Cost is cited as the number one reason why consumers delay dental care. But did you know that you can score a discount at the dentist, without even having insurance? It's something most people weren't aware of, until now.
For self-employed father of three Steve Less, the price of traditional dental insurance was tough to swallow.
"The cost was excessive on a monthly basis and it just didn'twhen you added it up, it just didn't make any sense," said DentalPlans member Steve Less.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, 97% of dental insurance benefits are offered through employers.
For the self-employed and unemployed, that leaves few options.
Now, a growing number of consumers are eating up info on discount dental plans.
"With the economic downturn, discount dental plans are one of the only products that have been available to individuals to purchase on their own," said Evelyn Ireland with the National Association of Dental Plans.
They're marketing directly to you on sites like DentalPlans.com, Brighter.com, and Dentalsave.com, and operate similar to warehouse clubs.
You pay a yearly membership, typically between $75 and $200.
"The dental plan negotiates the discounts with the dentist, but the dentist gets the full fee, or their payment at the negotiated discounted rate, from the consumer at the time of service," said Ireland.
That discount rate can range anywhere from 10% to 60%.
Jenn Stoll is with DentalPlans, which lets you compare the cost of more than 30 different dental savings plans.
"Dental savings plans allow people to save on typical procedures such as cleanings and X-Rays, root canals, crowns, and even dental implants," said Stoll.
Many also offer discounts on cosmetic procedures and orthodontics, after Less was quoted around $6,000 for his son's braces.
"Through DentalPlans.com we actually hooked up with a terrific orthodontist. It came in with a little under $3000," said Less.
Is a discount dental plan for you? Think about the coverage you need. Plus, there are no co-pays, deductibles or annual limits.
"It's important to note that only about 3% of the population that has dental benefits reaches the annual maximum," said Ireland.
Also, understand that savings vary considerably.
"By plan, by network, by dentist, by procedure and even by zip code," said Stoll.
So call your dentist beforehand to confirm prices. Between oral exams and braces, Less feels like he really cleaned up.
"The plan's paid for itself, you know, I'd do it again in a heartbeat," said Less.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 65% of the dentists that are in active private practice participate in discount dental plans.