Dental Savings Plans vs Dental Insurance
Dental Savings Plans are an alternative to traditional dental insurance. Members of dental savings plans can expect to save 10-60% on the cost of their dental care. Plan members pay an annual fee to gain access to a nationwide network of dentists who have agreed to offer reduced rates to members.
Dental insurance is a great way to ensure that you get regular preventative care such as checkups and professional cleanings. Many insurance plans cover preventative care at no cost to the plan member – you get this critical care for free or at a very low cost. Seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy, and address any dental problems before they become complicated and costly to treat.
Dental savings plans are an excellent option for people who don’t get dental coverage from an employer, or who have specific oral healthcare needs that dental insurance doesn’t fully meet. As an example, someone who has been delaying dental care for years and now has a pressing need for a significant amount of restorative care may find that a dental savings plan provides the most affordable way to manage their dental costs.
How Dental Savings Plans Work
Why would a dentist offer deep discounts on his or her services? For many dentists, dental savings plans are a way to make dental care affordable for their uninsured and underinsured patients.
And, unlike traditional dental insurance, dental savings plans have no annual caps on spending – there’s no limit on how often you can use a dental plan to save. Many insurance plans cap costs at $1,000-$1,500 annually. Given that the average cost for a crown is $750-1200, and the cost of a single implant starts at $1500, you can exhaust your annual dental allowance fairly quickly.
For many people who need restorative treatments such as root canals and crowns, $1,500 falls short of the insurance coverage assistance that they need to pay their dental bill. Consequently, some people end up staggering treatments across two or more years in order to get the most out of their annual insurance allowance. But it’s not always advisable or possible to delay essential care for that long.
Additionally, with a dental savings plan, there is no waiting period imposed before a plan member can access care, and there are no restrictions on obtaining care for preexisting conditions such as broken or missing teeth. Dentists know that these are important considerations for countless people.
Dental savings plans may also provide savings on treatments that traditional dental insurance doesn’t cover, such as cosmetic whitening treatments.
And since members pay the discounted rate directly to the dentist, using a dental savings plan means that dentists don’t have to file insurance claims, wait for reimbursements, or deal with obtaining pre-treatment authorizations. Offering lower fees to plan members can result in cost and time savings for the dentist.
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Saving Money At The Dentist
Carefully consider your dental options – dental insurance, a dental savings plan or self-insurance (banking the amount you’d pay for dental insurance into your own health savings account).
Ask your dentist about dental savings plans. Find out what plans he or she accepts, and which plan the dentist thinks is the best fit for your dental care needs. You can also ask if the practice offers their own in-house dental financing plan, so that you can pay for your dental treatment over time instead of all at once. Check the details of any financing plan to make sure you come out ahead when you factor in interest payments or other costs.
You can also check into health care credit plans, but make sure you read the details carefully and can meet the payment schedule. If you can’t make payments when you’re expected to do so, the interest and penalties can mount up quickly.
Don’t have a dentist? Check the details of dental savings plans to see which one aligns best with the types of dental treatment you need. Review which dentists accept the plans you are considering. Also check to see what additional savings the plan offers – some provide discounts on prescriptions, vision and hearing care that can significantly boost your savings.
There is no one perfect solution that saves everyone the most money at the dentist. Do your research though, and you will find the right plan for your needs. One thing is for sure, delaying dental care due to budget concerns is a false economy. Getting regular checkups and cleanings and having little problems fixed as they crop up is far more cost-effective than dealing with the big, inevitable, expensive problems that occur when you don’t see a dentist regularly.