Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Delta Dental offers orthodontic coverage with a variety of plan options

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Dental insurance plans that include orthodontics coverage are an important investment for families and individuals looking to get braces. Around 3.9 million children undergo orthodontic treatment in the United States each year, and braces can cost thousands of dollars. Orthodontics coverage can help to offset the high cost of braces.

The best dental plans for braces offer comprehensive coverage, low costs, and high coverage limits. Depending on when braces are needed, a dental plan with minimal waiting periods is a good idea. You should also look for a dental plan with a large network of providers.

Best Dental Insurance for Braces of 2021

Best Overall : Delta Dental


Delta Dental

Delta Dental

  • No. Policy Types: 5
  • Coverage Limit: Varies
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

With a wide range of plans to choose from and no referral requirement, Delta Dental is our top overall pick for dental insurance for braces.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Multiple plan options

  • No referral required

  • Some plans with no waiting period

Cons
  • Different states, different options

  • Best prices limited to in-network

  • Comprehensive coverage more expensive

Overview

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 following:

  • DeltaCare USA plan
  • Delta Dental PPO plan
  • Delta Dental PPO Plus Premier plan
  • Delta Dental Premier plan
  • Delta Dental Patient Direct plan

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 $28.83 per month. PPO plans were $106.66 per month for the Basic Plan or $213.34 per month for the Premium Plan. All plans require a $10 initial fee, and DeltaCare USA is available with no waiting period.

The most expensive PPO plan has a $50 per person deductible and a $1,500 annual maximum per person. A 50% coinsurance for orthodontics starts after six months under that plan.

Best Price : Aetna


Aetna

Aetna

  • No. Policy Types: 2
  • Coverage Limit: Varies
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

Aetna offers extremely affordable dental insurance policies starting at under $22 per month.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Low prices

  • Available in 50 states

  • Affiliated with CVS

Cons
  • Not all plans come with orthodontics coverage

  • Plan options can be confusing

  • Below average customer satisfaction

Overview

Aetna is a major health and dental insurance company that CVS acquired 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 can also call the number on their ID cards to find out what orthodontic needs their plans cover.

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 $7.99 per month, with 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


DentalPlans.com

DentalPlans.com

  • No. Policy Types: 30
  • Coverage Limit: Varies
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

If you’re looking to compare plans to find the best coverage for you and your family, DentalPlans.com has plenty of options to choose from.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Compare quotes from multiple providers

  • Simple online platform

Cons
  • Limited customer support

  • Not all plans with coverage for orthodontics

Overview

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 $125 to $155 per year. Insurance was available from $29 per month to $65 per month. Each plan has its own coverage levels and limits. Three of the discount plans included orthodontic coverage.

The lowest-cost savings plans with orthodontic coverage are Aetna Vital Dental Savings ($139.95 per year for individuals), 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


Cigna

Cigna

  • No. Policy Types: 3
  • Coverage Limit: $1,000 lifetime maximum
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

Cigna features plans with low deductibles, making it easier to afford pricey procedures like braces.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Orthodontics coverage after a $50 lifetime deductible

  • No referral needed

  • Big discounts for in-network orthodontists

Cons
  • Lower-cost policies without orthodontics coverage

  • Maximum $1,000 lifetime coverage for orthodontics

  • The only plan with orthodontics coverage has higher monthly cost

Overview

Cigna is a major health and dental insurer operating in all 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*


Aflac

Aflac

  • No. Policy Types: 3
  • Coverage Limit: $1,400 lifetime limit per person
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

For adults looking to straighten their smile, Aflac offers supplemental dental insurance coverage with an optional orthodontic rider.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Low cost

  • Multiple policy and rider options

  • Customize a plan to meet your needs

Cons
  • No public pricing

  • No online application

  • 24-month waiting period

Overview

American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus, or Aflac, offers dental insurance supplements with an optional rider for orthodontics. Supplemental coverage is designed to work alongside another insurance policy. In this case, health insurance. Aflac holds an A+ rating from AM Best. The Better Business Bureau accredits Aflac 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. When 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 help 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


