By Susan Braden
The current economic situation has left many people jobless with no dental insurance. Unemployment should not lead to oral problems that could last a lifetime. Oral hygiene is an important part of general health and well-being, and former employees have several discount plan options to keep taking care of their teeth. People can join a discount dental plan even if they are not part of a company, which could be an attractive option for the unemployed.
People do not need to be part of a company to join a discount program. Discount plans offer simple assistance by eliminating maximums, deductibles and claims. Instead, usually these plans involve a low monthly or annual payment. The patient pays the dentist directly for services rendered. While some dentists offer payment plans, discount plans are different. They simply give the patient a significant discount on the price the practice would normally charge. This can benefit the unemployed by both reducing costs and eliminating the need for insurance offered through an employer.
Most plans sign up providers through a contract that benefits both dentists and patients. The patient benefits because the dentist is contracted to work under a specific fee schedule for members, which often is 20-60% or more off the normal cost. Dentists benefit because their clientele base grows to include people who formerly may not have been able to afford proper care, like the unemployed. The simple system works to the interest of both parties.
Insurance companies typically do not cover procedures that could be classified as “cosmetic,” such as braces or implants. Discount plans, however, recognize that these procedures are not always performed solely for cosmetic reasons, and they may offer a cost reduction regardless of the fact. If a person feels that he or she could use some smile improvement before venturing out into the job market, a discount plan could be a solution.
Insurance also does not cover pre-existing conditions, such as ongoing periodontal disease or work that was partially completed before coverage was available. Discount plans, however, can cover pre-existing conditions and are often effective within 24 hours or less. This type of plan helps prevent an unemployed person from shouldering any unnecessary expenses associated with pre-existing conditions that he or she may not otherwise be able to afford.
Simple discount plans provide viable options for those without alternate coverage. Oral health should not fall by the wayside, because even small unaddressed problems could turn into large ones later in life. Dental insurance is not always an option for everyone, but a discount plan might be a more affordable alternative to dental insurance for your family.