The Pros and Cons of Veteran Dental Insurance

May 7th 2016

The Veterans Affairs dental insurance program provides former servicemen and women with a low-cost option for dental care. Coverage may be limited for some specialized services, such as dentures or braces, but the plans are ideal for preventive care and routine dental maintenance.

Multiple Plans for Better Coverage

Veterans have a choice of coverage options through either provider. MetLife offers a standard plan and a high option, while Delta Dental participants may choose between standard, enhanced and comprehensive coverage options. Standard plans have lower monthly premiums but cover fewer services. High, enhanced and comprehensive plans feature lower co-payments, higher annual maximum payouts and coverage of additional services, depending on the provider.

Comprehensive Selection of Services

Routine and preventive dental care, such as x-rays, cleanings and oral exams, are covered entirely under both standard VA dental insurance plans as long as the work is performed by a dentist within the insurer's network of providers. Members may visit out-of-network doctors, but are responsible for 20 to 40 percent of the fee, depending on the insurance provider. Fillings, root canals, restorative work and other dental services are also covered, either with higher co-payments or a higher monthly premium, depending on the carrier.

Waiting Periods and Enrollment Options

New members must initially enroll in an annual VA dental insurance plan, but may choose to carry the policy on a month-to-month basis after the first year. Delta Dental plans require 12 months of consecutive enrollment before some services are covered, including root canals, implants and major restorative work. MetLife requires a 24-month wait for orthodontic coverage.

What About Dependents?

In most cases, dependents are not eligible to participate in the Veterans Affairs dental insurance program. This does not apply to CHAMPVA dependents under the age of 19 (24 in the case of a full-time student). Both MetLife and Delta Dental may offer similar discounted dental plans to non-eligible dependents when they enroll with an eligible veteran.

Coverage for Orthodontic Treatment

Adult orthodontic services are not covered under any of the veteran dental plans. Partial coverage is available for eligible dependents under the age of 19, but only through MetLife's high option. A participant must wait 24 months after his initial enrollment before any services are covered. The plan pays out a lifetime maximum of $3,000 for orthodontic care.

Conclusion

As of January 2014, all veterans who are enrolled with Veterans Affairs have the opportunity to purchase dental insurance plans through MetLife or Delta Dental at a discounted rate. Participation in the Veterans Affairs dental insurance program does not affect a member's eligibility for free dental treatment through the department, and while it certainly has some minor drawback, the plan offers a low-cost alternative to individuals who do not meet the specified criteria for free services.

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