In the United States, an estimated 26% of adults have untreated tooth decay. Moreover, close to half of adults aged 30 and over have gum disease. What’s even more concerning is that many of these problems are highly preventable.
Having access to affordable dental care is one of the ways to keep such oral health diseases at bay. Unfortunately, though, the US has some of the most expensive oral healthcare services. In fact, researchers estimate total dental spending this 2021 to reach $154.9 billion.
There’s still good news, though: there are several ways to help cut your dental costs. This guide will go over such methods to finding affordable oral health services, so be sure to read on!
Medicaid Coverage for Dental Care
As of February 2021, more than 74.22 million people in the US enrolled in Medicaid. Medicaid, in turn, is a state-administered health insurance program. However, it also provides dental coverage to some of its members.
Medicaid is available for children, low-income adults, the elderly, and pregnant women. People with disabilities can also enroll in this public program.
For children enrollees, Medicaid provides guaranteed dental benefits through its EPSDT program. EPSDT stands for Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic, and Treatment.
Under EPSDT, children can get covered treatment for mouth pain and infections. They may also qualify for teeth restoration and dental health maintenance services.
By contrast, not all adult Medicaid members have access to comprehensive dental care. For example, less than half of US states provide such coverage to adults under Medicaid. Still, all states cover at least emergency dental services under the program.
With that said, be sure to check your Medicaid dental insurance benefits. It may include services that can help you get affordable dental care.
Medicare Advantage Plan with Dental Benefits
Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, may cover some dental costs.
For example, some plans provide partial coverage for oral exams and dental cleanings. They may also help pay for diagnostics and restorative services such as fillings. Others may even have coverage for root canal and gum disease treatment.
Regardless of the type of Medicare Advantage plan, you’re likely to pay a portion of the costs. For example, you may have to pay a 50% coinsurance or a certain amount of copayment. That’s still better than paying 100% of all your dental costs, though.
What’s more, the Part A of your Medicare may also pay for inpatient hospital care due to a dental procedure. It may also help cover complicated or emergency dental procedures. However, these benefits usually only apply to medically necessary dental services.
Marketplace Health Plan with Dental Coverage
The latest data shows that 11.3 million people in the US have a Marketplace health plan. If you’re one of these folks, you may be eligible for dental benefits. That’s because some Marketplace health plans include dental coverage.
Such plans can help pay for basic or preventive dental service costs, such as teeth cleaning. They may also cover x-rays, fillings, and other diagnostic services.
Stand-Alone Dental Insurance
Almost six in 10 US adults aged 19 to 64 receive private dental insurance benefits. These stand-alone plans offer some of the most comprehensive dental benefits. They provide coverage for basic, preventive, and yes, even restorative oral healthcare services.
Most dental plans cover teeth cleaning, diagnostics, and dentist fees. They also help pay for pricey procedures like bridges, crowns, and fillings. Some even have coverage for orthodontics, such as braces, retainers, and Invisalign.
If you don’t have dental insurance yet, it’s time to shop around for a plan with adequate benefits. To ensure you get the most out of your plan, list all the services and treatments you need or want. Then, look for an insurer providing enough coverage for them at affordable premiums.
It’s also important to factor in the insurance company’s network of affiliated dentists. If you already have a preferred dentist, make sure your doctor is part of that network. Otherwise, your plan may not cover the costs you incur with a non-affiliated dentist.
In-Office Dental Financing
Compassionate dentists understand that not everyone is willing to pay for insurance. They also know many insurers have extreme limitations or offer too little coverage. For these reasons, most reputable dentists offer their own in-office financing plans.
For example, a reliable Invisalign provider may offer an installment payment scheme. In this case, the specialist may divide your total treatment cost over a period, such as 12 months. So, you’d only have to make smaller monthly payments for a year rather than paying the entire bill upfront.
Another example is an in-office dental plan or package similar to a dental insurance plan. The main difference is that an in-office plan comes from the dental office itself and not an insurer. So, your contract would be with your chosen dentist.
In-office dental packages usually come with a set of free services that you can get within a span of a year. For example, its cost may cover two visits, two cleaning, two fillings, and two extractions. Some higher plans may also come with a free x-ray and a once-a-year scaling and root planing.
Such plans may be more affordable as their combined costs come with a discount. However, you may have to pay for the entire plan in one or two lump sums. Still, the discount may be enough to offset the higher individual costs of each service.
Time to Explore Your Affordable Dental Care Options
As you can see, there are ways to secure affordable dental care, from insurance to dentist plans. If you want to get a dental plan, make sure your dentist is part of the insurer’s network. If you don’t want to go with the Marketplace, then at least seek a dentist who offers financing or in-office plans.
The most important thing is not to delay getting dental treatment. This way, you can keep costly preventable oral health woes at bay.
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