Dental Care Doesn’t Have To Take A Bite Out Of Your Wallet

By Jon Noble,  guest blogger

Even though Healthcare has been a hot topic up on the Hill over the past year, Dental Care continues to be overlooked and even if you have insurance, it can really take a bite out of your wallet.

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, nearly half the people in the United States have some type of coverage.  Even with coverage, the typical plans usually only cover 50% on major procedures such as bridges, root canals and crowns, which can average about $750 an up, per tooth.

Although we can’t make a visit to your local dentist more fun than a barrel of monkeys, here are some tips that may help you reduce your costs and keep those pearly whites sparkling for years to come:

  • Don’t rush to go out and get dental coverage. The National Association of Dental plans reports that the family average for a modest plan will cost about $97 per month.  That’s because the average benefits tend to cap out around $1,000 per person. So if you don’t have insurance already, make sure you review your premiums and out-of-pocket costs prior to joining a plan.  Compare them to your past and potential future needs.  Unlike most medical needs, some dental needs can often be foreseen.  Talk with your dentist and see what you might expect over the next year.  If you’ve had crowns or root canals, chances are that you are going to have a need for more.  If that’s the case, insurance may be a good buy.  However, if during your regular visits to the dentist only entail a cleaning, then insurance may not be needed.  Make sure that you also confirm that your dentist is in-network.
  • An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you do elect not to purchase insurance or if you simply cannot afford it, don’t skimp on your regular checkups.  They may cost you a couple of hundred dollars a year but maintaining your teeth can help you avoid more expensive procedures down the road.  If for example, you have a small crack in a tooth, it can easily be filled for very little cost.  If left untreated, it may turn into a root canal and that can cost you several hundred dollars to fix.
  • Discount programs may be the right call. If you don’t have insurance and are faced with a big ticket procedure, you should consider enrolling in a dental discount program.  Most plans will offer you 10% to 60% off your procedure(s) within a few days after you enroll.  Most insurance plans can require up to a 6 month waiting period. Families can get up to a year’s worth of discounted coverage for about $135 – $200.  Individual coverage can cost around $80 to $160.  The best way to determine which discount plan may be right for you is to call your dentist.  Ask them which plans they accept and which give you the best care that they think you will need.  You should also see if your dentist will offer a “cash discount.”  Most will give you at least a 10% discount when paying cash.

Stopgaps may help.  Sometimes, you may run into a situation when you have insurance but you have also reached your benefits cap.  Ask your dentist if there are any temporary measures that could be taken until your full benefits kick back in.  For example, a filing may be a short term fix instead of a crown.