More than half of Americans (nearly 130 million) go without dental coverage. For some it’s just too expensive. Others believe dental insurance doesn’t provide a great return on investment. But that tiny cavity can turn into serious health problems if left unattended. Yours truly has had so many root canals, one endodontist offered me a frequent-filler plan — no kidding. But there are some ways to save on dental care. Here are six money-saving tips:
1. Join a discount plan: There are more than 100,000 dentists across the country participating in discount dental plans — a low-cost alternative to dental insurance. You can find a local dentist by plugging in your zip code at DentalPlans.com, along with a selection of more than 30 plans that activate within three business days, have no annual limits and offer 10% to 60% off most procedures.
2. Pro-bono dentistry: Check out FreeDentalWork.org for listings on free dental clinic events in your area. You can also look for events through nonprofit organization Dentistry From The Heart — with dentists who donate their time and equipment to provide free dental treatment.
3. Watch for daily deals: Best known for discounts on lifestyle goods, sites such as Groupon and Living Social are starting to help people fill their insurance voids. About one of every 11 deals offered online is for a health care service. If you do take this route, be sure to do a little checking online to ensure the dentist is legit by searching for his or her name plus “complaints.”
4. Go to a dental school: Some dental schools provide services for significantly less than a dental practice. To find a school in your area, visit the American Dental Association.
5. Search for price breaks: If a nearby dental school is out of the question, check out the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and click on “Finding Dental Care” for dentists and programs that offer reduced price dental care.
6. Take a vacation: Need a vacation and some dental work done? Organizations such as Companion Global Healthcare specialize in booking dental trips to places such as Costa Rica and India for cheaper dental care outside of the United States.
7. Ask your dentist for a discount: Many medical professionals will give you a break if you pay in cash at the time of service.