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Unlike home costs, cars, gas, postage stamps, and other things that have adjusted with inflation rates since the 1970s, your dental insurance hasn’t. That annual amount of coverage has stayed consistently around $1,500 or thereabouts. Which begs the question…how do you afford treatments when they aren’t covered by your plan?
A lot of dentists are starting to offer tailored savings programs for their patients without dental insurance. It usually works like a type of a membership plan, where you pay a flat fee to join and then take advantage of included services (routine cleanings, exams, etc.) or receive a fixed rate off of all treatments. The details vary from office to office, but it’s a dental financing plan worth asking about if you don’t have insurance coverage.
Your FSA doesn’t just cover things like over the counter medication, prescription drugs, or trips to the doctor’s office. It also includes your dental treatments and can be used with or without your existing insurance coverage.
If you’re planning on a certain type of treatment coming up, you can pay into your FSA and save on taxable income for the year while you’re at it. Once you’ve saved up enough for the procedure or you’re at your FSA cap investment, you can use it like you would a debit card to pay for services at your dentist’s office.
Most dental offices have some sort of low-interest of 0% financing programs for their patients. This may be something in-house or offered through a 3rd party lender such as CareCredit.
The way these types of programs usually works is that you’re able to apply for the line of credit, receive immediate approval and access to funds (to start treatment the same day) and as long as you pay the balance off in the required timeframe — usually 12 to 18 months — you can pay no interest on your dental financing.
When your dentist works with an insurance plan, they’re committed to charging rates that are dictated by the insurer. This may be much less than what other comparable dentists in the area are charging. But if you don’t have insurance, those fees are reset back to the base rate charged by the practice. If you offer to pay for your treatment in full, with cash at the time of your appointment, you can usually get another 3-5% off of the cost of the procedure.
Seniors, armed forces, and community service members such as teachers and police officers are usually offered some type of discount when they call to make an appointment.
As tempting as it can be, don’t avoid getting any dental treatment that isn’t elective. The fastest way to increase the cost and extent of your oral care is to allow existing issues — like tooth decay and gum disease — to be left untreated. Your small cavity today can be an abscessed tooth by your next checkup.
Talk to your dentist to learn more about the dental financing plans offered by their practice.