Three Ways To Stretch Your Fixed Income To Include Dental Care
It's sad but true that professional dental care often falls to the wayside when a person is on a fixed income. The problem with putting off routine care is that it can result in higher costs down the road as you start losing teeth and experiencing other oral health problems. If you're working with a tight budget, here are three ways you can reduce the cost of going to the dentist and protect your teeth and gums.
Going During Off-Peak Hours
Getting dental work done is nothing like buying a major appliance, but you should take the same approach and schedule care during off-peak times. There are certain times of the day, week, and year when dentists struggle to fill their calendars. Thus, they may be willing to give patients a discount if they take appointments during that time.
For instance, dentists tend to be busiest in July and August when kids are rushing to get checkups and work done before the school year starts, as well as in December (when benefits are set to expire) and January (when benefits renew). Conversely, May and June are slow patient months, so you may be able to score a decent discount if you wait to have major dental work done during that time.
Likewise, practices may be busier in the evenings and weekends when people are not working, but struggle to fill the exam rooms in the afternoon and may offer specials to get people in the office during those slow periods. It's worth calling around to various dental offices to ask about seasonal pricing, especially since doing so can make the care you need more affordable.
Ask for Cash Discounts
Another way you can score a discount on your dental work is to pay for the treatment in cash. Almost all dentists accept insurance, but it can be a pain dealing with insurance companies. In addition to having to filling pages and pages of forms, the dentist must wait months to receive the payment from the insurance company; that is, if the provider doesn't deny the claim for one reason or another.
On the other hand, cash is immediate and tangible. Thus, the dentist may be amendable to giving a discount on his or her services if you pay for them in cash, especially if you pay all at once at the start of your treatment. For instance, one patient's dentist gives her a 5 percent discount on services if she pays at her appointment. Some dentists may give more, depending on the type of care you receive.
Many times, this discount is only given to patients who don't have insurance. However, some dentists will also give discounts to patients who pay the portion their insurance plans don't cover upfront. Ask the dentist what his or her policy is regarding this option, and try to organize your finances so you can take advantage of any cash discounts offered.
Maximize Your Insurance with Scheduling
If you do have dental insurance, maximize your benefits by scheduling the services you receive. Some dental plans only pay up to a certain amount per year for services (e.g., $1,000 max for the covered time period). However, you may be able to get a pricey procedure completely paid for simply by being smart about how you schedule the different steps.
For example, it costs $3,000 to $4,500 for a single dental implant, but there are at least two to three steps involved in getting it: removing the damaged or diseased tooth, placing the implant post, and then placing the crown. It can take weeks for the mouth to heal after an extraction and months for an implant post to take hold in the jaw. Thus, if you schedule the first part of the procedure in the fall and the finish up at the beginning of the new year, your insurance plan may cover the whole cost since you're using benefits from two different years.
There are many creative ways you can save money on your dental care. Check out websites like http://www.airportroaddental.com/ to learn more.