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Merritt Personal Lines Manual: Chapter 8 Dental, Vision and Prescription Coverage

In addition to medical and hospitalization coverage, some people opt to buy coverage for things such as dental expenses, vision expenses and even prescription expenses.

Dental insurance -- which you can get as additional coverage under most group health plans, through a prepayment plan or through a dental service corporation -- will reimburse you for at least part of the money you spend on dental service and supplies.

Dental coverage usually includes payment for preventive care, such as regular checkups, x-rays and cleanings. It also pays for the things most people hate about dental work: fillings, tooth removal, inlays, bridgework oral surgery and -- ugh -- root canals.

This insurance also will help you in a more limited way -- 50 percent is a common figure -- with expenses for dentures and orthodonture.

Normally, you'll have to shell out a pretty hefty co-payment, although that co-payment may be smaller for preventive services. (Typically, insurance will not help pay for cosmetic work on your teeth.)

Vision plans typically are discount services. For a small fee -- about $15 to $20 a year -- you get a membership card that entitles you to discounts on eye exams, glasses and contacts. These discounts (usually in the 50 percent range for eyewear) often are good at a wide variety of stores, including most of the major chains. Some of the plans also offer contact lenses at a discount by mail. Some even provide a discount on non-prescription sunglasses.

If you purchase glasses or contact lenses on a regular basis (for example, if you wear disposable lenses), these plans can be cost-effective.

Prescription plans are much like vision plans. They also get you a discount on prescriptions if you visit a participating pharmacy. Again, they typically include most major chains. Discounts range from 5 percent to 50 percent on most drugs. Discounts may be higher if you purchase your prescription drugs through a mail-order program.

Most people who have health insurance do not need a prescription plan -- unless they have an extremely high deductible on a major medical plan and purchase prescription drugs on a regular basis.

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