Many Americans forgo dental insurance and dental care when money is tight. As we prepare for Obamacare’s key provisions to go into effect next year, we hear more and more rumblings about affordable dental plans. In reality, it seems dental plans are a drop in the budgetary bucket when stacked against other life expenses.
A new infographic from IHC Specialty Benefits shows that covering your teeth is an inexpensive investment compared to other everyday expenses. On average, individuals spend $165 a year for dental coverage. We spend $850 a year on soft drinks, which harm teeth and increases costs. Our annual spending for dining out averages $2,820.
Dental plans save money
Visiting the dentist every six months for a preventive exam and cleaning is the standard recommendation. Most standard dental insurance plans cover preventive services such as cleanings, exams, fluoride and even sealants. Diagnostic X-rays are also covered at 100 percent or slightly less at set intervals.
Without insurance, standard preventive visits may cost slightly less than $100 to as much as $300. A complete set of X-rays can tack on upwards of $100. Bracesinfo.com’s Dental Cost Calculator and Healthcarebluebook.com can help you determine average rates in your area.
Oral health important to overall health
Studies show that those with private dental insurance are more likely to visit the dentist than those who do not. Preventive care visits help identify problems early on, when they are most treatable and less expensive.
Additionally, oral health has a strong link to overall health. Gum disease has also been linked to premature birth and low birth weight, diabetes and other conditions. While one may not cause the other, the mouth can provide dentists with clues that something is wrong with your health.
How to buy dental insurance
Shop around. Know the difference between a dental discount plan and a dental insurance plan. Determine what oral health expenses you expect-do you have children who need orthodontia coverage, do you anticipate major dental work such as crowns or implants. Consider the cost of those services compared to what the plans you are looking for will cover and their annual premiums.
Consult a licensed insurance agent for information about plans available in your area. If you need help finding low-cost care, consider visiting a dental school or dental hygiene school. Programs such as CHIP, Medicare, and Medicaid also help low-income children, seniors and adults gain access to affordable dental services. Your local or state health department can also help guide you toward free and low-cost programs and services near you.
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