David Rodeck

Controlling Costs: Dental

When your employees have a healthy smile, they not only look great but they’re more productive, too. After all, who can focus on work with a toothache? But high dental care costs might be keeping your employees from getting the treatment they need.

Americans skip dental work more than any other type of health care because of cost, according to research from the American Dental Association, and this is a problem even for people with dental insurance. To help your employees find affordable care, try giving them the following tips.

Take Advantage of Insurance

If your employees have dental insurance, they have a set benefit each year — for example two cleanings and a maximum spending limit for dental work. Whatever they don’t use by the end of the year is lost. The unspent amount can’t be rolled over for the future.

Remind employees to visit the dentist before these benefits expire. This way, if an employee discovers they need some expensive work, they can take advantage of the current year’s spending limit as well as next year’s.

Negotiate for Discounts

Employees should ask their dentist if they offer any discounts. Dentists might lower prices if employees schedule appointments during slow periods or if they pay for the entire procedure upfront with cash. Your employees should also watch out for online deals or coupons from dentists looking to attract new patients.

If your employee can’t afford to pay for an entire procedure all at once, they should ask the dentist about an installment plan to help avoid delaying treatment.

Finally, patients should consider purchasing a dental discount plan, especially if they do not have dental insurance. Dentists who work under these plans agree to offer services at a discount of roughly 10 to 60 percent off what they normally charge, according to DentalPlans.com. Remind them, though, that a dental insurance plan has these discounts built it, so having dental insurance solves this issue.

Consider Low-Cost Options

If an employee needs an expensive dental procedure, there are low-cost alternatives to the regular dentist. Some dentists specialize in treating patients who do not have insurance and offer lower prices, especially for those in lower income brackets.

Your employees could also consider getting work done at a dental college. The procedure would be supervised by a trained dentist, and your employee could get the work done at a discount.

How Tax-Free Reimbursements Can Help Make Employee Health Affordable Read article

Use an HSA or FSA

If your organization offers a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA), your employees can use these accounts to save for dental care costs and other medical expenses. They contribute pretax dollars to these accounts and do not pay income tax when they spend on qualified medical expenses.

Finally, remind employees that the best way to keep dental care costs low is by avoiding serious problems in the first place. They should floss and brush every day while seeing the dentist at least once a year for a cleaning. This small investment in time and money will prevent painful and expensive dental problems. That’s something your employees will smile about.

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