your location, you may be able to sign up for Delta Dental on your state’s health insurance exchange or healthcare.gov. Whichever plan you sign up for will have at least a portion of your orthodontic treatment covered.
Coverage varies based on your specific plan, but most DeltaCare USA plans include pre-orthodontic treatment, planning, x-rays, orthodontic treatment, and retainers. In either case, you can work with your orthodontist to get an estimate of the total treatment cost before getting started, including all discounts and coverage from Delta Dental.
Based on quotes for a family of four in Southern California, DeltaCare USA costs $25 per month. PPO plans were $112 per month for the Basic Plan or $213 per month for the Premium Plan. All plans required a $10 initial fee. DeltaCare USA is available with no waiting period. The most expensive PPO plan has a $50 per person deductible and $1,500 annual maximum per person. Fifty percent coinsurance for orthodontics starts after six months under that plan.
Best Price: Aetna
Offers deep discounts for orthodontics for less than $12 per month. While not all dental plans include orthodontics coverage, Aetna offers several plans that include orthodontics treatment coverage or discounts, such as the DMO program.
Traditional dental insurance plans may include coverage for orthodontic treatment
Dental discount plans available for less than $12 per month
Wide availability nationwide and affiliated with a major pharmacy chain
Below average ratings for customer satisfaction in health insurance division
Some direct-purchase dental plans don’t include orthodontics
Multiple plan types can cause confusion in choosing coverage for orthodontics
Aetna is a major health and dental insurance company that was acquired by CVS in November 2018. CVS, a nationwide drug store chain, maintains Aetna under the CVS Health subsidiary. It holds an A rating from AM Best, signifying a strong financial footing and the ability to pay for customer claims. Aetna earned a score of 695 out of 1,000 for customer satisfaction from J.D. Power, putting it slightly below average in a study of California regional health insurers.
Aetna dental plans sometimes include orthodontics coverage. Whether you get a plan from work or on your own, it’s important to review your specific orthodontic treatment coverage in addition to regular dental coverage. Current customers also can call the number on their ID cards to find out what orthodontic needs are covered by their plan.
Through Aetna, individuals can buy dental insurance plans or a dental discount card. A test quote for a family of four led to two dental plans but neither had orthodontics coverage, so read the details thoroughly before signing up. While not available in all areas, the Aetna DMO plan includes coverage for in-network orthodontists with no referral required.
A Dental Discount card is available starting at $15.95 per month that does include discounts for orthodontics up to 33% off, depending on where you live. Invisalign may not have the same discounts as traditional braces, however.
Best Place to Shop for Plans: DentalPlans.com
Low-cost dental discount plans can lower the cost of orthodontic treatment by up to 33%. Multiple options are offered for comprehensive dental plans with the ability to shop around for multiple discount plans and dental insurance policies with one easy form.
Multiple providers' quotes with one easy form
Get access to dental discount plans that cost less than $200 per year for families
Compare plans without leaving the website
Not all plans listed include orthodontics coverage
Each plan has its own participating providers, which may limit your dentist and orthodontist choices
Phone customer support has limited hours, particularly on weekends
DentalPlans.com is a marketplace where you can compare multiple insurance and discount plan providers in one place. It features savings plans from top insurers and companies including Aetna, Humana, and Delta Dental. Because it isn’t an insurance company in its own right, DentalPlans.com doesn’t have financial strength ratings.
Comparing discount plans for Southern California families resulted in eight different insurance and savings plans. Savings plans were available for $180 to $200 per year. Insurance was available from $30 per month to $108 per month. Each plan has its own coverage levels and limits. Three of the discount plans included orthodontic coverage.
The lowest-cost plans with orthodontic coverage are Aetna Vital Dental Savings ($139.95 per year), Aetna Vital Dental Savings Plus Rx ($154.95 per year), and iDental Discount Plan by United Concordia ($124.95 per year).
According to DentalPlans.com, many plans offer orthodontic savings of up to 33% of the treatment cost. Coverage can begin in as little as 72 hours with no lifetime cap on coverage.
When you shop around using DentalPlans.com, you can find the right priced plan that often has more coverage than when shopping directly. However, you will have to do a second level of research to make sure you choose a plan with orthodontic coverage. Even if you already have dental insurance, you may want to add an additional discount plan for savings on braces, retainers, and other orthodontic needs.
Best for a Low Deductible: Cigna
The $50 deductible for orthodontics coverage after a 12-month waiting period is among the lowest reviewed. The high-level dental insurance plan includes a 50% discount on negotiated treatment costs.
