Health and Dental Insurance: Find Affordable Plans

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Individuals and families shopping for health and dental insurance plans have two main options — buying two separate plans or getting a health and dental bundled plan. You can save money by choosing the right level of coverage for your needs and by using HealthCare.gov to see if you qualify for discounts.

Health and dental insurance plans

There are two ways to get health and dental insurance. A bundled plan will combine coverage for medical and dental care under one plan. Alternatively, you can get separate plans for medical insurance and dental insurance.

Health and dental bundle

Separate plans

Pros

  • Simpler and more convenient
  • Only one monthly bill
  • Can sometimes be a good deal with low monthly rates

Cons

  • Plan options are not as customizable as if you get coverage individually
  • May only cover basic dental care
  • Dental benefits often have a separate deductible and coverage limit
  • Limited availability in some locations

Health and dental bundle

Pros

  • Simpler and more convenient
  • Only one monthly bill
  • Can sometimes be a good deal with low monthly rates

Cons

  • Plan options are not as customizable as if you get coverage individually
  • May only cover basic dental care
  • Dental benefits often have a separate deductible and coverage limit
  • Limited availability in some locations

Separate plans

Pros

  • Gives you the flexibility to customize your coverage
  • Variety of plan options, including those that cover major dental procedures
  • Can be cost-effective to pay for two plans if the coverage better matches your needs

Cons

  • Separate monthly bills
  • May be less convenient to have two plans
  • You can only buy dental insurance on HealthCare.gov if you're also buying health insurance

Children's dental coverage is often included in a health insurance plan because it's one of the 10 essential health benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, sometimes insurers will provide separate pediatric dental plans rather than including the benefits in a health insurance plan. This makes it important to check a plan's benefits to know if you need a separate dental plan for family members.

The average cost of dental insurance is $25 per month, and cheap plans can cost less than $15 per month.

Discounts for dental insurance plans are not available. However, if you have a low to moderate income, you may qualify for health insurance subsidies, which reduce the cost of health insurance. There are some rules, though.

  • To get health insurance discounts, you have to sign up for a plan using HealthCare.gov or your state marketplace.
  • You're only able to shop on these marketplaces during open enrollment (usually Nov. 1 to Jan. 15) or if you have a qualifying circumstance, such as losing other health insurance coverage.

You can only buy a dental insurance plan on HealthCare.gov if you're also buying a health insurance plan. If you only need a dental policy, you can shop with an insurance agency or directly through an insurance company.

Vision insurance is sometimes bundled with a health and dental insurance plan. However, stand-alone vision insurance plans are not sold on HealthCare.gov or your state marketplace. If you need a separate vision plan, you'll need to shop directly with an insurance company or insurance agency.

How to compare private health and dental insurance

When choosing your coverage, you should consider several key factors to find the best plan for your budget, health needs and preferences.

How much coverage do you need?

The general rule of thumb for both health and dental insurance is if you expect to need major medical care or treatment, it's worth it to buy a more expensive plan because the better benefits will help you save money overall.

Because of regulations specific to health insurance, all qualified health plans will cover essential medical services, and the level of coverage will determine how much you pay for medical care. For example, an X-ray can cost $80 with a Bronze plan or $40 with a Gold plan.

In contrast, dental insurance plans are not required to cover the same services. That means some plans may only cover basic services like cleanings and fillings, and more robust plans may also cover major dental services.

Which providers are in the plan's network?

A provider network can include a list of dentists, doctors, medical providers and hospitals. With a health or dental insurance plan, you'll usually pay less for services if you use an in-network provider. That means when you're shopping for insurance, it's important to check that the plan has professionals you prefer in its network.

How much flexibility do you want?

If you want more choices about where you can go for care or you travel often and need geographic flexibility, it may be worth it to pay for a PPO plan. Others who are willing to give up some flexibility for a lower-cost plan can choose an HMO plan, which is called a DHMO for dental insurance.

Best dental insurance plans

Humana is the best overall dental insurance company based on a comparison of stand-alone dental plans sold on HealthCare.gov and how satisfied dental customers are.

Company
Customer satisfaction
Monthly cost
Humana logo
Humana
$16
DentaQuest logo
DentaQuest
$16
UnitedHealthcare logo
UnitedHealthcare
Unknown
Cigna logo
Cigna
$22
Aetna logo
Aetna
Unknown
Show All Rows

Average cost for a 40-year-old individual with a stand-alone dental insurance plan on HealthCare.gov. Customer satisfaction rates are based on J.D. Power survey data.

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Best bundled health and dental insurance plan: UnitedHealthcare

  • One of the best overall health insurance companies
  • Offers multiple types of insurance, making it easy to combine health and dental coverage with vision insurance, accident insurance or indemnity insurance
  • Also offers a bundle of dental and short-term health insurance for situations where you have a gap of a few months between plans, such as if you're between jobs

Read our full review.

Best overall dental insurance: Humana

  • Highest customer satisfaction
  • Good prices averaging $16 per month
  • Low average deductible of $50
  • Most plans have no waiting period before covering major dental services

Read our full review.

Cheapest dental insurance: Guardian

  • Plans start at just $8 per month
  • Cheap plans are widely available
  • Very low customer satisfaction rates, so consider whether it's worth it to pay more for a plan from a better company

Frequently asked questions

Is dental care covered by health insurance?

Dental care is sometimes covered by health insurance if you have a bundled plan that provides benefits for both medical and dental care. However, it's more common to have dental insurance as a separate plan from health insurance.

What’s the best health and dental insurance bundle?

The best health and dental insurance bundle is from UnitedHealthcare, which has very high customer satisfaction and offers a variety of plan types. For those who want a stand-alone dental plan, we recommend Humana, which has cheap rates averaging $16 per month, is widely available and has the best customer satisfaction.

Why are dental and health insurance separate?

Dental insurance is regulated differently than health insurance, so the structure of the benefits is different. Dental insurance focuses more on preventive care, and health insurance covers comprehensive medical care. There's also the difference of who provides the service, and dentists and doctors are considered separate professional categories.

How much does it cost to add dental coverage?

A basic dental insurance plan typically costs between $15 and $25 per month for each individual. However, a plan with better coverage for major dental care usually costs between $30 and $50 per month.

What's the best health and dental insurance if you're self-employed?

If you are self-employed, you'll get the best health and dental insurance by shopping on HealthCare.gov. Health insurance rates are discounted according to your income, so a cheap health insurance plan can cost about $50 per month if you earn $35,000 per year. Then you can add on a dental insurance plan from Humana, our pick for the best dental provider, for about $16 per month.


Sources and methodology

The cost of dental insurance is based on the HealthCare.gov public use file for 2022 stand-alone dental plans.

Customer satisfaction ratings are based on the 2022 dental plan satisfaction survey from J.D. Power. Star ratings are calculated so that the industry average is three stars and the highest score is five stars.

Insurer complaint data was sourced from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) complaint index based on a weighted average of each subsidiary according to the annual premium amount.

Editorial note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.