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“Buy-Up” Dental Insurance: A Little Extra Protection

October 13, 2020

Filed under: Blog,Patient Care — Tags: — Dr Peter Thompson @ 7:57 am

When it comes to dental insurance, it seems like there can be as many (or more) questions as there are answers. Even when you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, navigating its use can still be very confusing. Many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought – until the day comes when they need to use it.  Today, Dr. Peter Thompson at Peter L. Thompson, DDS would like to talk to you about an option not everyone knows about – “buy-up” dental insurance.

What is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance?

“Buy-up” dental insurance allows enrollees with group insurance to “buy-up” to more generous benefits by paying higher monthly premiums and receiving more comprehensive dental coverage in return. The differences between “regular” and “buy-up” dental coverages are easy to pinpoint when benefit summaries of the plans are viewed side by side: “buy-up” dental calendar year maximums are higher, annual deductibles are lower, and a percentage of more extensive restorations like bridges, crowns, dental implants, and sometimes even orthodontics are covered, while regular group dental insurance plans often provide little to coverage for these procedures. As with any other insurance plan, whether dental providers are in-network also factors into the level of coverage when considering “buy-up” dental.

Is “Buy-Up” Dental Insurance Worth the Added Cost?

When the only factor under consideration is economics, one recent study would likely call it a draw. The sample showed the average insured household spent $978 in out-of-pocket dental costs – including premiums – while the average uninsured household spent $1,007 – a mere $29 difference. If “buy-up” dental insurance becomes an option for you, the specific pros and cons of your individual and family situation will need to be weighed when you choose your insurance plan.  

If you are a weekend hockey player, have kids that need orthodontia, or just tend to be unlucky when it comes to your teeth, it’s hard to put a price tag on your peace of mind. Dental insurance can be a saving grace for those with unusually high dental expenses from serious financial hardship, and better-than-average coverage would only ease the burden. 

It may seem like a gamble to dig into your pockets and invest more money in a higher-priced dental plan when the extra coverage may never be needed. However, to reiterate – many people don’t give their dental insurance a second thought until the time comes when they NEED it – and when you need your dental insurance, you really need it. Some of the most expensive dental procedures are also the most unexpected and in many cases, they are true medical emergencies that require treatment. 

One way to think about “buy-up” dental insurance is to compare it to enhanced towing coverage for your vehicle, such as the type offered by AAA. You can pay one nominal annual fee that covers unlimited towing costs, so no matter where your vehicle breaks down within a certain geographical radius, there will be no additional cost to you for your car to be towed. If you carry this coverage, your vehicle may not break down during that coverage year and your benefits may never be used, but if your vehicle does break down and you do require towing, the annual premium price is about the same or less than one tow, and the coverage has paid for itself with just one use.

Dr. Peter Thompson and our team are always happy to discuss your insurance coverage, as well as your other financing options if you need additional help working dental care into your budget. Contact us anytime – we’d love to help!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Dental Insurance Trends

June 27, 2020

Filed under: Blog,Dental News — Tags: — Dr Peter Thompson @ 8:16 am

Above any other medical need, people are more likely to skip seeing the dentist because they can’t afford it.

Many people choose not to buy dental insurance because it’s an added cost without a lot of perceived value. For some reason, people simply feel more comfortable taking this risk because they don’t fully understand the consequences of oral health problems. But it’s a risk indeed. You can develop a facial or oral injury just as easily as any other injury and oral infections and diseases are just as common—if not more common—as any other.

Beyond the critical events of oral injury or infection, preventive dental care (aka your regular cleanings and check-ups) is crucial for catching problems before they become dangerous. Seeing the dentist regularly can help you address a surprising number of overall health and wellness issues.

Still, dentists understand that medical costs are rising, the world of insurance is often a mystery, and sometimes you’re just at a loss. Dr. Peter Thompson, Portales dentist explains more below about the current trends in dental insurance and what they mean for you.

Forgoing Dental Insurance

Of all the reasons adults avoid the dentist, 40% say it’s because of cost, followed closely by the 33%  who don’t think they need dental care. You can see where this is going—there’s almost no reason someone would pay for a service they think is expensive and unnecessary.

A lot of people seek dental treatments without dental insurance to help cover it. In 2013, the numbers ranged from 12% of children to 61% of senior citizens. Insurance may seem like a luxury but when you need it, it becomes essential. If you can make any changes to your monthly budget to allow room for dental insurance, it might be one of the best ways you take care of yourself and your family. No one wants to be stuck with a cracked tooth, gum infection, or jaw pain while also wondering how you’re going to pay for treatment.

Children’s Dental Insurance

Government-mandated insurance through the Affordable Care Act does not include dental coverage, except in the case of children. This is for good reason—children are vulnerable and they’re growing at such a fast rate. Catching a health problem and treating it promptly is essential for a lifetime of health and wellness.

It’s also important that children develop good oral health habits early that they’ll stick to the rest of their life. Search HealthCare.Gov, or talk with a caseworker if you have one, to learn about your options for enrolling children in free or discounted dental insurance.

Increased PPOs & Decreasing Payments

PPO plans (Preferred Provider Organization), which are more expensive, are becoming far and away more popular, making up 80% of all dental plans. But dental insurance plans are actually paying dentists slightly less per patient than they have in the past.

Consumerism

With or without dental insurance, more people are shopping around for the best rate before making a dental appointment. Following the recession, people care more than ever about understanding what they are paying for when they buy any goods or services.

Dental Plans Need to Stay Current

Research shows that, over time, dental insurance is actually the best “bang for your buck.” To help patients get even more out of their dental coverage, some plans are offering a rollover of funds if you don’t use all of your yearly benefits. Some plans allow for important preventative and diagnostic services without it going against yearly maximums.

Flexible Payment Plans

Your dentist wants you to be healthy and will do whatever we can to increase your access to good oral health care. If you’re avoiding dental treatment because you don’t have insurance and/or you’re afraid of the cost, talk honestly with your Portales dentist. Dentists are humans, too, and we understand life circumstances especially in regards to health and finances.

Some flexible payment options we can discuss together are:

  • Discounted services for paying upfront, before the treatment
  • Interest-free payment plans
  • Splitting up the treatment over time (when appropriate) so you don’t have to pay for it all at once
  • Cheaper alternatives: many dental procedures have cheaper (though sometimes less desirable) ways of treating a problem. Your doctor can tell you what the most affordable route of treatment is.

If you need dental care, whether you have insurance or not, come see us at Peter L. Thompson, DDS. We’re a contemporary practice that can meet you where you are and offer caring, professional services. Make an appointment today!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.