Orthodontics coverage begins after a $50 lifetime deductible
No referral needed
Big discounts for in-network orthodontists
Lower-cost policies don’t include orthodontics coverage
Maximum $1,000 lifetime coverage for orthodontics
The only plan with orthodontics coverage has a higher monthly cost
Cigna is a major health and dental insurer that operates in most states and holds an A rating from AM Best. Its health plans earn an average rating for customer satisfaction from J.D. Power.
Cigna offers three different dental plans for a Southern California family when seeking a quote. Only the highest-level, Cigna Dental 1500, includes orthodontist coverage. The premium for a family of four came out to $151 per month. The other two plans don’t include orthodontic treatment coverage.
According to Cigna, the average user who chooses an in-network provider will spend about $3,155 for orthodontic treatment, compared to $6,435 for someone without coverage. Cigna Dental 1500 has a $50 individual deductible and a $150 family deductible per calendar year for dental treatment.
Orthodontic treatment has a $50 lifetime deductible and a $1,000 lifetime maximum benefit for both in- and out-of-network providers. This coverage has a 12-month waiting period. In-network, you pay 50% of the contracted fee. Even after using up the maximum lifetime benefit, you’ll still save thanks to the lower price of contracted fees compared to a treatment’s list price.
Best for Adults: Aflac
Dental coverage is a health insurance supplement and orthodontics is covered by a rider, which can keep costs low compared to a traditional dental insurance policy.
Dental insurance supplemental coverage can keep costs low compared to traditional dental insurance
An optional orthodontic insurance rider gives you important orthodontic insurance coverage if you need it
Different orthodontic rider coverage levels can help you find the best balance between cost and coverage
No online insurance quotes or public pricing
Dental insurance supplements may not include orthodontic treatment without an additional rider
24-month waiting period for orthodontic treatment coverage
American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, or Aflac, offers dental insurance supplements with an optional rider for orthodontics. Supplemental coverage means it is designed to work alongside another insurance policy, in this case health insurance. Aflac and its affiliates all hold an A+ rating from AM Best. Aflac is accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating.
Policies and pricing are not available completely online. It takes an online form or a call to Aflac to get a quote. At the time of comparing quotes, they were only available by phone, which is not ideal for many shoppers.
Because Aflac offers dental insurance as a supplement and orthodontic coverage as a rider, you can build a somewhat a la carte insurance policy to meet your orthodontic needs. Like with other insurers, monthly costs and coverage vary by the level of coverage you choose.
Policies we reviewed require a 24-month waiting period for initial orthodontic treatment. Aflac will pay up to $500 for initial treatment and up to $50 for recurring visits related to specific procedures outlined in the rider. The lifetime maximum is $1,400 per person and there is a $2,400 to $2,600 annual payout limit per policy.
Best for No Waiting Period for Orthodontic Discounts: Humana
Discounts for orthodontics are available with most dental plans and coverage starts immediately—there are no waiting periods.
Multiple plans with various price points, with orthodontic discounts included
Extensive coverage available for most traditional dental treatments
Not all plans include orthodontic discounts
No direct insurance coverage for orthodontics
Some plans have waiting periods for dental services
Humana is an insurer based in Louisville, Kentucky. It earns an A- financial strength rating from AM Best. Dental insurance plans from Humana don’t generally cover orthodontic treatment but do come with discounts for orthodontics.
In the plans we reviewed, which included the Dental Preventive Plus PPO, Dental Loyalty Plus PPO, and Complete Dental PPO, orthodontic coverage was limited to a discount plan. Payments for orthodontic coverage are specifically excluded. This means you won’t receive insurance payments toward braces or similar treatment regardless of your deductible or annual maximum—all coverage is in the form of a discount.
In a quote for a family of four, there were four possible dental plans available, two of which included orthodontics discounts. PPO Plans that included orthodontic discounts were available for $187.96 or $194.99 per month, depending on the level of coverage. Because orthodontics coverage under these plans comes as a discount, not a covered service like dental work, deductibles and limits don’t apply for orthodontic treatment. Orthodontic discounts are available right away. All plans have a $35 enrollment fee.
Best for Military Families: USAA Dental Insurance
USAA has a strong reputation for customer service when it comes to insurance for military families, and it boasts a $2,000 lifetime maximum limit for orthodontic treatment.
Strong reputation for customer service for the military
Quality dental insurance policies issued in partnership with Cigna
Up to $2,000 lifetime maximum for orthodontia
Policy not issued or administered directly by USAA
$200 deductible for orthodontic treatment
Not available to families without military status
USAA is a top-rated bank and insurance company for active-duty military, veterans, and their families. Like many other insurance products offered by USAA, it scores top marks for customer service with its dental plans. USAA issues dental insurance in partnership with Cigna.
