Because of the current healthcare laws in place, 83 percent of Americans now have health insurance. The problem is that health insurance doesn’t include dental insurance. For the 108 hundred million Americans who don’t have dental insurance, getting care is often not affordable.
Even for Americans with dental insurance, coverage is a problem. Most policies are designed to cover preventative procedures, and so many Americans still have to pay up to 50 percent for treatments like crowns, implants, and dentures, procedures that are often out of reach for the average American.
Those without coverage are far less likely to see a dentist for routine cleanings, and most won’t see a dentist unless something is wrong. Reasons for not seeing a dentist include high costs and lack of transparency in pricing. More than 27 percent of U.S. adults ages 20 to 44 have untreated cavities. Not getting care can lead to major problems with teeth later down the road.
In US News and World Report, Dr. Marshall Young, a dentist in Newport Beach, California, said that even with good home dental care, problems can result.
“I’ve seen patients with excellent home dental care develop severe gum disease because their tartar had built up for years, causing gingivitis and gum disease. Also, patients that fail to come for regular checkups and cleanings can have decayed teeth that were at one time small, fixable issues.”
“There are clear links between gum disease and other systemic issues, such as heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease, to name a few,” Young says, adding that a dental exam can also identify digestive and bone health problems.”
Regardless of whether a person has dental insurance or not, there are many things you can do to cut the costs of dental visits and still get the care you want.
One of the solutions is looking for free or discounted exams from dentists who are looking for cash paying customers. Shop around and compare prices for procedures. This includes other towns in your surrounding area as prices may be lower since prices vary from location to location.
Check with local accredited dental schools as students are trained under the watchful eye of professional dentists. Many of these schools charge a lot less, and many accept dental insurance, so it is possible to stretch those yearly maximum payments. If possible, use money from a pre-tax health savings accounts to pay for your visits.
Consider getting a dentist’s advice. Your dentist may be able to recommend affordable dental insurance plans to help pay for any procedures, reports the LA Times.
Dental HMOs offer more affordable plans and may be an option. The advantage is that they offer no maximum on the amount of coverage you get.
Look for discount dental plans. Although these aren’t insurance and are not regulated by the Department of Health, they offer extensive savings on the cost of dental work and may even be combined with current dental plans.
Get estimates on the work to be done. Dentists are used to providing this information and can explain how much the work will cost.
Regardless of what route you choose, affordable dental insurance is available. Consider these options to help you get the most from your dental plan, save money, and get the dental care you want.
[Photo Credit Orchard Maple Family Dental]