I opened my inbox and right near the top was a frantic letter from Lisa, who is facing an emergency dental situation with a $15,000 price tag on it. She is desperate for options that will let her keep her teeth while not plunging her into debt.
Another letter from the Madison family related that their finances are so tight, they cannot afford the “luxury” of regular dental care—not even routine x-rays and cleaning. That letter ended, “Is there a dental plan for families in our situation? Please answer soon before our teeth fall out!”
Not a Luxury
While I am not a dentist, I know that dental care is not a luxury. It is essential to the good health of every family member. And the best way for Lisa and the Madison Family to avoid big dental bills is to practice regular preventive care. Even then, routine hygiene and x-rays should be seen as absolutely mandatory.
As for Lisa, she’s in a tough situation. I’m not confident that dental insurance—if by some miracle she could get it now—would be that helpful. The problem is that typically you must wait six months to a year before certain procedures are covered.
Lisa’s condition could be excluded completely from a new insurance policy as preexisting. Then there’s a maximum annual benefit of $1,000 to $1,500. And the annual premium on most individual dental plans? Typically half of the annual benefit.
I’m not sure if any portion of her $15,000 dilemma would be considered cosmetic, but I hope not because most dental insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures.
A Plan with Hope
I am excited because I have good news for Lisa and the Madison family—something I hope all of my readers will also consider seriously: Dental Savings Plan. These plans are not insurance, do not work like insurance, and do not carry the downside of most dental insurance.
Dental Savings Plan are membership plans. They’re easy to understand if you think about Costco or Sam’s Club or any other such club. You pay an annual fee, which gives you full privileges at Costco warehouse clubs for the year. You walk in, show your card to enjoy highly discounted prices on the things you need. That’s how a Dental Savings Plan works. You sign up with a plan your dentist accepts (be sure to call your dentist’s office to verify they do accept the Dental Savings Plan you are considering), pay your membership fee, get your card, then show it at every appointment and enjoy highly discounted dental services and procedures.
The cost of a Dental Savings Plan varies but basically, an individual pays around $120 per year, and families pay around $170 per year—yes, for the entire family.
Most insurance companies are now offering these dental savings plans. There are many to choose from, and they are all listed in one place at Dental Savings Plan. If your dentist doesn’t participate, you could ask him or her to sign up or find a dentist in your area that does (thousands do!). When you use a dentist in your plan, you get a discount of up to 60 percent, depending on the plan.
It’s So Simple
Dental Savings Plans have no annual maximums, do not exclude preexisting conditions, have no monthly premiums (membership fees are paid once each year) and there are no waiting periods.
I know you have questions about Dental Savings Plans. All the answers are at the Dental Savings Plans website. You can look up your dentist, find dentists in your area and the Dental Savings Plans they accept. It’s easy to determine which plan might be best for you. If you have any additional questions, you can give them a call at 1-866-601-2924.
It was a happy surprise the day I discovered that our new dentist here in Colorado is part of the Dental Savings Plans network. The savings are real, no gimmicks or hassles.
Steps to follow
- Go to Dental Savings Plan.
- Find a dentist in your area
- Call that dentist office directly, and verify that they accept Dental Savings Plans.
- At the Dental Savings Plan site, select and purchase the plan that suits you and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a discount dental plan?
Discount dental plans are an affordable and easy-to-use alternative to dental insurance. Plan members have access to a large network of participating dentists that have agreed to offer their services at discounted fees. Dental savings plans work like a club membership; you pay an annual fee and receive savings on dental services throughout the course of your membership. There are no paperwork hassles, claims to file, or pre-existing condition restrictions. You are paying for access to a network of dentists who offer reduced fees for a variety of procedures to plan members.
How do discount dental plans differ from dental insurance plans?
Discount dental plans are an affordable, easy-to-use and hassle-free solution for anyone looking for dental care savings. Below is a comparison guide between discount dental plans and dental insurance to help you make an informed decision.
