15 Oct 2019
October 15, 2019

How to Find Affordable Dental Care

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The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) revolutionized health care by providing subsidies and essential benefits while eliminating annual and lifetime coverage caps, allowing more Americans to receive high-quality health care than ever before. Unfortunately, dental care was excluded, leaving millions of Americans unable to afford even the most basic and essential dental services. Still, there is hope. Here are some suggestions on how to find affordable dental care.

Large fake white tooth on white table with jars of coins in the background.

Dental Insurance

Although dental insurance plans are filled with exclusions and annual caps, it is worth researching your options. Plans on the individual market are only slightly more expensive than employer-sponsored plans, dramatically increasing your choices

If you know you or a family member needs a specific procedure, look for a plan that will cover it with a minimal waiting period or even no wait at all. If you need extensive work, it is worth paying a few extra dollars per month for a plan with an annual cap of $2500 or $3000 rather than the more common $1000 or $1500.

Talk to your dentist if you plan to use dental insurance. Many times, we can plan out multi-stage procedures to overlap the end of one plan year and the beginning of the next, maximizing your coverage.

Dental Discount Plan

A dental discount plan can be combined with insurance, making it an excellent choice for almost anyone, provided your dentist will accept it. With a dental discount plan, you pay a few dollars per month (generally less than $10) in exchange for pre-negotiated lower rates on most dental procedures. There is usually no waiting period, so ask your dentist which plans are accepted before you sign up.

Dental Financing

Dentists realize that care is expensive, so most offer some form of financing option for major procedures. Care Credit and similar programs are the most common, and serve as credit cards that can only be used for medical, dental, and veterinary services. Although the interest rates are high, there are zero interest promotions if you pay off the balance within a certain time period. A major advantage to these programs is that their credit requirements are far lower than those of the average credit card.

If you have excellent credit and the ability to pay off the balance within the promotional time frame (typically one) year, another option is to open a limited-time, zero-interest rate credit card. This can actually help boost your credit score even higher if you remain disciplined in your use.

Some dentists also offer in-house financing for certain procedures. Ask the office staff about any offers for which you might qualify.

Dental School

If you are unable to afford dental work through a combination of insurance, discount plans, and financing, find out where the nearest dental school is. Although work is not free, you will pay about 1/4 to 1/2 of the typical cost in exchange for having your procedures performed by a dental student (under the close watch of a professor). Note that complex cases and patients with certain underlying medical conditions may not qualify, but it is worth going to an initial screening. Also note that this may not be the best choice for those with severe dental anxiety, as most dental schools are not equipped to administer sedatives stronger than nitrous oxide.

State and Local Resources

If you need free care or are not located near a dental school, you may be able to find a community dental clinic. Call your state or local dental society, or a nearby charity, for advice and information.

At Family Dental Care of Bellevue, we are committed to providing quality dental care to our patients and their families. We are proud to have been voted one of the best dental offices in Washington State. If you are ready to take the first steps toward improving your dental health, we invite you to call 425-643-5778 today to make an appointment for your initial consultation.

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