By Susan Braden
Affordable dental care is optimal for maintaining your budget. Even if you have dental insurance, it often only covers a small fraction of the total cost of care. Since many oral procedures are not elective, you may not have the luxury of time when thinking about saving your money. Fortunately, there are several solutions and strategies that can help you cover unavoidable out-of-pocket dental costs for the most affordable dental care possible, such as financing, employer coverage, or a discount dental plan.
Especially if you are a long-time patient in good standing, many practices will offer in-house financing to help you stretch the charges over several months. They might also give you the option of giving a down payment and paying the rest of what you owe upon completion of a series of procedures. Generally, this financing is done on a case by case basis, and whether it will be an option for you depends on several factors, including the amount you owe, the frequency with which you can pay, and the nature of the procedure. Remember, you have nothing to lose by asking about this option, so inquire by phone or at the time of your next visit.
If you are in need of restorative or cosmetic procedures, there are a number of private companies and independent financing plans that can help. Some offer “same-as-cash” loans with no interest for one to two years; others furnish low-interest plans that require you to pay in monthly installments with little or no down payment. Your dentist might already work with one of these companies, so inquire before applying online or over the phone. Usually, you will know within a few minutes whether you have been approved.
Where do you go to find the best third-party dental financing that can help you to obtain the dental care you need? The options are endless. Here is just a small sample of some of the most popular:
Another source of help in finding affordable dental services might be your employer. Some workplaces give you the option of setting up a flexible spending account whereby a portion of your income is set aside before taxes are assessed. Generally, you have a yearly amount allocated for healthcare expenses, including out-of-pocket dental costs. Consult with your employer to see if your company offers this option and to get information on how to apply and the reimbursement procedure.
Finally, an increasingly popular option for helping with your dental expenses is discount dental plans. These alternatives to dental insurance are inexpensive and easy to use. An added advantage is that these plans have no annual limits and no long or difficult paperwork. In many cases, they even cover specialties such as orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. One of the premier discount dental plans is the Careington 500 Series plan with over 65,000 participating dentists. If finding affordable dental care is a priority for you, signing up for a discount plan such as the Careington 500 Series could easily save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in the years to come.
After you have investigated the various alternatives available to you, the prospect of unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses is not quite as daunting. Once you know you are protected from bearing the full brunt of these high costs, going to the dentist and seeking the care you and your family need will not be such a frightening prospect. While visiting the dentist might never become something you look forward to, you can at least approach your visits with the knowledge that you can afford it.