Discount Dental Plans and Affordable Dental Care

Healthy teeth and gums play a fundamental role in our overall health. Regrettably, rising dental insurance premiums and treatment costs have made dental care inaccessible to many people across the nation. Today, there are more than 108 million children and adults without dental insurance in the U.S. As the need for affordable dental care continues to grow, more and more people turn toward discount dental plans as a cost-effective and easy-to-use alternative to dental insurance.

Current research shows a clear shift in the dental benefits marketplace attributed, in part, to concerns with cost, choice and service. Many consumers and employers are moving away from the inflated premiums, strict restrictions, poor service and other limitations often associated with traditional dental insurance and are looking toward the savings and benefits offered by discount dental plans. “With an estimated 45% of Americans not having any type of dental coverage, and the dental insurance marketplace offering few, affordable dental products for individuals, discount dental plans are an attractive answer to the need to reduce consumer out-of-pocket costs and increase access to care.”

Discount dental plans provide consumers with the value they desire by offering access to affordable, quality dental care at a low price and with an emphasis on choice and service. Plan members pay a low annual membership fee and are granted access to a network of participating providers offering discounts of 10% to 60% on most dental procedures, including braces, root canals, crowns, dentures, cosmetic dentistry and more on select plans. Certain plans even include discounts on additional benefits, including prescription, vision, hearing and chiropractic care.

Discount dental plans, designed to provide significant savings on members’ dental care needs, have quickly become an attractive alternative to costly dental insurance. Traditional dental insurance, once the only dental benefit option available, features many drawbacks including costly deductibles, tedious claim forms, long waiting periods and other limitations. On the other hand, discount dental plans are more cost-effective, easy-to-use and free of these hassles.

Additionally, discount dental plans – starting at $79.95 per year for individuals and $129.95 per year for families – are much more affordable than dental insurance. According to a 2005 report by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), a trusted representative of the dental benefits industry, the average monthly premium for individual dental HMO insurance is nearly $16 (about $192 per year), compared to nearly $24 (about $288 per year) for individual dental PPO insurance and nearly $31 (about $372 per year) for individual dental indemnity insurance. According to NADP, “Discount dental plans have become an economical and important alternative to combat the rising cost of health care. They are a cost-effective vehicle for millions of undeserved consumers to improve their access to dental care.”

Discount dental plans also provide businesses and other groups with dental benefits that are easy to implement and practically effortless to manage. Many businesses are using discount dental plans to offer dental benefits to people that are rarely covered by traditional dental insurance, including retirees, part-timers, seasonal workers and uninsured dependents. Businesses can protect their employees’ health and provide peace of mind by encouraging their team to join a money-saving discount dental plan.

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Tips For Affordable Dental Care For Children, Students, Families & Seniors

Staying current with dental care cleanings and treatments is important – regardless of your age.

In today’s economy, however, some look at preventive dental care treatments as an extra cost that can be cut. Unfortunately, doing this tends to only lead to more painful situations – for both your teeth and your pocket book.

First, we’ll explore the challenges of paying for dental care for each age group, including children, students, newlyweds and seniors. Then, we’ll provide a solution that can help make dental care more affordable at any age.

Dental Care Budgeting Challenges for Each Age Group

Children from Kindergarten to 12th Grade

For families on limited budgets, or families just temporarily hurting from the tough economy, preventive visits to the dentist may get lost in the budget cuts.

This is unfortunate, because dental disease currently accounts for 51 million lost school hours per year, and it is preventable in most cases.

Many parents share the misconception that dental care can be postponed until their children’s baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth. But on the contrary, dental health issues from childhood often transfer to adult teeth.

A simple way to reduce the chances of lifetime dental health issues for your children is to take them to the dentist twice a year for preventive checkups and cleanings – in order to catch and fix problems in early stages.

College Students

While many students operate on a shoe-string budget during these years, it’s still important to keep dental care cleanings and treatments current.

Doing this, however, becomes trickier as access to family dental insurance plans waivers based on age and student status limitations.

