Save with a Discount Dental Plan
Posted by Sarah at 11:38 am in Health

Do you have dental insurance coverage through your employer? If so, count yourself among the lucky few. My job offers dental insurance at $45/month – which is outrageous considering that I usually only get one cleaning a year (or two if I’m being really good). If you’re feeling crunched like me, consider checking out a dental discount plan.

First of all, do you really need dental insurance? Short answer – yes. Think Mike Myers in the Austin Powers movies if you still aren’t convinced. Regular dental care can prevent some nasty problems later in life and may even help pick up on the warning signs of some serious diseases like diabetes or pregnancy complications. Do yourself a favor and schedule at least one complete cleaning and check-up each year.

If you don’t have affordable dental coverage through work, a dental discount plan is your best bet. Typically, you’ll pay a yearly subscription fee of $80-120 and then get access to dental services at a 10-60% discount. For example, Aetna offers a program that costs $99.95/year to join, but then you’ll pay $30 rather than $67 for an in-depth check-up, $54 rather than $104 for a set of full-mouth x-rays, and so on.

Here’s how to calculate whether a dental discount plan makes sense for you:

First, determine how often you visit the dentist and for what services. I budget myself for 2 complete cleanings each year.

Next, calculate how much you’ll spend with your employer’s coverage, a dental discount plan and no coverage at all. Here’s an example:

My employer’s coverage costs $45/month, plus a $15 co-pay on all visits. My total yearly cost (assuming two cleanings) to stay on my employer’s insurance is $570. Without insurance, each visit costs approximately $170, so my total yearly costs without insurance are around $340. On a dental discount plan, I’ll pay about $100/year, plus $75 for a complete cleaning, so my yearly cost is around $250.

Calculate your expenses for a couple different scenarios. What happens to my costs if I only want to have one cleaning a year? My employer-sponsored plan costs $545, no insurance will run me close to $170 and a discount plan will cost close to $175. If I want to go for the absolute cheapest possible care, I might forgo dental insurance entirely. However, if the costs are so close, I’d probably still choose the discount dental plan. That way my out-of-pocket expenses stay as low as possible, but I’ll still have some coverage in case I need an emergency root canal or other similarly scary procedure.

For me, it makes sense to choose the dental discount plan. However, it’s so important that you do your own calculations because your situation is probably different than mine. Are you absolutely set on sticking with your childhood dentist (not all dentists accept all plans)? Are you looking at having your wisdom teeth removed in the next year? Does your employer allow you to set aside money for medical expenses tax-free? Look at your situation from all angles before committing to a plan.

If you think a dental discount plan is right for you, I highly recommend you check out They’ve got one of the most complete selections of dental discount plans on the web and they’ve got tons of comparison tools and informational articles to help you pick the best plan. For even more information, check out “Dental Plans 101” – their beginners guide to choosing a dental discount plan.

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