You should check in with your dentist for teeth cleaning at least twice a year. As you get older, you can expect to need some off-cycle visits as well that go beyond teeth cleaning. After all, your teeth age just like you do. But how do you pay for dental work when the procedures start to add up? Fortunately, there are many solutions to your dental woes, from dental financing to working out payment plans with your dental office. Here are a few suggestions for payment when it comes to various dental procedures.
If you have a major procedure coming up without a lot of expensive follow-ups on the horizon, a dental loan might be a good option for you. Dental loans work in much the same way any other loan does, with you applying for a line of credit through a financial institution and then receiving a sum of money that you have to repay while adding interest in. You will pay more through a dental loan than you would pay if you had the money up front, but the ability to break the high cost of a procedure into a number of more affordable payments is usually well worth it. Many institutions that offer dental loans do so at very affordable rates, and some even eschew the normal credit check processes. This makes it easier for people with bad credit or no credit to get approval quickly.
If you opt to look into dental loans, make sure that you have the ability to fit the monthly payment amount into your budget. Failure to make the payments on time could land you with increasing fees and a potentially bad credit score. If you do wind up having trouble making payments, it’s best to reach out to your financial institution immediately to seek an arrangement. Dental loans also work best if you have only one or two major procedures that you need immediate payment for. If your dental issue is a chronic one or you expect to have a series of expensive procedures, you run the risk of stacking multiple loans and causing yourself financial strain due to the high payments. The addition of interest rates and fees can potentially hurt you financially in the future.
In some cases, your dental office might provide you with a way to make payments directly rather than dealing with an external lender. This cuts down on a lot of paperwork, as you don’t have to apply for a loan or other line of credit in order to make your payments. Sometimes, the dental office might have an agreement with a financial institution that provides you with the money to make the payment. In most of these cases, the agreement comes without a prior credit check and does not affect your credit score. This makes such an arrangement ideal for those who do not want to worry about the impact that getting a loan might have on their long-term credit worthiness.
The key with dental payment plans is to make sure that you and your dental office are on the same page. You should make sure that you ask any questions you have up front before you enter into a formal agreement. Failing to pay according to the agreed-upon plan can strain your relationship with your dental office, which could potentially cause problems for you down the line. If you stop making payments altogether, you won’t see a direct impact on your credit score but you will probably need to find a new dental office. In extreme situations, the office may also be able to seek a legal settlement requiring you to make payments. All of these potential problems can be avoided through clear communication, so be sure to talk things through with your dental office beforehand.
Some healthcare financing companies offer special credit cards that you can use for both dental procedures and other healthcare-related costs. These cards work just like a normal credit card, but can only be used at a participating healthcare provider. You complete an application for this card just like you would for a department store card or bank-provided credit card, and your credit worthiness combined with the procedure needed determines the initial credit limit. In many cases, you get the benefit of an introductory period where you receive 0% interest. If you can pay off the debt before the interest rate kicks in, you have no additional fees to pay.
The 0% introductory interest rate offered by many healthcare credit cards makes them very tempting. However, you should strive to pay that debt off in full before the introductory period ends. Once you start paying interest, you not only have to pay what you would in a normal month but also have to pay off the interest that you would have paid during your “free” months. In other words, if you have 12 months of 0% interest but fail to pay off the debt in full by the end of that period, you then need to pay the interest from each of those 12 months for which you didn’t pay. This makes a dental credit card worthwhile for debts you can pay off quickly but potentially problematic for long-term financing.
No matter which financing option you consider, your dental insurance plays a large role in what sort of procedures you can afford and how much you need to pay for them. You should make sure that your dental office always has the most up to date insurance information possible. That way, they can check any quotes for procedures or products against your insurance plan. This allows them to provide a good estimate as to how much your insurance plan will cover. While the estimate is not always 100% accurate, this allows you to form a better guess as to how much financing you need. If a procedure costs $5,000 but your plan will cover half of it, for instance, then you know that you will only need $2,500 in financing.
For procedures that require multiple appointments, you may be able to use your dental insurance to lessen the amount of financing you need. Many plans have a yearly limit; after which you need to pay remaining fees out of pocket. If you know you have multiple procedures upcoming, you could plan one near the end of your insurance cycle and another near the beginning. This allows you to essentially double your yearly limit and thus take out less financing to cover the remainder. Many dentists work with patients to schedule procedures in this matter. Certain expensive procedures, such as dental implants, require multiple appointments that can be spaced out based partly on your insurance needs.
Dental insurance can change for a variety of different reasons, from new government mandates to a change in employer. In some cases, you might even opt for private insurance if you feel that your existing plan doesn’t cover all of your needs properly. When it comes to dental financing, the insurance that you have when you apply for the financing is what matters. Essentially, your dental office generates a charge for the procedure. This charge then goes through your insurance provider, which pays a certain portion. The remainder is up to you to pay. When you make a financing plan, that bill is officially paid—any payments that you make go toward the debt it generates.
Normally, this means that you don’t have to notify your dental office or the provider of a dental loan if your insurance changes. However, you should pay extra attention to a few potential factors that might change things. The biggest thing to pay attention to when your dental insurance changes is whether those changes are retroactive. Some insurance plans provide retroactive savings for procedures that took place 30 or even 60 days before the plan officially began. In that case, you might be able to reclaim some of the money that you paid for a procedure, if the new insurance plan is better than what you previously had. This does not impact your financing, but it may provide you with a refund on a procedure for which you got a loan. If you want, you can use that money to pay off your loan or financing agreement faster than expected.
Whether you just need a way to cover teeth cleaning costs or you have a major procedure for which you need financial help, there are many different ways that you can pay off the costs of a dental procedure. Inexpensive procedures or costs that you know you can pay off quickly can benefit from a dental credit card. Other costs are best handled through a dental loan or financing through your office. No matter what you need, almost everybody qualifies for some sort of financing, and these options work with your dental insurance to provide you with the means to improve your smile.