In situations where students do not have dental insurance, it’s easy to see treatments and checkups as auxiliary costs that can be temporarily dropped. With an already limited budget and no assistance with dental care costs, a root canal or other major dental procedure can become a very painful and expensive experience for a college student.

Just Married

For those who get married in their 20s or 30s, other major purchases may take away from the health care budget.

Buying a house, getting a new car or even making room in the budget for future additions to the family make it tempting to lengthen the time between dental checkups and cleanings.

However, just as with other age groups, postponing preventive checkups and cleanings can lead to much bigger problems down the road – especially when the dental care budget has already been reallocated for other expenses.

Golden Years

Many seniors find themselves on a fixed income and unfortunately, with age, the risk for dental problems increases.

A study conducted in New York showed that among seniors, 15% listed cost as the main barrier to accessing the dental care they need. For the other 85%, transportation was the leading barrier, which in many cases may tie indirectly to financial problems.

Seniors have a 300% greater chance to develop cavities than children and about 30% of all seniors lose their natural teeth. With statistics like these, it is easy to see why it’s so important for seniors to maintain regular dental checkups and cleanings.

A Dental Care Solution for Any Age Group

All too often, when people of any age group find themselves lacking either medical or dental insurance, they go into “wait until something happens” mode. And this can be a very costly mistake.

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Finding Free Or Low Cost Dental Care Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult

he need for low-cost or free dental care will increase. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), eight out of ten people believe that taking care of their teeth and gums is a necessity, but only one-third of them say they are doing an excellent job with it.

Because of the recession there are millions of people who are uninsured and can’t afford to see the dentist. Additionally, state funded facilities are finding out that they have to decrease their services or even close because the funding is not there. The needs of the people are placing a strain on the state’s budget.

The important thing is not to panic. When having to go without services that you’ve been accustomed to receiving it can render a feeling of helplessness. Fortunately, we live in a country where there are alternative resources available where you can receive assistance. The real issue becomes how you can afford what is being offered or how to find someone that will offer their services to you for free.

There are some nonprofit organizations and resources who have taken the initiative to fill the gap left by budget cuts and closings for those in need. Unfortunately, the number of people needing assistance far out numbers the available resources.

Many physicians and dentists volunteering around the country to provide dental care to the unemployed, college students and the uninsured as a way to give back to the community. Included in this article are organizations you can search online and contact them for state and nation wide information for volunteers in your area to service your dental needs for a low cost or for free.

Local dental schools: a dental school in your area will often provide dental services for a very low cost and possibly a payment plan option. A dental school is an excellent way to go if you are on a tight budget. Skilled instructors are on hand to oversee the work of the students. For a listing of dental schools around the country, visit the ADA.org website.

Dentistry from the Heart was started to address and publicize the growing number of the uninsured and under-insured people in this country. It became a national nonprofit organization in 2007, with free dental care events all over the country. Since 2001, more than $1 million in free dental care has been provided.

The Dental Health Magazine helps locate free and affordable dental care to those who need it. The site also discusses the latest information in dental products and services.

American Dental Association (ADA.org): search site for free dental care. It will provide several organizations that provide dental care nationwide, but appears to promote programs geared towards children. The ADA is committed to reducing these disparities by supporting initiatives that broaden access to dental care for people who otherwise cannot afford it and encourage more dentists to practice in designated under served areas.

Free Medical Camps.com: provides clients the most recent and up to date information about free Medical and Dental Clinics available in the United States.

Low cost dental plans: Provide discount dental care plans that are affordable with great discount rates for dental care for you and your family. Most plans do not penalize you if you have a preexisting condition. The plan can be activated within 48 hours without long waiting periods. Additional benefits that may be included in the plan are discounts on prescriptions, vision care and more.

It is imperative that you have Internet access because most of these resources are found online. Some of them do not make the evening paper or news. Rather, you may find out about the mobile dental services by networking at clinics or other places that provide assistance for those in need. What’s important is that you don’t give up if you are not able to accomplish obtaining the care you need. Stay positive, focused and proactive in getting the care you need.

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