A Dichotomy in Dentistry: Affordability
Dentistry is expensive. If you're paying out of pocket, you're well aware of that fact. With insurance companies lowering fees for dentist, many are opting to be out-of-network, meaning that an out-of-network dentist, is under no contractual obligation to charge you an agreed fee (usually lower) but can instead charge you their full fee. You throw in a pandemic, the rising cost of PPE, labor, competition, and you start to get the picture. Dentists all over the nation have probably started to raise their fees to make up for loss of revenue during the shutdowns in 2020. So how can you, the patient, find ways to be able to afford the dentistry you need? Thats a great question! Here are my tips as follows.
Be committed to get treated today, instead of tomorrow.
Do you remember the last time you changed the oil in your car? Rotated your tires? Changed the air filter? You know the regular maintenance your car needs in order to function properly. Maintenance is important for a car, to increase its longevity and performance! If you don't it will breakdown. Its inevitable and so will be the bill to fix it. You were presented with two options at the time. It was either spend a little money up front to maintain and service your car or kick the can down the road. The latter option usually ends up costing us more
in the long run. This anology is the same for dentistry. Your care will always cost the least, the sooner you get it fixed. A $300 filling could turn into a $2800 root canal and crown in a hurry. So while you were intending to save money, you actually ended up spending more.
2. Don't let insurance dictate your treatment.
This is along the same lines of point one. I made sure to make this a seperate point because its so common for me to hear patients say "well, what does my insurance cover?" or "I'll only do whatever insurance helps with" and "doc, lets just do this crown this year, and then when my insurance pays again next year we will do the other one". Do you see what is happening? You are allowing your insurance to control when you get treated in order to save money up front. Lets say you did only knock out treatment on one tooth every year, because of yearly maximums by insurance companies. What then? What about your other teeth that need treatment? What if you had several teeth that only needed fillings, and you ended up waiting until next year only for those cavities to grow and then become teeth that need root canals and crowns. When this happens, you enter what I call a dental twilight zone. You can come anytime you like, but you can't ever leave! You end up in a perpetual cycle of problems, because you didn't get it all taken care of when they were small problems. The ugly truth about insurance companies, is that they really don't offer insurance. The yearly maximums are anywhere between $1500-$2500 most of the time, and that hasn't changed in decades. Dental insurance is more like a coupon you can use, that expires every year. Time isn't on your side when it comes to being treated for dental problems. Don't let insurance dictate when and how you are treated!
3. In-house payment plans or third party financing.
The average dentist in 2021 has become more sophisticated in what payment options he can offer. Most offices do have some form of in-house payment plans for certain amounts, the amount depends on how much exposure the dentist is willing to have. For larger treatment plans most dentists opt to accept 3rd party financing, however approval is credit history dependent.
4. Membership Plans
This is by far my favorite! Offices all over the country are rolling out their own membership plans. While the plan varies from office to office, they're usually somewhat similar. You can get X-rays, exams, and two cleanings a year for a monthly fee, or yearly fee. Dentists will also throw in perks, like a certain percentage off your treatment. These plans are fant
astic because they allow people who don't have access to affordable dental insurance through an employer to be able to get the preventative dental treatment they need at a very affordable fee. The best part however is that there are no yearly maximums, there is no insurance company to deal with! If you're interested in learning more about our membership plan, at Cross Creek Dental you can go to https://www.lorenadental.com/dental-membership-plans
5. Pre-payment discounts
Ask your dental office about this! Its a super easy way to get a discount on your treatment because dentists know on average, patients who pre-pay will show up for their appointments. So as a way to reward "good behavior" they'll more than willing to extend a small discount, when you pre-pay for your treatment!
I hope this information has been somewhat useful for you. Remember your oral health is just as important as everything else, strike a good balance and prosper!
Written by : Dr. Noe Chaparro (owner/dentist at Cross Creek Dental)