By Susan Braden
The number of Americans with no dental insurance is staggering. According to the New York Times, in 2007 more than 100 million people were uninsured for visits to the dentist. Five years since, the number of uninsured has only grown. Today, there are even more people who have been left uninsured. Employers are cutting back coverage at break-neck speeds, leaving individuals and families uninsured for dental care.
Dental coverage is often very expensive for corporations. A person’s insurance claims from the dentist can sometimes cost a company more than their actual health insurance. Many corporations view dental insurance as non-essential and is simply added to the existing insurance. For this reason, when corporations are cutting back, dental insurance is usually the first thing to go.
Without dental insurance, many people find it financially impossible to get their necessary work done. However, many companies have begun offering low-cost dental plans, which can greatly reduce a patient’s out-of pocket costs. Dental plans are available to the general public for $99.00 – $200.00 per year, and often reduce a patient’s bills by 15% – 60%. An average family can save around $1200 with a dental plan, versus paying the full price at the dentist's office over the course of a year.
If uninsured, basic oral maintenance is cost-prohibitive. For an individual, a trip to the dentist office for a basic work can cost well over $200. If the patient needs any additional maintenance, the price skyrockets. Common procedures, like crowns and root canals, can cost over $1000 each! Some other common costs at the dentist can include: $150-$250 for a single filling, $800-$1000 for a full mouth deep cleaning, $1500-$2500 for one implant, and $2500-$3500 for a complete set of upper and lower dentures. If uninsured, a visit to the dentist office can easily run anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000. These prices are impossible for most people.
The Affordable Health Act will assist in providing low cost or free dental care to all uninsured United Stated citizens. Ideally this bill would eliminate the uninsured class entirely. However, the current proposed bill would only affect health coverage, and would offer no help with dental insurance. While this legislature is still receiving criticism and debate, there is hope that a dental bill could eventually be drawn; but that could realistically take years before it would be set in place. In the mean time, millions of Americans still seek low cost dental plans.
As the economy slowly turns around, many companies are still hesitant to offer dental insurance for their employees. Unfortunately, many major corporations have now become accustomed to not paying for dental coverage. It remains to be seen if dental insurance will be offered again by major corporations, or if employers will be left feeling the pain.