It is not secret that dental care is expensive, especially depending on the procedure you are receiving. In fact, according to this 2015 Health Reform Monitoring Survey released by Urban Institute, people are skipping visits to the dentist the most due to cost despite having health insurance.
Of course, this poses a serious problem in oral health. People are ignoring issues involving their teeth, and their health insurance coverage (or lack thereof) is not helping. They are more willing to miss visits to the dentist than most other health care services.
The good news is that cheap dentists and care do exist. Here are a few lower cost options to consider instead of sacrificing your health:
Pay cash and negotiate
My mom needed a dental implant a few months back. Here is what she did. First, she shopped hard. What she did was first she went to a free dental implant seminar offered by a dentist to get educated about implants in general. However, she didn’t like the look and feel of the office, so she got a recommendation to a specialist from a new local dentist in her hometown who was looking to get established. When it comes to getting dental implants, cheaper isn’t necessarily better – you want good quality.
Next she was savvy about asking for a discount. First she asked the reception staff what their reimbursement rate was. The reimbursement rate is important because that’s the lowest the dentist will usually accept. They don’t like it, but they will accept it. Refuse the payment plan. The terms are probably terrible and you don’t need the debt.
Ask for the best cash price. The office manager may need to discuss the transaction directly with the dentist or his/her office staff. Dentists are happy to get paid up front. Put the bill on your credit card and get the miles or reward points. Pay off the card immediately.
My mom got 5% off the cash price and 60,000 airline miles. She paid about $3,800 for the implant.
Find cheap dentists locally
Community dental clinics often offer free or cheap dental care. To get cosmetic services call a prosthodontics dentist near you that has high-quality services. Starting with a simple internet search can get you far. The American Dental Association (ADA) website enables you to search for low-cost dental programs in your state. There may be some professionals who are willing to adjust their costs to your income. Along with the ADA, you can reach out to your local United Way, which has a mission to help improve communities. They may be able to refer you to those dentists who work with you financially.
Go through a dental school
Because dental students need hands-on training, you can receive affordable oral health care through one of their clinics. They work under the supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist so that their work can also be checked. You may end up spending more time in the appointment than you normally would, but the financial trade-off is there.
Find alternative plans
If you do have insurance, but it lacks much or any coverage for your teeth and gums, you can opt to include a discount plan to help supplement excessive costs that may arise. :DentalPlans is a membership-type plan where you pay a certain amount annually to receive discounts. What you pay depends on what you need. You will want to make sure to review the terms as well as seeing if your dentist will accept plans like this for treatment.
Communicate with your dentist
By simply speaking with your dentist regarding your current financial situation, you may be able to receive affordable care. See if you can work out a payment plan option or what can be negotiated. Who knows; you may even be able to do a trade-of-services with your dentist’s office, depending on what they may need.
Along with the above, you could look into participating in medical studies for specific types of care and always seeking a second opinion.
When it comes to your health (and your wallet), it is important to keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to still look out for yourself. Just try not to compromise quality in the process.
For more on this topic check out our posting on the great secret to cheap dental care.