How to Get Dental Insurance Without a Job

January 31, 2024

When you lose your job or decide to leave your company, not having insurance can be a major stressor. Until you find a new position, you’ll be more or less on your own when it comes to dental insurance. What happens if you suffer a dental emergency or get a cavity? For people in between jobs, paying out–of-pocket for any health service can be impossible.

In this guide, we’ll help you understand your options for getting dental insurance without a job, so you can give yourself some protection even without job benefits.

Can I Get Dental Insurance Without a Job?

The good thing about health and dental insurance is that you can buy it on your own. Whether you’re currently employed, freelancing, or searching for work, you can buy your own policy. There are also other options to consider:

Dental Saving Plans

Dental savings plans are also called dental discount plans. Members pay an annual fee for coverage, then receive a card that you can show to participating dentists to receive lower rates. The network size varies from one provider to the next, so it’s important to make sure that the services you can receive under this savings plan are worth the investment.

COBRA Coverage

Under the terms of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1995, employers must provide continuous coverage to employees and their family members for 18 to 36 months after employment. This depends on the size of your employer and if they offer an eligible dental insurance plan.

Employers who had 20 or more employees at the time of your lay-off are most likely to be required to offer continuous coverage. You have 30 days to let your employer know about your COBRA rights, and your insurance company has 14 days to provide you with information about continuing your coverage.

The downside of COBRA is that it tends to have much higher premiums than average, so it can be expensive for people to afford, especially if they have tighter budgets in-between jobs.

Affordable Care Act Coverage

Dental insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is available during the annual Open Enrollment Period, which is typically from November 1 to January 15. For children 18 and under, dental insurance is considered an essential benefit, so health insurance providers are required to offer coverage.

For adults, dental insurance is not considered an essential benefit, so your health insurance provider is not required to make it a part of your plan. On the ACA Marketplace, you can find high-option and low-option plans.

High-option dental insurance has a higher premium but lower copays, and low-option dental insurance has a lower premium and higher copays.

Other Affordable Options

If paying out-of-pocket for your own dental care or insurance plan is too much to manage right now, there are several other less conventional options you can explore. While these may not substitute having coverage for a lifetime, they can allow you to access more affordable or even free dental treatments while you’re looking to find work.

Community Dental Programs

A community dental program offers free dental care to residents in select areas. You can research online to find if there are any programs in your neighborhood.

Free Dental Clinics

Free dental clinics are often part of community dental programs, offering free or extremely low-cost services to people in need. These clinics are usually run by dentists and dental students, allowing professionals to give back while ensuring their patients can receive access to high-quality care when they need it.

Dental Schools

Many dental schools will offer free care to patients in exchange for allowing students to gain experience performing procedures on them. These students are supervised by a dentist, and they can perform many treatments that you may need for free.

What If I’m Self-Employed?

Self-employed people can buy dental insurance online. There are many options to choose from, so you can prioritize cost, care, coverage, or a mix of both. Keep in mind that dental waiting periods do play a factor in how soon you can access care — some policies require you to wait up to a year before they will pay for major procedures like oral surgery or dental implants.

Get the Best Dental Insurance For Your Needs

Live Health has a team of insurance specialists that can connect you with the perfect dental insurance provider for your needs. Whether you are looking for a low-cost plan, family coverage, or specialized care, we can help you get covered at an affordable price.

Explore our dental insurance page to learn more, and contact us whenever you would like personalized assistance!

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