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Aethelwine's avatar

Where do you find affordable dental insurance when your employer does not provide the option?

Asked by Aethelwine (41240points) August 7th, 2014

I have a ten year old daughter who will need braces in a year and an adult son who needs his wisdom teeth pulled soon. We do not have employer provided dental insurance and we do not qualify for state assistance.

What are our best options? I’ve searched for hours and it’s making me dizzy. I need affordable dental insurance yesterday.

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17 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Dental insurance is terrible in the US.

If your employer has a cafeteria plan, get in on that. Your contributions are not taxed, and you spend it on medical/dental expenses. Effectively you get a huge discount on medical spending.

That won’t help you this year, though.

anniereborn's avatar

I have ridden in this same boat. (as an adult, not for any children). It is a tough one to row.
If there is a college near you with a dental school they often do good work at a deep discount.
I don’t know if you yourself went to college, but where I did they have a fairly decent dental insurance plan for alumnus. (you can get family coverage too).

pleiades's avatar

The good news is… perhaps you could open up a line of credit specifically for your dental costs? I looked for dentists around my area and Yelped “affordable dentists.” Yelp is nice because of the reviews plus search engine.

Also most dentist places allow for monthly payment options so it won’t be 3000$ out of pocket for the braces or 400$ for the wisdom pulling.

(I highly recommend your son brush 3 times a day after each meal, and to swish mouth after snacks, avoid extremely sugary processed foods or just anything that gets stuck in teeth. I recently dealt with an infection on a wisdom tooth that is coming out and I cleaned the damn thing for a week and eventually my body got rid of the infection. And that side of the mouth feels extremely durable and I can eat food with ease on that side. So far so good, but if your sons wisdom teeth are hurting him like hell, I’d go the monthly payment route)

Good Luck!

anniereborn's avatar

You’ve likely already have come across Care Credit to help out with payments. But if not, there ya go.

AshlynM's avatar

Ask around different dental offices if they have monthly payment options.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think any dental plans cover braces, do they?

As far as pulling teeth, I am not sure, but overall dental insurance sucks. My aunt pays $150 a year and that supposedly sets the price for some of the work she has done, but I have my doubts about the plan. I think she probably could get the same prices without it. I pay out hundreds of dollars for her dental work. I can try to find out from her what plan she uses, I don’t remember. Since you say pulled, I am going to assume the teeth are already out? That should not be widely expensive I would think. If they are below the gums still, that is a whole different matter.

If you have a favorite dentist I would talk to the billing person and ask her to recommend a few companies, or ask the type of deal you can get if you self pay.

Also, if there is a dental school near you they probably provide free dental care, but then your kids will be the patients they practice on. It is all supervised of course. Often, using a teaching school means you have to go into the dentist multiple times when a regular dentist could do it in one shot, so it takes some patience. What I don’t know for sure is if they allow children to be the guinea pigs.

Pachy's avatar

I, too, no longer have a company plan, and having also done a lot of research last year wound up with what I consider a very reasonably priced plan. The coverage certainly isn’t as good as my old plan and it might not cover everything you need, but it’s worth checking out. If you’re interested, I’ll PM you the info.

jca's avatar

I used a dental school (Columbia Dental School which is probably one of the best in the country) for my first two dental implants, and the implants have been flawless, and it was probably half of what it would have cost otherwise. The downside is that it does take a few extra visits. The upside is you’re getting the latest technology and methods. The students are not like 20 year olds just out of high school. They’ve graduated from dental school and are now working on their specialty, they’re very professional and any work like surgery is done with the professor surgeon in the room, helping and supervising. It’s not like if you went to a haircutting school and you were the first person ever to receive a hair cut from this student. It’s nothing like that at all.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Good ideas above. Did you check with your county to see if there’s another option?

jca's avatar

Check County Medical Center if there is one.

hearkat's avatar

When my son went through braces, I did have some coverage and the orthodontist did their own payment plan. Most health care providers wont deal with that collections nightmare anymore, which is why CareCredit and similar plans came about.

We offer CareCredit our practice, and many dental, eye care, hearing care, and veterinary practices offer such plans. The way they operate is that they charge the health care providers a percentage, and they are very strict on their rules—you have to pay on time and be paid in full on time – there are no grace periods or writeoffs – if you are late with a payment or exceed the payout terms by minutes, you are slammed with excessively high interest rates that they’ve accrued since the beginning.

I recall that Dental was one of the things addressed by the Affordable Care Act – but since orthodontics are considered cosmetic, I’m not sure if any of the marketplace plans include it, but it’s worth taking a look.

stanleybmanly's avatar

You’re pretty much screwed. Does anyone else here ever wonder how it came to be that teeth managed to be excluded from “health care” unless and until they are allowed to rot til their owners are threatened with certain death? It’s depressing, but just another big visible turd smeared across the surface of a ridiculously obtuse health care machine.

Aethelwine's avatar

Some good suggestions here. Thanks everyone. I applied for Care Credit but was denied. (My husband and I just finished paying off a Chapter 13 bankruptcy last year.) We could easily come up with a small monthly payment if someone would give us that option, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen right now.

The closest dental school is 65 miles from where we live. That could be an option for us if it will save us money.

Our county had a dental clinic for Medicaid and low income families, but they closed their doors due to lack of funding last year. I could try a neighboring county to see if they will help us. We’re not considered low income now, but there’s no way we can come up with the fees in one payment.

@JLeslie Since you say pulled, I am going to assume the teeth are already out? His teeth have erupted and need to be extracted. One was causing terrible pain that eventually went away. Our dentist said that it had been infected, that’s why it hurt, but the infection is now gone.

Please send me that pm @Pachy. Thank you.

kritiper's avatar

Ask your general health care provider, or seek assistance from your local health insurance marketplace.

trailsillustrated's avatar

< is a dentist: an option: low cost clinics that are in every city. These are great for extractions, the dentists are gp’s but have a high degree of surgical skill because that’s all they do, since extraction is cheaper than restoration.

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stanleybmanly's avatar

Nice work! Even if it is pure unadulterated spam. This is worth looking at,

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