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Discount Dental Plans - An Affordable Alternative To Dental Insurance

May 14, 2008
America is in the midst of a healthcare crisis. Close to 48 million Americans do not have any health insurance and many are underinsured. Even more Americans lack good dental care. Statistics show that as many as 7 out of 10 Americans do not have an affordable dental plan. This is a serious situation because dental and gum disease can effect your general health. There is evidence that the bacteria from diseased gums and teeth may cause inflammation in the body which can eventually lead to heart and coronary artery disease. Preventive dental care can avoid these serious complications. In addition, a pleasant and healthy smile can help you feel confident and secure when you meet people, and can even help you perform better at a job interview.

While most families realize the importance of good dental care, the cost of dental treatment has become prohibitively expensive in the past few years as has the cost of dental insurance. If you work for a large company, you may be able to obtain a traditional dental insurance policy. This will help with some expenses; however, most dental insurance plans have limits on how much an individual can spend on dental treatment per year. Typical annual dental plan yearly maximums are as low as $1,000 per patient. Treatment to save just one tooth with a root canal and a porcelain crown to protect the devitalized tooth will easily top this limit. What if a family member needs more extensive work than this?

Another problem that patients have with dental insurance is that there will usually be a waiting period of up to one year for pre-existing dental conditions to be covered. If you have a serious dental problem, waiting a year before treatment can be initiated will only lead to a worsening of the condition meaning more costly treatment will be required in the future. Most dental insurance policies also have a missing tooth clause. This means that if a bridge or partial denture is needed for a tooth that was missing prior to treatment; the patient is not covered and must pay out of pocket.

Most traditional dental insurance plans offer very limited or no coverage for orthodontic treatment (braces) even though good tooth alignment can prevent more serious dental problems later on. In addition, cosmetic dentistry and dental implants are rarely covered.

Another problem with dental insurance is the long claim forms that must be submitted. This is a hassle for both the patient and dental office alike.

Clearly for many families, a dental discount plan offers an affordable alternative to costly dental insurance. These dental discount plans are readily available to individuals, the self employed, as well as businesses. For patients with ongoing conditions or who need extensive restorative work, a dental discount plan is clearly the better choice because they will save much more with the discount program.

Savings with a good dental discount plan typically range from 25% for specialist treatment (periodontists, oral surgeons, endodontists, etc.) to 80% for exams. Most major dental procedures such as fillings, root canals, crowns and bridges, dentures, and orthodontic treatment offer savings from 50% to 60% and even more when done by a general dentist--literally cutting a family's dental bill by more than half. In addition, patients will enjoy instant savings, no limits on visits or services, no age limits, no waiting period, and no paperwork. As an added benefit, many discount dental plans also offer value added services such as a prescription card, and savings on chiropractic and vision care.
About the Author
Helene Zemel, M.A., M.B.A., is a Senior Regional Sales Director for AmeriPlan USA. For more information visit: Health Plans Plus. For a discussion on healthcare issues and alternative medicine choices visit her blog at: Health Plans Plus Blog
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