Dental Savings Plans 

Today, most people who visit the doctor—whether it’s for a routine checkup or a major procedure—expect that their health insurance will pick up a big part of the tab. Many receive coverage through an employer, a state plan, or via Medicare. But when it comes to seeing the dentist, the story is far different. Over a quarter of Americans lack any type of dental coverage; and a recent poll conducted by Johns Hopkins University found that just 12 percent of older Americans have dental insurance, in part because Medicare benefits don’t extend to dental coverage. 

What’s more, people who have dental insurance often find that it doesn’t function the same way as medical insurance. For example, dental coverage frequently involves an annual cap on benefits, limited or no reimbursements for some treatments, and long waiting periods for certain procedures. While it may be better than no insurance at all, dental insurance often doesn’t work the way we expect it to. 

But there’s an alternative to dental insurance that has been gaining ground lately—dental savings plans. These plans operate on the “warehouse price club” (Costco or Sam’s Club) model: Participants pay a periodic membership fee, and in turn receive discounts on dental treatments from dentists who participate in the plan. Depending on what services are needed and the price tag for membership, dental plans have the potential to offer substantial savings on dental costs. 

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