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How to Save at the Dentist

3 min read

30 sec brief

Even if you have dental insurance, chances are taking care of your teeth takes a bite out of your cash flow. Many dental insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of routine exams, but then require you to cover 20% or so of common procedures such as basic fillings or a root canal, and may…

Even if you have dental insurance, chances are taking care of your teeth takes a bite out of your cash flow. Many dental insurance plans cover 100% of the cost of routine exams, but then require you to cover 20% or so of common procedures such as basic fillings or a root canal, and may slap a 50% copay on you for more involved procedures such as crowns.

And it’s common for dental insurance plans to limit your annual coverage to $1,500 or so. If you need some major work that’s going to leave you with a hefty out-of-pocket.

Rather than grind your teeth in frustration, consider these money-saving moves to reduce your dental costs.

Go to the dentist. Seriously. An ounce of prevention can save you big bucks. Regular cleanings and exams will help keep your teeth healthy, and potentially catch and brewing issues at an early stage. That’s always going to be cheaper than just waiting until you’ve got a full-blown, and painful, emergency situation.

Check Out Dental Plans. If you currently have dental insurance through work, or as an add on to health insurance you buy yourself, you should run the numbers to see if the cost and benefits of your dental insurance are as good as what you might be able to get if you dumped the insurance and signed up for a dental savings plan.

Unlike insurance, dental savings plans work more like a discount club membership. You pay an annual fee — it can range from $80 or so for individual coverage to more than $200 a year for a family plan — and then you are eligible for discounted work at participating dental practices that can save you 40% to 50% or more. There is no annual spending limit with a discount dental plan.

Check if your current dentist currently works with any dental plan. If not, you can search for local dentists that do at dentalplans.com.

Reduce your dental costs 15% to 25% or more with a Health Savings Account (HSA). The type of health insurance coverage you have could net you big savings on your dental costs. If you opt for a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) you are eligible to save money in an HSA. Money you contribute to your HSA account is tax deductible. Moreover, when you use the money in your account to pay for a qualified medical expense, there’s no tax due.

The tax breaks embedded in an HSA translate into giving yourself discounts for your medical care, including dental care.

For instance, if you are in the 25% federal tax bracket, using savings in your HSA to pay for your dental care out of pocket costs is essentially snagging a 25% discount on those expenses. Pairing an HSA with a dental discount plan could generate big savings that are bound to make you smile.

If you need more help with health account decisions, check out our blog. We will make you a healthcare benefits expert in no time, without any extra work or effort on your end.

Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.

Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.

About the author

Carla Fried

Carla translates business and personal finance concepts into engaging content that helps individuals make more confident choices in how they manage their money. Her work appears in The New York Times, Money Magazine, Barron's and Consumer Reports.

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