Dental work doesn’t have to be expensive; however, unemployment, inflation and stagnant incomes have left many Americans trimming it from their budgets. But proper oral care is more important than some may think. Inexpensive dental care is in the minority, however, so you may be asking yourself: is there such a thing as an affordable dentist?
Dental Insurance vs. Medical Insurance?
If you have medical insurance, you probably contribute a co-pay that covers the cost of the doctor’s visit as well as any tests your physician may recommend. Several weeks later, you can receive a statement from your insurance carrier detailing the expenses you incurred during your visit.
Though you only have to pay in the double digits, it’s not uncommon for a simple physical examination with routine blood work to run your insurer close to $1,000.
If you have dental insurance, however, know that a greater percentage of treatment costs will come out of your pocket instead of being covered by a third party. Only 10.3% of doctors’ visits, 3.3% of hospital care and 26.8% of long-term care expenses fell on the shoulders of patients in 2007. However, Americans paid a whopping 44.2% of their dental bills out-of-pocket that same year. While it may seem that your dentist is too expensive, you may in reality just have to bear a larger percentage of the cost.
The Focus of Dental Insurance
Your insurer’s priorities will become especially evident if you receive more complex treatment like bridges or crowns. Most traditional dental insurance focuses on prevention. Therefore, many policies cover nearly all costs of simple cleanings and checkups to encourage patients to visit the dentist regularly. The level of support drops dramatically, however, for more intensive procedures such as crowns, dentures and root canals.
Changes Since World War II
In the book “Making the American Mouth,” author Alyssa Picard speaks compellingly about the role the post-war orthodontic boom had in accustoming middle-class Americans to paying out of pocket for certain “nonessential” procedures. It was not long before parents accepted that paying for braces was an inevitable part of raising children, no different from footing the bill for school pictures, or test prep courses or sports leagues. As a result, Americans are often known for their straight teeth and glistening smiles. These standards may help explain why affordable dentists are increasingly hard to find.
High Dental Costs and Hidden Effects
Because dentistry professionals recognize the increased financial burden falling directly on patients, they usually give patients more control over their treatments.
For instance, if your dentist tells you that you need a root canal, he may offer to treat the tooth “either now or later, depending on your budget.”
- While it may reveal your dentist’s empathy, it can also create a false sense that you can delay treatment indefinitely without consequences. Unfortunately, procrastination will not make your teeth feel better. In fact, oral problems typically get much more severe and expensive the longer they remain untreated.
Rising treatment costs can cause patients to delay treatment and eliminate large numbers of patients from even considering a visit to a dental office. To encourage patients to avoid this common trap of waiting, many dentists accept discount dental plans to make treatment more affordable.
Do Affordable Dentists Exist?
Even if you have dental insurance through your employer, you will likely notice rising costs. However, a discount dental plan can significantly lower the cost of treatment for you. Unlike traditional dental insurance, there are no yearly maximums, waiting periods, deductibles or paperwork hassles, and you can begin saving right away.
Discount plans not only allow you to see a affordable dentist, they can also lower cost of dental treatment by discounts of 15-60%. In many ways, dental plans like the Careington 500 Series provide the best of both worlds: quality, comprehensive dental care at prices virtually everyone can afford.
To learn more about the difference between regular dental insurance and discount plans, check out this helpful article.