The Cigna Security 1500 plan is very similar to the Cigna Dental 1500 plan you can buy directly from Cigna, with some key differences. The orthodontic deductible is $150 higher at $200, but you get double the coverage with a $2,000 lifetime limit.
According to Cigna, the average total cost for plan members is $2,187 for braces in-network versus $6,727 without insurance. You pay 50% of the contracted fee after reaching your deductible and waiting period. Braces treatment requires a 12-month waiting period. Running quotes for a California family led to pricing of $46 for the first insured per month plus $39 per month for each additional person. That isn’t the cheapest policy around, but it’s competitive for extensive dental coverage.
While USAA Dental Insurance requires working with a third-party insurance provider, the policies offer great coverage for orthodontics from a reputable and trusted partner.
What Is Dental Insurance for Braces?
Dental insurance for braces, also called orthodontic insurance, is a type of insurance specific to orthodontic treatment. That includes braces, retainers, and other procedures designed to fix the alignment of your teeth and jaw.
Orthodontic insurance isn’t usually a standalone product. Instead, orthodontics may be included in dental insurance or covered by a dental discount plan. Many dental insurance policies don’t include any coverage for orthodontia, so you may need an additional policy, discount plan, or rider to get help paying for orthodontic treatment.
Costs can vary depending on the type of braces or other treatments. For example, traditional metal braces may be less expensive than the modern, removable Invisalign. Carefully read what’s covered and what may cost extra when choosing orthodontic insurance if you have a specific treatment in mind.
What Does Dental Insurance for Braces Typically Include?
Orthodontic insurance generally includes discounts and some level of coverage for treatment including exams, imaging, braces, retainers, etc. Just because you have orthodontic insurance, however, doesn’t mean your braces will be free.
When orthodontics is included in a dental insurance policy, you’ll likely run into waiting periods before benefits begin. Once they do, you probably will have to meet a minimum deductible before insurance starts to pay. Depending on your plan, you still could owe 50% or more of the cost for treatment.
Discount plans can help you save money on braces and other treatments. While they may not pay for a portion of the treatment, as you get with regular insurance, they can lower the cost and generally charge less per month than traditional dental insurance.
What Does Dental Insurance for Braces Typically Exclude?
When orthodontics is included in dental plans, strict limits typically apply. Orthodontic insurance generally has lifetime limits that fall far short of the total cost of coverage. Even with a quality dental policy in place that includes coverage for orthodontics, you may still have to pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for braces and similar treatments.
Some policies have individual limits to keep coverage to a certain level. If you have a policy lifetime limit, you could run out of coverage when treating your first child before a second one even starts braces.
This is why discount plans can be a good way to save on braces on top of what you get from your dental insurance. Some savvy shoppers choose a discount plan in addition to their regular dental insurance. This can offer discounts on braces at a low annual cost without changing dental plans.
What Are the Expected Costs of Dental Insurance for Braces?
Orthodontic insurance can vary widely in cost, depending on where you get it and what type of coverage you choose.
Full dental coverage often costs around $20 to $40 per month for individuals or up to $200 per month for a family when purchased on your own. It's often cheaper when you’re part of an employer’s group plan.
Discount plans cost around $10 to $20 per month but don’t include any insurance coverage. They just save you money on the pricing your dentist or orthodontist offers.
Is Paying for Dental Insurance for Braces Worth It?
According to Oral-B, the cost of braces can vary based on the type of treatment and length of treatment required:
- Metal braces (traditional braces): $3,000 to $7,000
- Ceramic braces: $4,000 to $8,000
- Lingual braces: $8,000 to $10,000
- Invisalign: $4,000 to $7,400
Even without orthodontic coverage, which can be expensive on its own, there are other ways to save on orthodontic costs. These include using a health savings account or flexible spending account to save on taxes or going to a local dental school to get treated by an orthodontist-in-training.
It’s ultimately up to you to decide if insurance is worth it. You can meet with a local orthodontist to get an estimate of costs without insurance to decide if you can afford treatment out-of-pocket or need to look for other ways to help pay.
How We Chose the Best Dental Insurance for Braces
We considered 11 insurers when compiling our list of the best. To earn a spot, insurers must offer some level of orthodontic coverage with competitive pricing and coverage levels.
Major factors included waiting periods before coverage begins, deductibles for orthodontia treatment, and both annual and lifetime coverage limits. Some non-traditional options were included, including discount plans, orthodontic riders, and a comparison website that allows you to shop for multiple dental and orthodontic insurance companies at once.
Most important was easy access to orthodontic coverage. The best orthodontic insurance doesn’t require you to jump through hoops to get started with braces or other treatments. With quality orthodontic insurance, it’s easy to get help paying for braces and other orthodontic needs.
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