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The Death of Dental Insurance: 1800Dentist.com

For thousands of years, humans have relied on insurance to minimize their financial losses due to health issues, car accidents and fires. Dental insurance is just one small niche in the massive billion-dollar industry and if policy providers do not get with the program, the type of dental coverage may no longer be a valid option for consumers seeking dental care.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that approximately 45 million Americans do not have dental insurance coverage. According to 1800Dentist.com, "What makes this statistic...especially troubling is the fact that enrollment in a dental plan is the leading indicator of your ability to access dental care," (http://www.1800dentist.com/dental-health-news/no-dental-insurance).

The double edge sword is twice as deadly as 30 percent of individuals with dental insurance skipped going to the dentist in 2009 to save money (2009 Harris Interactive/HealthDay Poll). The reason is that the costs of the dental coverage nearly equal the maximum amounts of benefits paid. Unless the industry revamps its pricing structure individual dental insurance may become as outdated as print media and video stores.

Nuances of Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is a type of dental coverage specifically designed to make preventative dentistry treatment costs for regular dentist visits and dental cleanings more manageable. Estimates suggest that for every $1 invested into preventative dental care in order to reduce the odds of tooth decay and gum disease can result in savings on restorative dental care ranging from $8 to $50 . Dental insurance is specifically constructed to provide additional muscle to patients who already handle their oral hygiene with due diligence. In order to manage program expenses, insurers have drawn a line in the sand and are less than helpful in offsetting the costs of expensive dental treatments such as dental implants, dental surgeries and cosmetic dentistry as compared to the past.

In order to increase profit margins, a majority of dental insurance policy providers have raised the premium costs without increasing the maximum benefits they will pay. The trend is apparent in both individual dental insurance and coverage provided as an employee benefit. As a result, many industry experts are no longer recommending opting into dental insurance coverage and instead, suggest practicing exceptional dental care at home and paying for dentist clinic visits out of pocket.

WorldDental.com just analyzed the payment versus benefits of the average dental policy. According to the source "...a typical dental policy will offer an annual maximum benefit of $1,350, it will offer 100% coverage for preventative care and diagnosis, 80% for maintenance and cleanings, 50% for basic restorative care (like fillings), 50% for oral surgery (like extractions) and root canal treatments, and 0% for cosmetic dentistry procedures," (http://worldental.org/dental-insurance/dental-insurance-worth-money/5012/). According to those numbers, consumers have to pay approximately $600 for the the coverage and despite the protection, may still experience long wait times of up to a year for the coverage to be in effect for specific dental care procedures.


Dental Insurance Cut From Employee Benefits

Within corporate America, benefits have constantly been used as a tool to attract, hire and retain the best talent in the field. For decades, health insurance with dental coverage was considered the standard. However, the economic recession of 2009, forced employers to find a way to trim the fat from their budget resulting in 12.7 of companies reducing health related benefits including dental insurance (http://www.usatoday.com/money/workplace/2009-04-06-employers-cut-worker-benefits_N.htm). Chances are individuals who are lucky enough to still have the perk are seeing greater paycheck reductions to foot more of the bill.

Fidelity Investments' Consulting Services estimates that employee health coverage benefits can cost employers $5,000 to $15,000 per employee annually. Of those numbers, industry insiders suggest that dental care only comprises around 4 percent of employer benefit budgets. Depending on the type of coverage offered, that can result in an employer spending $200 to $600 for dental care per staff member.

Employees with dental coverage should brace themselves as the Society for Human Resource Management suggests that employers are looking to cut back their investment into dental insurance. ources indicate that 25 percent of companies plan to pass the cost burden onto their hires.

Preventative Dentistry to the Rescue

Studies from 1989 have indicated that consumers with private dental insurance coverage visit the dentist more frequently than those without the dental coverage (www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/series/sr_10/sr10_183.pdf). Since the type of tooth protection no longer appears to be cost effective, individuals are strongly advised to invest both the time and effort into preventative dentistry such as brushing, flossing, exercising, eating a healthy diet, drinking fresh water and seeing a dentist at least twice a year. The dental health behaviors are nothing new, as dental insurance coverage was initially designed to back up a self-care regimen.

Instead of paying for the costly dental insurance, individuals have other options to minimize the expenses. Some no dental insurance options include saving for the expense using a health savings account, volunteering to take part in a dental clinical trial, getting dental care at a dental school or via a free clinic, applying for government assistance or relying on a payment plan to make the restitution more manageable.

For the latter, one option is CareCredit; a type of credit account specifically designed for the medical industry. Individuals can also talk directly to their dental provider about a direct payment schedule. Individuals looking to find a dentist open to the suggestion should contact 1-800-DENTIST for more information. We have already conducted all the research regarding dentist payment options so you don't have to.

 
 
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