Demystifying Dental Insurance Verification: A Complete Glossary of Terms

October 10, 2023
Demystifying Dental Insurance Verification: A Complete Glossary of Terms

In the intricate world of dental insurance, navigating the numerous terms and jargon associated with insurance verification can be a daunting task.

Whether you’re a dental professional looking to enhance your understanding or a patient seeking clarity, this comprehensive glossary aims to demystify dental insurance verification by providing clear explanations of key terms and concepts.

Let’s dive into the terminology that plays a vital role in ensuring a smooth insurance verification process with Verifixed.

1. Deductible

Definition: The deductible is the initial amount of money that a patient must pay out of their own pocket for dental services before their insurance plan begins to cover the costs. It represents a patient’s financial responsibility at the beginning of their coverage period.

Importance: Understanding the deductible is crucial because it helps patients gauge their initial financial responsibility for dental treatment. Once the deductible is met, insurance coverage typically starts to apply, reducing the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses.

2. Co-pay

Definition: A co-pay is a fixed amount that a patient is required to pay for specific dental services, and it is typically due at the time of treatment. Co-pays can vary depending on the type of service and the patient’s insurance plan.

Importance: Co-pays are essential for patients to know as they directly impact the immediate cost of dental care. Patients should be aware of the co-pays associated with different services to budget for their dental expenses accurately. Learn more about co-pay here.

3. Co-insurance

Definition: Co-insurance represents the percentage of dental expenses that a patient is responsible for covering after they have met their deductible. It is the portion of costs that the patient shares with their insurance provider once the deductible has been satisfied.

Importance: Co-insurance is significant because it determines the portion of costs that patients will bear for ongoing dental treatments. For example, if the insurance plan covers 80% of the costs after the deductible, the patient’s co-insurance would be the remaining 20%

4. Policyholder

Definition: The policyholder is the individual who owns and is responsible for an insurance policy. In the context of dental insurance, the policyholder is often the person who has purchased and manages the insurance coverage.

Importance: Understanding who the policyholder is helps in verifying patient eligibility and coverage. It ensures that the right person is being considered for insurance-related matters and that their benefits are correctly applied.

5. Beneficiary

Definition: A beneficiary is an individual who is covered by an insurance policy, and in the context of dental insurance, it typically refers to the person seeking dental care and utilizing the insurance benefits.

Importance: Verifying the beneficiary ensures that the correct individual is receiving the insurance benefits for their dental treatments. It is essential to confirm the beneficiary’s identity and eligibility to process insurance claims accurately.

6. Premium

Definition: A premium is the periodic payment made to maintain an insurance policy. It is usually paid monthly, quarterly, or annually, depending on the insurance plan and payment arrangement.

Importance: Knowing the premium amount and the schedule of premium payments is crucial for maintaining insurance coverage. Failure to pay premiums can result in the termination of the insurance policy, which would impact coverage for dental services.

7. Network Provider

Definition: A network provider is a dental healthcare provider that has a contractual agreement with an insurance company. Network providers agree to offer dental services at pre-negotiated, agreed-upon rates, which are often lower than standard fees.

Importance: Visiting network providers is advantageous for patients as it usually results in lower out-of-pocket costs. It’s essential for patients to understand which dental providers are in-network under their insurance plan to optimize cost savings.

8. Out-of-Network Provider

Definition: An out-of-network provider is a dental healthcare provider who does not have a contractual agreement with a patient’s insurance company. Patients have the freedom to choose out-of-network providers, but it may result in higher costs compared to visiting network providers.

Importance: Patients may incur higher out-of-pocket expenses when choosing an out-of-network provider. It’s essential for patients to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of seeing an out-of-network dentist, considering their insurance plan and personal preferences.

9. Explanation of Benefits (EOB)

Definition: An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a statement provided by the insurance company to the policyholder or beneficiary. It outlines how a dental claim was processed, including details about what the insurance company covers, what the patient owes, and any adjustments made during the claims process.

