Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Managing Dental Costs When You're Uninsured

So MUCH has been said and written about the millions of Americans without health insurance, but often overlooked in these discussions is another vital medical statistic; more than 100 million Americans are without dental coverage.
For most people, a toothache that turns into an expensive procedure like a crown or implant can cost thousands of dollars out of pocket. Even routine check-ups with x-rays and a cleaning can add up to hundreds of dollars. It has been estimated that over one third of Americans have not visited a dentist in the last 12 months.
The Affordable Healthcare Act was formally implemented beginning September of 2013, but includes emergency dental care for children only; adults are left to find their own coverage. Given the nature of insurance companies and the cost of premiums vs. the actual procedures covered, relief from dental bills is not likely to come soon. That leaves it up to consumers to find smart ways to reduce their dental care costs without sacrificing their oral health. So, we did some research on ways to cut back on dental related costs. 

  • Consider a good dental plan.  Better than insurance, some dental plans offer discounted fees with low premiums and no limit or "cap", no waiting periods on procedures, no exclusions and immediate coverage. Early on, the Obamacare website actually suggested  stand alone dental plans for adults!
  • Try having your dental care done at a Dental School Clinic.  Teaching facilities have amazingly skilled dentists and in most cases the cost is cheaper than a private practice facility. Not to mention they use the most state of the art equipment so that your experience is more comfortable.
  • Space out your treatments.  If you have extensive work to be done, most dentists will work according to a treatment plan, and a "pay as you go" strategy can go a long way toward helping the patient so those out of pocket expenses don't have to break the bank all at once! 
  • Disclosure-No Surprise Fees!   Make sure to always, ALWAYS get the cost for the treatment plan or procedure before you agree to have it done, or sign anything.  Many patients agree to procedures while they are in the chair and don't fully understand that there may be an additional cost...an exorbitant additional cost.  Keep yourself from sticker shock by asking first and discuss other options if you cannot afford the procedure.  
  • Prevention, Prevention, Prevention!  The key to saving on dental costs (just like having your car worked on) is to fix small problems before they become big ones.  Have your teeth cleaned twice a year and don't skip that oral exam. 

Here is a parting thought for those of you in the market for dental coverage.  PLEASE check the benefits carefully when considering dental insurance.  The premiums will always be more than the pay out...coverage is always limited and there will almost always be a waiting period for expensive procedures. They want to make sure they have your premiums firmly in hand before the payouts begin. It's the truth....do your homework carefully! A good dental plan is more effective at saving you money than an insurance company will ever be. 

Keep Smiling! 

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