dental cost include premiums, deductibles and co-insurance. Annual maximums, which are the most your insurance will pay in a year, also play a role.
Many employer-sponsored health insurance plans include dental coverage, and high-deductible health plans often feature health savings accounts that can be used for dental care. Other options include discount dental plans and self-pay.
Insurance is one way to reduce out-of-pocket dental costs. Many people get their insurance through their employer, but it is also available for purchase on the individual marketplace or directly through a private insurance company. In addition to premiums, it is important to understand the deductible and coinsurance that may apply to your policy.
The deductible is a set yearly dollar amount that you must pay out of pocket before your insurance starts to cover procedures. Typically, once the annual deductible is met, your insurance will begin to cover a percentage of the costs based on the type of treatment. For example, the average dental insurance plan covers preventive care like exam and cleanings for 100% of the cost, 80% of basic services such as fillings and 50% of major services such as crowns.
Dental insurance plans vary by type, but most work on a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) model where patients have access to a network of dentists who agree to discounted rates for covered services. These plans are often paired with an annual maximum, which is the total amount that the insurance company will pay for covered treatments within a year. This maximum can be reached quickly if you require extensive treatment, so it is important to keep track of your costs and compare options before choosing a plan.
Dental insurance can be expensive, especially if you have a plan with a deductible and coinsurance. Discount dental programs, also known as dental savings plans, are an alternative that can make getting oral care more affordable. These are annual membership programs that offer a network of providers and discounts on procedures to reduce your out-of-pocket costs.
Most of these are Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans that allow you to visit any dentist in the network for a reduced fee. You pay a one-time, upfront annual fee or a monthly premium for the plan and are then provided with a discount card that you show to the provider at each appointment. The provider will then subtract the pre-negotiated discount from the regular cost and bill you accordingly.
The benefits of these plans include no waiting periods, no deductibles and often no out-of-pocket maximums. However, they do not cover preventive services 100% like a traditional insurance policy and may only offer a 20%-50% discount on other services, such as fillings or crowns.
You should carefully review the dentist networks, fees and other features of each plan before choosing one. Also, compare the annual membership fees to the potential savings on procedures to ensure the program makes financial sense for you. Some of these plans also offer online price comparison tools, which can help you figure out which dentists will be the cheapest before going in for any work.
Many dental offices offer in-house financing, but there are also third-party platforms available online. These are typically personal loans that can be used for most any purpose, including dental work. Most of these can be prequalified, which doesn’t hurt your credit. However, they may have higher interest rates than a traditional bank or private loan.
Another option is to build an emergency fund and use that to cover the cost of your dental procedures. This takes discipline and consistency, but it can help you avoid paying high interest rates or tapping into your savings.
Whether you’re considering using a third-party platform or your own savings, make sure you know exactly how much each procedure will cost put together. Then, you can decide if it’s worth the financial sacrifice.
If you do choose to finance your dental expenses, be sure to compare rates and terms with a few lenders. You should be able to find a lender that offers low monthly payments and accepts your preferred form of payment. In addition, you can often prequalify for a medical or dental loan without affecting your credit score. UC works with a wide variety of providers and lenders to offer flexible options. Patients can apply online or in the office and get a decision in minutes. This allows them to focus with their dentist on treatment and getting better health.
A dental savings plan can reduce your out-of-pocket costs for procedures like crowns, veneers and dentures. It works by offering a discount off the provider’s regular fee. You can find prices for your area by searching online, or asking dentists for quotes.
A capitation program pays contracted dentists a fixed amount on a monthly basis per enrolled patients. The plans allow patients to visit any dentist they choose and may cover a portion of the cost for certain treatments.
Preferred provider organization (PPO) plans offer a network of dentists that have agreed to discounts on their fees. Patients can still choose to go outside of the network but will likely pay a higher cost.
Exclusive provider organization (EPO) plans work similarly to a health insurance PPO but typically exclude orthodontics as well as some cosmetic treatments. Patients can choose to see any dentist, but will usually pay a higher cost for out-of-network care.
Dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) plans work much like a health insurance HMO but cover lower-cost services. Most of the time, DHMOs have networks that you must stay within to receive full benefits.
Personal loans, such as those offered by credit unions and banks, are a low-cost option for financing dental work. However, you should consider all your options before choosing this route. You’ll likely be required to pre-qualify and make monthly payments, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully before applying.