When you don’t have dental insurance


By Heather Larson, Next avenue Donor

As you age, your teeth become more susceptible to fractures and have a higher risk of cavities. Over time, old fillings weaken your teeth. Now is not a good time to put your dental health on the back burner, says Dr Robert S. Minch, dentist in private practice in Lutherville, Maryland.

And yet, many people in their 50s and 60s also do not have dental insurance because they are self employed, work part-time or are retired. Medicare does not cover most dental care, such as cleanings, fillings, tooth extractions, dentures, dental plaques or other dental appliances; Part A only pays for certain dental services that you might get if you are hospitalized.

(FOLLOWING: How to keep your teeth for life)

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes dental insurance for children one of the 10 essential health benefits required, but there is no requirement for dental insurance for adults, says Don Silver, author of The Best ObamaCare Guide. So no help there.

While dental coverage for adults isn’t mandatory, you can buy it in any state except Washington if you also purchase a medical plan through the ACA, says Jeff Album, vice president, Public and Government Affairs, Delta Dental of CA, NY, PA and Affiliates.

Album also encourages people without dental coverage to consider options that they might not have considered. “AARP sells dental insurance to people over 50, Costco offers it to its executive members, Tricare Retiree Dental Plan is for veterans and those who have worked in the military, the Veteran’s Administration has a plan and Ehealthinsurance.com may be an option for some, ”he says.

If none of these routes work, you still have a variety of options for getting good dental care at a reasonable cost:

1. Look for a dentist with a payment plan. Many dentists offer a payment method that replaces insurance. You pay an annual fee, usually over time, with no funding and no interest.

(FOLLOWING: 6 Ways to Negotiate Lower Doctor Bills)

Dr John Addison, a private practice dentist in Miami, Florida, provides affordable dental care to his patients through a company called Quality dental plans (PDQ).

“QDP eliminates the man in the middle [insurance] and creates savings for patients directly and immediately, ”says Addison. “There is no minimum, no co-payment, no procedures that are not covered and no denial of coverage.”

For an annual individual subscription of $ 299, Addison’s patients receive the following free of charge each year: two cleanings, one full exam, one set of x-rays, one teeth whitening, and 20% off most other dental services. .

Great Expressions Dental Centers, with more than 200 locations in nine states, has its own payment plan for the uninsured. A person pays $ 59 per year and receives a free annual exam and a series of x-rays, plus 35% off dental care. You can use the blanket as often as needed without limits.

If you can’t find a local dentist with an affordable payment plan, look for pro bono services.

2. Participate in a charity event. Members of the national non-profit organization, the Group dental practice association (DGPA), like the Great Expressions Dental Centers, are committed to helping the communities in which they work by organizing free service days. Although DGPA members operate for-profit businesses, they also volunteer their time to help underinsured people in their area.

“For example, Pacific Dental Services“Smile Generation’s annual Serve Day generates over $ 1.5 million in pro bono dental care,” said Quinn Dufurrena, executive director of APD in Denver, Colo.

Collectively, APD members provide millions of dollars in free care each year to patients at home and abroad, through activities ranging from mobile dental clinics to free weekend office visits. The 30 members of the DGPA participate in volunteering. For example: Heartland Free Dentistry Day enables dentists to provide free care to more than 3,000 patients in need each year, explains Dufurrena.

You can also search for events offering free or low cost dental care at Heart dentistry, American Dental Foundation or on the website of the dental association for your state.

3. Go to a dental school. The National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research says dental schools provide good quality dental care at low cost. Most have clinics where students get experience treating patients while knowledgeable and licensed dentists oversee their work. You can find a list of accredited dental training programs on the American Dental Association website.

Minch, who teaches at a dental school, says to keep in mind that when students have every phase of their work checked by a supervising dentist, you will be spending more time in the dental chair than if you visited a dentist in private practice. or a retail group. clinical.

4. Chain clinics may not be the answer. Retail dental outlets like Bright Now Dental, Dental Coast, Soft Dental and others at first glance may seem like a good choice for those without dental insurance. They often wave banners or have large posters on the windows proclaiming free cleanings and exams. Addison, who worked at Coast Dental for almost two years, says the opposite is true.

“These types of retail clinics provide low cost services to insured people,” Addison explains. “The advantage they offer is that they can work with multiple insurance plans, while some dentists can only take care of patients insured by a few major carriers. “

5. Take preventative measures. To reduce the number of dental visits you need, Dr Joseph Banker, a cosmetic dentist in Westfield, NJ, suggests increasing your oral care routine.

Regular brushing (at least twice a day for two to three minutes) and flossing at least once a day can control plaque and bacteria, decrease inflammation of the gums, and protect teeth from caries. By using a water flosser, you streamline this task.

An electric toothbrush gives you better cleaning, and when brushed along the tongue as well as the teeth, it prevents bacteria from building up on the tongue, Banker explains.

Rinsing your mouth with antibacterial mouthwash in the morning, he says, and fluoridated mouthwash at night also helps prevent cavities.

Dental care for those in their 40s, Addison says, is just as crucial as it was in childhood, as teeth are vulnerable at both stages of life.


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