Have you had the experience of going to the dentist, getting a treatment plan put together, and then feeling a bit shocked by the price that you'll need to pay? There are no two ways about it: Dental care can be expensive. When you see your treatment plan with the numbers all added up, you might feel somewhat overwhelmed. The good news is that most of the time, you won't need to come up with the entire amount up front. In some cases, you might even be able to reduce the amount you'll have to pay altogether. Read on for some tips on how to talk to your dentist about your dental budget and how you can make the most of it.
Ask About Your Insurance Benefits
Sometimes dental insurance benefits can be difficult to understand. One reason is because they are all very different: One plan might charge a deductible for routine work like cleanings, while another might only charge a deductible for restorative work, and a third might not have any deductible at all! Many plans have a calendar year maximum, but some have no maximum and others might begin and end their fiscal years at times other than January 1.
Your dental office insurance coordinator can help you understand your plan. He or she can talk to you about when your benefits for the year end, what percentage of each procedure should be paid, and whether any of the procedures require pre-authorization. You might be able to have some of your work done under the current year's maximum and have the rest done during the next year, depending on when the year begins and ends for your plan.
Ask For a Tiered Treatment Plan
While your dentist might give you a list of all of the procedures you need to have done, you might not know which procedures, if any, are most urgent. Anything that is causing you pain or an infection needs to be taken care of first, of course. Some of the procedures might be cosmetic, and others might not need to be done right away. Don't be afraid to ask for a tiered treatment plan that lays out all of the procedures in terms of urgency. This can help you maximize your dental budget by splitting up the work (and the cost) into manageable chunks over several months.
Ask For Alternatives
If the cost for a procedure is more than you can afford, ask your dentist whether there's an alternative that might cost less money. For example, a tooth that has root canal treatment almost always needs a crown. If you have the tooth extracted, however, you might find that adding a false tooth to a bridge that you'll be having anyway is an acceptable alternative that costs less. It's almost always better to keep your natural teeth if possible, but if it's not possible, then your dentist can help you determine which procedures might be optional.
Find Out About Payment Plans
Some dentists offer payment plans that will draft a certain dollar amount out of your checking account or credit card account each month. Others do not offer in-house financing but will accept dental credit cards, such as CareCredit. Still others give a discount to patients who pay cash or who purchase a membership in a dental discount program. If you have expensive work that needs to be done, these are all good options to check into.
If you are having trouble affording your dental work, don't be embarrassed. Your dentist wants to help you have a healthy, happy smile. Talk to him or her, as well as the front office staff, about ways that you can maximize your dental budget without compromising your oral health. For more information, contact companies like Ramtown Dental Associates.