Proper dental care is essential to the health and well-being of your teeth; yet, many Americans neglect visiting a dentist. Why? A survey conducted by the American Dental Association points out that cost and low perceived need are among the top reasons.
The first thing that comes to mind about paying for dental care is probably dental insurance. However, it can be expensive and is often not covered under employer-sponsored health care plans. Roughly 74 million Americans did not have dental insurance in 2016, according to the National Association of Dental Plans.
Without dental insurance, procedures can range anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Luckily, if you don’t have insurance, or can’t afford it, there is another money-saving option: a dental savings plan.
What is a dental savings plan?
A dental savings plan provides membership-based discounts. You pay a low-cost annual fee and receive a 10% to 60% discount on dental health maintenance and interventions. The referral company works directly with in-network dentists to negotiate the rates. As a plan member, simply show your membership card at the dentist, and pay the discounted fee without worrying about any deductibles or a copay. It’s really that simple.
Why is a dental discount plan better than dental insurance?
There are many perks that make dental discount plans more desirable than dental insurance:
- It’s easy to sign up, and most plans do not have pre-existing conditions exclusions
- Generally a lesser cost than traditional dental insurance
- There are no monthly premiums, just a low annual membership fee
- No deductibles or copays
- There are no waiting periods: as soon as you become a member, you can start saving
- You only pay the pre-negotiated amount at the time of service
- You will never have to worry about claims paperwork for reimbursements
- Discount plans do not limit discounts on procedures; insurance usually has a yearly cap around $1,500
- You can easily switch plans if needed
- Discount plans usually offer procedures insurances do not cover like cosmetic dentistry
The problem with dental insurance is that coverage is pretty poor. While the cost of two yearly checkups are often fully covered, payouts for major procedures are low. The best dental discount plans help you save money and offer quality dental care. Members save on preventive treatments such as cleanings and x-rays, and major procedures like root canals and bridges.
What are the costs of a dental discount plan?
While the average individual dental insurance policy will cost you hundreds of dollars annually, the Metrodent dental savings plan is affordable. An individual plan is as low as $85 a year, while a family member plan cost around $150. As a member, you will receive the discounted fees.
The Metrodent Fee Schedule is available to view online. This shows you exactly what you can expect to pay as a member. You can even compare the discounted rate to what you’d pay without the membership. For example, a crown normally costs $1,007. With a dental discount plan, you might pay $425. A $582 savings!
How do I select a dentist?
More and more dentists are participating in dental discount plans. If you already have a dentist you want to stick with, it doesn’t hurt to ask. The more inquiries they get, the more likely they are to participate.
If you choose to search for a new dentist who participates in a dental discount plan, be sure to make a careful selection. Recommendations from friends or family members, and ratings and reviews online, are all good ways to help you in your search. You can also find participating dentists on some dental plans’ websites such as the Metrodent dentist finder.
Signing up for a dental discount plan?
Find out if they have a 30-day money back guarantee before you sign up for a plan. This way, you will be refunded the yearly premium and processing fees if your dentist is not in the plan’s network.
Make sure to read the fine print on their savings plan. Basic cleanings and fillings are commonly covered, but if you anticipate needing extensive work, know coverage can vary from plan to plan. Not all dental discount plans cover extensive procedures like veneers and bonding, and cosmetic work. If you know you need a certain procedure done, try comparison shopping on the specific work you require.
If you and your family expect to invest time and money at the dentist in the near future, a dental discount plan is the way to go. Traditional dental insurance is costly, and with frequent visits you will quickly reach the annual maximum. The best dental discount plans allow you to save money on most procedures, all while eliminating the hassles associated with traditional insurance.
This article was reviewed and approved by a board certified dentist.