Importance: EOBs offer transparency about how dental claim payments are calculated and clarify the financial responsibilities of both the insurance company and the patient. Reviewing EOBs helps patients understand what they are expected to pay for dental services and ensures that claims are processed correctly.

10. Prior Authorization

Definition: Prior authorization is a process that requires approval from the insurance company before specific dental treatments or procedures are covered. It involves submitting detailed information about the proposed treatment plan to the insurance provider for review and approval.

Importance: Prior authorization ensures that patients receive coverage for necessary and often costly dental procedures. It helps prevent unexpected out-of-pocket expenses and provides clarity on what the insurance plan will cover.

11. Pre-authorization

Definition: Pre-authorization is a similar process to prior authorization, where dental treatment plans are submitted to the insurance company for approval before the procedure is performed. It confirms whether the proposed treatment is a covered benefit under the patient’s plan.

Importance: Pre-authorization provides patients and dental providers with advance confirmation of covered services, allowing for better planning and cost estimation before treatment.

12. Claim Denial

Definition: A claim denial occurs when an insurance company refuses to pay for a dental service, citing specific reasons outlined in the insurance policy. Denials can happen for various reasons, including lack of coverage, policy limitations, or incomplete documentation.

Importance: Understanding why claims are denied is crucial for both patients and dental providers. It allows for the identification of issues that need correction and resubmission, ultimately leading to successful claim processing.

13. Claim Rejection

Definition: Claim rejection is different from claim denial. It happens when an insurance company refuses to process a dental claim due to errors or missing information. Rejected claims need to be corrected and resubmitted for processing.

Importance: Recognizing and addressing claim rejection issues promptly is essential to ensure that claims are processed efficiently and that reimbursements are not delayed.

Learn more about the types of claim denials and how to avoid them here.

14. Verification Process

Definition: The verification process refers to the series of steps taken to confirm a patient’s insurance coverage, eligibility, and plan details. It typically involves contacting the insurance company or using electronic tools to obtain accurate information.

Importance: A thorough verification process is critical to ensure that dental providers bill accurately and that patients understand their coverage and financial responsibilities.

15. Coordination of Benefits (COB)

Definition: Coordination of Benefits (COB) is a process used when a patient is covered by multiple insurance plans. It determines which insurance plan is primary and secondary and specifies how each plan contributes to coverage.

Importance: COB ensures that multiple insurance plans work together efficiently to minimize the patient’s out-of-pocket expenses and avoid overpayments.

16. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

Definition: Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is the electronic exchange of dental information between dental providers and insurance companies. It replaces traditional paper-based communication and streamlines the verification and claims processes.

Importance: EDI enhances efficiency by reducing paperwork and expediting the exchange of essential information between dental practices and insurance companies.

17. Non-Covered Services

Definition: Non-covered services are dental procedures or treatments that are not included in a patient’s insurance plan. These are services for which the patient is responsible for paying entirely out of pocket.

Importance: Patients need to be aware of non-covered services to anticipate their financial responsibility accurately and make informed decisions about their dental care.

18. In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Coverage

Definition: In-network coverage refers to the benefits provided when a patient receives dental services from a dental provider who has a contractual agreement with their insurance company. Out-of-network coverage applies when patients choose dental providers who do not have such agreements.

Importance: Patients should understand the cost differences and coverage limitations associated with in-network and out-of-network dental providers to make informed choices about their care.

19. Reimbursement Rates

Definition: Reimbursement rates refer to the amount an insurance company pays a dental provider for specific dental services. These rates are typically predetermined and may vary depending on the insurance plan and the provider’s agreement with the insurer.

Importance: Understanding reimbursement rates helps dental practices calculate expected payments for services and manage their financial expectations when dealing with insurance claims.


Demystifying dental insurance verification is essential for both dental professionals and patients. With a clear understanding of these key terms and concepts, you can navigate the world of dental insurance with confidence.

Whether you’re a provider looking to streamline your verification processes or a patient seeking transparency in your dental costs, this glossary is your guide to making informed decisions and ensuring a seamless dental insurance experience.