As a dentist, I strive to be a skilled surgeon. I also want to be a good businessperson who advocates for my patients by giving them as much value for their money as possible, while still making a fair living for myself and my family.
One way I can improve the outcome of dental care is by controlling all related costs, including setting my hourly fee (by far the largest cost for dental care) to be within the reach of regular people. I can achieve this without compromising quality of service or self-sacrifice. Another way I dramatically decrease my costs and pass those savings onto my patients is by purchasing quality materials in bulk. As the design and materials of a dental implant contain very little variation across many different manufacturers, it only makes sense for me to select the most affordable dental implants available with proven quality so I can reduce patient costs.
What does all this have to do with insurance? Plenty. When they come to see me, most of my patients have dental insurance and sometimes their dental insurance will actually provide some coverage for the cost of dental implants. No plan covers 100% of dental costs incurred, although some plans cover 50%. The yearly allowable maximums of all real dental insurance (not reduced for plans) usually will pay up to $1,500 per year, and rarely more than $2,000 per year.
For many patients who do not shop around for affordable dental implant care, it quickly becomes apparent that this coverage is not enough. With the average costs of placing a dental implant spanning to the several thousand dollar range, even “good” dental insurance coverage barely contributes enough to make a dent. Dental insurance plans have maximums that are prohibitive in terms of implant treatment; it’s how the insurance company saves themselves money.
Even with spreading treatment over a few years, which is a common way to help balance patient cost and dental insurance coverage, the final out-of-pocket costs are often still too astronomical to be within feasible reach for the average patient.
Besides the issue of low percentage of coverage, there are other issues with most dental insurance. Because of exclusions regarding treatment, sometimes there isn’t much coverage whatsoever. In my office. I charge low fees whether a patient has dental insurance or not. My fees are actually lower than the fee schedules that exist with insurance companies, making my treatment options the most affordable dental implant care by a wide margin.
My ultimate message to you about obtaining affordable dental implant care with your dental insurance is this: Inform yourself about your coverage, and don’t avoid shopping for affordable dental implant care. Instead, inform yourself about practitioner track record, education, and fees in conjunction with carefully shopping around for dental insurance coverage. These steps will help to ensure that you find a great fit for you and your wallet.
Ron Barbanell received his dental implant and periodontal training and education at UCLA, UCSF, Harvard, USC, and Loma Linda universities. It is his goal to restore comfort, function, and self-confidence in an affordable manner at any of his three locations in the Los Angeles, South Bay, and near Orange County area. He has practiced in each location for over 30 years, and has placed several thousand implants. He published useful articles on dental implant insurance [http://www.adhp.com/dental-implant-faqs/insurance-hype-and-dental-costs-are-you-covered]. http://www.adhp.com
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