2/26/14 2:33 PM – Paying for Dental Care

Which saves you more money on dental care – dental insurance or a dental discount plan? The answer is often the dental discount plan, which may surprise you.

Dental discount plans are offered by a number of highly rated companies, like Aetna, Cigna, United Healthcare, Humana and AARP. The discounts can be significant, as much as 50% for things as common as checkups, X-rays, cleaning and cavities. That will probably save you a good bit more money than paying dental insurance premiums that average nearly $600/year plus 20-50% copays and paying out of pocket for charges higher than what the insurance covers.

I just signed our family up with Aetna’s Vital Savings Plan and paid just $105 for the year, plus a one-time $15 fee. It won’t take much family dental care to offset that and start saving.

Aetna has a similar plan for not much more that also gives discounts on eye care and prescriptions. I can’t vouch for how good a deal these are at this point.

The downside to the discount plan, which the companies are very upfront about saying is not insurance, is that you may have to switch dentists, depending on the network. You may find the new dentist is younger and building up a practice. Ask the company to check the list of participating dentists by say a 10-mile radius from your zip code. I recommend checking out the nearest participating dentist before you sign up, which I recommend.

If you live in a rural area, you may not be able to find a nearby participating dentist. If you can’t call the office and see if they participate in any dental discount plans.

Here is the link to Aetna’s plan . You will save money calling them directly instead of signing up through the many websites that compare plans. I saved almost a third by calling direct. Their phone is 866-368-4825.

You also want to check out this article by Forbes magazine that discusses discount dental plans vs. dental insurance .

As you may know, I am not an insurance agent, don’t sell insurance, nor do I get any kind of consideration for referring people. My only source of income is the quarterly fees my clients pay me for managing their money.

Dental care is an eligible expense for a health savings account as long as it is not used for cosmetic procedures. If you get your dental insurance as a work benefit, check with HR about offering employees a dental discount plan, especially if you work for a small company.