In Nova Scotia, most dental work is not covered by our provincial health care program (MSI). The only exceptions are medically necessary procedures such as the surgical removal of impacted teeth and routine dental work for children aged 14 and under.
This means that I see a lot of people who are suddenly faced with a large dental bill that they don’t have any coverage for—or worse, people who avoid going to the dentist at all because they can’t afford it.
Group health plans offer some dental coverage and, for some people, it’s enough. Others find themselves hitting the coverage cap before the year is out and having to dig deep to cover the rest of the costs. If you have a group insurance plan or if you rely solely on MSI, here are some things to consider about dental coverage in Nova Scotia.
Dental Work is Important
Lots of people assume they can just get away with little or no coverage by minimizing their trips to the dentist (or not going at all). Even if you have a great oral hygiene routine, seeing a dentist regularly is extremely important to your overall health.
In addition to cleaning your teeth and checking for tooth decay, your dentist will examine your mouth for signs of any other medical issues such as vitamin deficiency, oral cancer, or diabetes. Early detection of these problems is key to preventing more serious illnesses down the road.
If you avoid the dentist for too long, inevitably, you’ll end up in the chair with mouth pain. This could be something as simple as a cavity in need of filling, or something more serious that could have been prevented with an earlier visit. And then, of course, you’ll need to pay to have it fixed.
Group Plans and Dental Coverage
Most employer-provided group plans include dental coverage. The amount of coverage you get varies. Most commonly, you’ll get a decent percentage of your dental costs covered, but there is a spending cap—once your insurance company has paid out as much as your cap, they won’t cover any more for the rest of the year.
This is fine if you just need routine exams and cleanings but, if multiple cavities are found or if you need another procedure such as a root canal, you could find yourself exceeding your group plan’s limit long before the year is up.
Coordination of Benefits
If you or your spouse are covered under a group health insurance plan like I mentioned above, the other spouse could extend dental benefits for both of you with a Medavie Blue Cross plan. For example, if your group benefits plan only covers 70% of your dental costs, you could submit a receipt for the remaining 30% to your spouse’s Medavie Blue Cross plan to receive up to 100% reimbursement for your costs.
This applies to other medical costs, too. A solution like this is what I usually recommend in a situation where one spouse has employer benefits and the other does not, and is simply covered by the employed spouse’s work health plan. Getting the spouse without benefits onto a Blue Cross plan can save you money in the long run by allowing the two plans to work together to cover the highest percentage of dental (and other) costs possible.
Choosing a Dental Benefits Plan from Medavie Blue Cross
Medavie Blue Cross offers three levels of dental coverage through its Elements program:
Entry dental coverage is the lowest and most inexpensive amount of coverage, for someone who perhaps has other dental coverage available to them or isn’t concerned at this time about having a great deal of coverage. It provides 60% coverage at up to $500 per year.
Essential dental coverage provides 70% coverage on routine dental services such as exams, fillings, X-rays, extractions, and even root canals. There is no cap on minor procedures like fillings and root canals, so you don’t have to worry about needing too much dental work in one year.
Enhanced dental coverage is Medavie Blue Cross’ most comprehensive dental plan. It provides 80% coverage for:
- Exams & cleanings
- Root canals
Plus, the Enhanced plan covers 60% of costs for:
- Periodontal services (up to $1,200 / year)
- Major dental procedures (up to $500 / year)
- Orthodontics for children under the age of 18 ($1,500 / LT)
Don’t Wait to Get Dental Coverage
If you’re thinking this kind of coverage sounds right for you, don’t make the mistake of waiting until you need it! Like all kinds of health insurance, it’s much better to get it in place before it’s required. Your Medavie Blue Cross dental coverage has a 6 month waiting period if you have not cancelled a dental plan in the last 90 days.
However, if you can demonstrate that you have had dental insurance within a 90 day period before your Medavie Blue Cross plan goes into effect, in most cases this waiting period can be waived. Feel free to contact me directly for more information about your unique circumstances.
Dental Coverage is an Important Part of Your Healthy Lifestyle
With regular dental exams easily costing more than $100 per person, the last thing I want is for anyone to avoid going to the dentist because they can’t afford it. Don’t wait until a sore tooth stops you from enjoying your favourite foods or starts to keep you up at night.
Dental coverage add-ons to the Medavie Blue Cross Elements plan are surprisingly affordable and will allow you to maintain your best oral health without breaking the bank.
Contact me today to discuss your dental coverage needs—whether you need full coverage or coordination of benefits—and we’ll find the plan that fits in your budget and protects your teeth for years to come.