Dental insurance is the fringe benefit most of us want, but either do not have or isn’t sufficient for our needs. Dental care is extremely important as gum disease and bad teeth can have an effect on your heart and other vital organs.
In recent years, the nation’s major health care companies have improved the dental plans offered as consumer demand has required these companies to do so. If you lack dental coverage, there are some steps you can take to ensure that your family’s twice-yearly visits to the dentist are covered.
1. Get it through work — The most affordable dental insurance is the one provided by your employer. Certainly, you’ll have to pay a portion out of your pocket each week for coverage, but at least you’ll be covered. If not available at your company, ask your Human Resources department if this fringe benefit might be added. Basic coverage is not costly and, if all of the employees express interest in a plan, it could show up the next time your company changes its benefits package.
2. Get it yourself — Direct coverage isn’t as expensive as you might think, running about $125 per month for a family of four. Paying $1500 annually for dental insurance coverage seems pricey, but it usually covers your office visits and cleaning. Bigger ticket items, such as fillings and implants, are priced at a discount.
3. Go to school — If you cannot get coverage through work and you can’t afford to pay for dental insurance yourself, then contact the nearest college or university with a Dental Arts program. Dental students need people to practice on, therefore most schools offer “clinic” hours which are open to the public. You’ll pay for your visits, but the rates are substantially lower than what your dentist charges. Students are observed by their teachers who are dentists themselves.
4. Get a discount card — Be wary of this option, because the savings offered may not add up. Under this arrangement, you obtain a discount card which can be used at dentists who are part of this network. You’ll still pay for everything, but your rates on office visits, cleanings and dental work will be reduced by a certain percentage.
Not every dentist wants to deal with insurance, therefore your dentist may charge you at the rate the insurance companies pay him. That means if your visits are usually $85 and the insurance company pays your dentist $47, then he’ll charge you the lower rate. It isn’t insurance, but it represents what you’re really after: savings!
Insure.com: Your Options for Dental Insurance
Photo: Bashar Farhat