There’s no doubt about it: dental treatment can be a costly item indeed. The high-tech equipment and highly skilled professionals involved in your care often come along with a hefty price tag. Even people who are covered by dental insurance may be subject to high deductibles and co-pays, and limits on the total cost for certain procedures. Yet high-quality dental care—whether it’s needed to restore a damaged tooth or to help you get the smile you’ve always wanted—can truly have a positive impact on your life.
How can you get access to the care you need, and still keep it from overloading your budget? There are several different methods people commonly use to pay for dental treatment. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of a few of them.
Before buying a car, a savvy consumer might call several dealers for a price quote. You could do the same thing before a dental procedure—or you could join a dental savings plan. Like a wholesale club, a dental savings plan charges a yearly membership fee, and then gives members discounted rates at a number of dental providers. Members can save from 10 to 60% on many common procedures, such as tooth whitening, crowns and fillings.
Like insurance, you need to sign up first (though registration can be processed quickly). But unlike insurance, there are no pre-approvals, no limits, and no paperwork: you simply pay the provider’s reduced fee at the time of service. More than 40 different savings plans are available at DentalPlans™, providing access to more than 100,000 dentists nationwide.
Pro: Discounted fees available to members reduce the overall cost of dental care
Con: Must pay the provider at the time of service—but you can use one of the options below
Healthcare Installment Loans
This type of loan is similar to financing a car: You borrow a set amount, at a certain rate of interest (fixed or variable), for a specified period of time. It’s often possible to arrive at monthly payments that fit into your budget. Installment loans tend to have lower interest rates than some other loan types, and their terms are generally easy to understand. Many banks and finance companies offer these loans.
Pro: Easily defined terms, payments usually fixed for a period of time
Con: Must get loan approval well in advance of dental work
Many people have access to a credit card, and they are often accepted by dentists. When you need treatment right away, the plastic cards are the most convenient way to pay. But interest rates can be double-digit high, and penalties for late payments are often steep. It may be possible to transfer a big balance from one credit card to another, to take advantage of a low promotional rate. However, be sure to read the fine print: The low rate may expire after a certain time—or immediately, if you miss a single payment. The same goes for credit cards marketed for healthcare expenses, which may have hard-to-understand cardholder agreements.
Con: Potentially high interest rates and fees
Home Equity Loans and Lines of Credit
If you own a home, you may be able to take advantage of low interest rates available via home equity loans or credit lines. Both use your equity in the home as collateral for the loan—but while a home equity loan has fixed terms (like an auto loan), a line of credit is more flexible: It allows you to borrow more money, up to your credit limit. Home equity loans have traditionally offered among the lowest interest rates, but there’s a catch: The debt is secured (collateralized) by your home. If you don’t pay, the bank can take it.
Pro: Interest rates are usually low
Con: Foreclosure is possible if you stop making payments
Whether you’re having long-planned cosmetic work done—or getting treatment for an urgent dental problem—it helps to have a plan for financing dental care. If you’d like more information about the savings offered by DentalPlans™, please call 1-800-238-5163.