Humana

Humana

  • No. Policy Types: 6
  • Coverage Limit ($): Varies
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

With no waiting period for orthodontics discounts, Humana is a great choice for individuals and families looking to purchase braces right away.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Multiple plans with various price points, with orthodontic discounts included

  • Extensive coverage available for most traditional dental treatments

Cons
  • Orthodontic discounts not included in all plans

  • No direct insurance coverage for orthodontics

  • Waiting periods for dental services with some plans

Overview

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 six plans we reviewed, 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 insurance plans available. Two of the plans included orthodontics discounts: Loyalty Plus PPO and Complete Dental PPO. These were available for $131.96 and $150.99 per month, respectively.

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. The Loyalty Plus PPO plan has a $35 enrollment fee.

Best for Military Families : USAA Dental Insurance


USAA

USAA

  • No. Policy Types: 3
  • Coverage Limit: $2,000 lifetime maximum limit
  • No. States Available: 50
Why We Chose It

With low costs and a reputation for customer satisfaction, USAA is our top choice for a dental insurance plan for braces for military families.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Strong reputation for customer service for the military

  • Quality dental insurance policies issued in partnership with Cigna and IHC

  • Up to $2,000 lifetime maximum for orthodontia

Cons
  • Policy not issued or administered directly by USAA

  • $200 deductible for orthodontic treatment

  • Not available to families without military status

Overview

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 and IHC.

According to Cigna, the average 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.

A quote for a California family of four led to pricing of $61.56 a month and higher. 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.

Final Verdict

There are lots of options when it comes to dental insurance plans for braces. Depending on your age, budget, and when you need braces, you can choose between policies from several different established providers. Many insurance plans also come with extra discounts and dental benefits. Overall, our top choice for a dental insurance plan for braces is Delta Dental.

Delta Dental offers a variety of different plan options for orthodontics coverage. Depending on your budget and how much coverage you need, you can choose between multiple plans that cover braces. Most plans cover pre-orthodontic treatment, planning, x-rays, orthodontic treatment, and retainers.

Compare the Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Company Plans (#)  Coverage Limit  Waiting Period  Deductible 
Delta Dental
Best Overall
5 Varies Varies $50
Aetna
Best Price 
Varies  Varies  $50 
DentalPlans.com
Best Place to Shop for Plans
30  Varies  Varies  Varies
Cigna
Best for a Low Deductible 
$1,000 12 months $50
Aflac
Best for Adults 
$1,400 24 months Varies
Humana
Best for No Waiting Period 
Varies  None  $50-150
USAA Dental Insurance
Best for Military Families 
$2,000 12 months $200

Guide to Choosing the Best Dental Insurance for Braces

Should You Get Dental Insurance for Braces? 

Depending on your situation, it may or may not make sense to get dental insurance for braces. While braces are often included in dental insurance plans for children, they may not be covered for adults. In many cases, dental insurance that covers orthodontic treatment can help you reduce braces' overall cost.

Comparing Dental Insurance Plans for Braces

There are a few factors you should consider when comparing dental insurance plans for braces. These include:

  • Orthodontics coverage: You should ensure that your dental plan covers braces, especially if you’re an adult.
  • Cost: Look for dental insurance plans with low monthly premiums and deductibles.
  • Waiting periods: Depending on when you need braces, you should consider plans with low or no waiting periods.
  • Availability: Make sure to choose an insurance carrier that’s available in your state and has an extensive provider network.

Using Dental Insurance for Braces 

If you plan to purchase dental insurance to cover some of the cost of braces, it’s a good idea to do so well in advance of when you plan to get them because many plans have waiting periods of 12 to 24 months. You should also review your plan’s coverage and speak with your orthodontist to make sure that orthodontics is covered under your plan.

While children’s dental plans often include orthodontics coverage, most adult dental plans don’t. You may have to purchase additional coverage or add a rider to qualify for orthodontics coverage.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Dental Insurance for Braces?

Dental insurance for braces, also called orthodontic insurance, is 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 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.

Methodology

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 annual and lifetime coverage limits. Some non-traditional options included 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.

Article Sources

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