DISCOUNT DENTAL SAVINGS PLAN Characteristics Include: ·
- No annual limits – plan members enjoy discounts on most dental care services all year long
- Most plans activate within 3 business days
- No tiresome paperwork hassles – plan members simply present their membership card at a participating dentist office for discounts on most dental services
- No health restrictions – there is no need to wait for comprehensive dental treatment plans
- Select plans include discounts on dental specialties, including cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics
- Consumers pay affordable membership fees for access to a network of dentists offering discounts on most dental procedures
- Available directly to individuals, families, businesses, and groups
DENTAL INSURANCE Characteristics Include:
- Limitations, deductibles, and annual maximums
- Waiting periods for major dental procedures
- Tedious and time-consuming written claims process
- Limitations/exclusions on pre-existing conditions
- Certain dental specialties, such as cosmetic dentistry, are rarely covered
- Consumers pay expensive monthly premiums for defined coverage
- Typically inaccessible to individuals and families unless provided by their employer
Even if you already have dental insurance, the discounts offered by Dental Plans discount dental plans may be used along with your dental insurance for even more savings on your dental care. Please consult with a participating dentist or dental care specialist before beginning treatment.
Can I use a dental savings plan with my current dental insurance?
Dental plans may also be used to reduce your out-of-pocket dental care costs once you’ve reached the annual maximum on your dental insurance plan. You cannot use your dental insurance and your dental savings plan for the same procedure, in accordance with insurance policy rules. Your dentist can, however, help you to coordinate treatment using both your savings and insurance plans.
Can I combine two dental plans for more savings?
Members cannot use two plans in the same office at the same time. However, you can purchase more than one discount plan from DentalPlans.com to use at separate offices. For example, if your orthodontist participates in the Aetna Dental Access Plan and your general dentist participates in the UNI-CARE 200 Discount Dental Plan, you can purchase both plans to use at the appropriate office.
Does having a pre-existing condition disqualify me from getting a dental plan?
No. Unlike dental insurance, dental savings plans enable people with pre-existing conditions to get affordable dental care.
What is a fee schedule?
Fee schedules are a list of set charges for various medical/dental procedures. Procedures are associated with a code (dentists use a “Dental Procedure” code, also known as an American Dental Association/ADA) CDT code. A fee schedule is primarily used for insurance reimbursement billing, and the ADA CDT code helps to identify the exact procedure/s in your treatment plan.
Is there a maximum cap on dental procedures with a dental savings plan—a limit on how much I can save each year?
No, there are no maximums to limit your savings with dental savings plans.
When can I start receiving discounts on dental work?
Your discount dental plan can be utilized the day of activation. Just show the participating dental provider your Member ID Card and they will honor the discounted rate according to the fee schedule of your plan.
If I get a dental plan, will it interfere with my Medicare?
No, as Medicare does not cover general dental care such as checkups, cleanings, fillings, or dentures. Medicare Advantage does cover some routine dental services, so check with your plan to see what dental services may be covered. You cannot use your dental insurance and your dental savings plan for the same procedure in accordance with insurance policy rules. Your dentist can, however, help you to coordinate treatment using both your savings and insurance plans. Our plans may also be used to reduce your out-of-pocket dental care costs once you’ve reached the annual maximum on your dental insurance plan.
Why should I join a discount dental plan on DentalPlans.com?
Discount dental plans can save you money on quality dental care while giving you the freedom to choose from more than 30 plans with more than 140,000 participating dentist listings in combined networks nationwide.
What is the DentalPlans.com toll free number and what are the hours of operation?
You can contact the Customer Service Department toll free at 888-632-5353 and the Member C.A.R.E. Department at 800-494-9294 Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 8:00 pm ET.
How can I compare dental plans on the DentalPlans.com website?
Enter your zip code in the search box. Look below the logo of each plan provider and you’ll see a “Compare” box. Check that box for up to 4 different plans, and you’ll be able to see what each plan offers. If you need assistance, contact the Dental Plans team at 1-888-632-5353.
How old must a member be to purchase a discount dental plan?
You must be at least 18 years or older to purchase a discount dental plan. However, there are no age maximums.
Do I have to file a claim after going to the dentist with a dental savings plan?
No. You simply pay the reduced fee at your dentist’s office, so there are no claims to file and no waiting for reimbursement.
First published: 3-18-20; Revised & Updated 6-4-23
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Everyday Cheapskate posts may include affiliate links to products and services, but only when they are relevant and helpful. Mary always offers her own honest and independent reviews and recommendations.