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Should you choose dental insurance or a discount dental plan?
Updated: 1/23/2013 11:41:22 AM

Should you choose dental insurance or a discount dental plan?

One of the biggest pieces of legislature that has been discussed often in the past few years is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which aims to offer affordable health insurance to all Americans who do not currently have access to it. While this is important news for all U.S. residents who are looking to purchase health insurance, it's not going to do much for those without dental coverage. The American Dental Association points out that it's important for people to understand that while the ACA will extend dental benefits to an estimated three million children by 2018, it does not address the oral health needs of adults.

This leaves the estimated 100 million Americans who don't have dental insurance to either purchase coverage on their own, or pay for dental work out of their own pockets, which can be very expensive. People without insurance can pay as much as $250 for a simple filling, and will have to shell out a great deal more for extensive procedures such as root canals or gum surgery. However, the consequences of ignoring dental problems are even greater. If left untreated, dental issues such as gum disease or tooth decay can allow bacteria in the mouth to multiply and potentially enter the bloodstream, allowing it to infect the rest of the body. Also, people who ignore their dental needs have a very high chance of losing their teeth.

Even people with Medicaid may need to look for other options if they need dental care.

"Only 20 percent of the nation's practicing dentists provide care to people with Medicaid, and only an extremely small percentage devote a substantial part of their practice to caring for those who are underserved," Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told ABC News.  

So what should people who don't have dental coverage through their employer or the government do if they want to keep their teeth healthy? They are left with two options - they can either purchase insurance on their own or look into a discount dental plan. 

Insurance vs. a discount plan 
According to Forbes magazine, while there are individual insurance plans available, these may not be the best options for everyone. Between monthly fees and annual deductibles, plus the fact that some preexisting conditions may not be covered, people may end up spending a great deal of money on dental insurance only to end up still having to pay out of their own pockets for certain types of dental work. This is why individuals may want to look into discount dental plans to help them pay for oral care. 

For about $100 a year, discount dental plans will offer people access to a network of dentists in their area who are willing to offer care at a reduced rate. Why would dentists agree to this? When a dentist is paid with insurance, he or she has to file a claim and wait to be paid. However, under a discount dental plan, a dentist is paid immediately following treatment by the person who has the plan, who will pay up to a 60 percent reduced rate. These affordable plans allow people to get any treatment they need at a price they can handle. 

When looking for dental work, HealthInsurance.org recommends that people be savvy consumers and ask for a summary of fees for x-rays, cleanings and dental exams so they can compare costs. Furthermore, it's always important for people to look on the internet for more information on costs and discount dental plans. 


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