Dental Assistance Through Government Programs
The price of healthcare in America is unbelievably high—dental care included.
Though we have Medicare and Medicaid to help manage the costs, dental health is rarely consider high priority. Still, you may not be out of luck if you need dental implants.
Medicare is a federally funded program providing health insurance that is designed for the elderly and people with disabilities. If you qualify, you probably already know.
You might also know that Medicare does not cover most dental work, including implants.
However, it may be able to help lower out-of-pocket hospital expenses or any inpatient healthcare costs in the event of a dental-related emergency.
When you use Medicare for this reason, it typically won’t cover the actual expense of the dental procedure, but it can assist with the other aspects that are not directly linked to dental work. It may also assist with certain types of dental services in the event that you are hospitalized due to an emergency or an accident.
Medicare on its own is not the place for assistance with the cost of your implants. Yet you can find some “Medigap” (Medicare Advantage) plans offered through private companies that may provide some forms of dental coverage.
The specific plans will vary depending on your location. You should do research into what types of dental plans are being offered as a Medicare add-on in your area.
Medicaid is another health insurance program offered by the government. It is income based, making it suitable for people of all ages. Eligibility requirements factor in age, disability, pregnancy, and other factors.
Medicaid has a wider scope than Medicare. However, it is jointly funded by the federal government and the states and therefore differs from state to state. Depending on where you live, some benefits are mandatory and others are optional. Yet, dental coverage almost always falls under “optional”.
Do your own research to find out what Medicaid covers in your state. Medicaid generally sticks to “emergency” and “medically necessary” treatments. This means that coverage often comes down to the interpretation of medical and legal definitions.
If the treatment is for a child, for instance, those definitions may be stretched a bit further. CHIP (Children’s Health Insurance Program) is a children’s health care coverage plan that is offered through Medicaid. Those with children may also qualify for this type of coverage as well.
If you have questions about Medicare or Medicaid, you can reach them by telephone at 1-800-MEDICARE. They will be able to let you know what is available to you based on your location and income level.
If you don’t qualify for such programs, it’s ok. There’s no need to depend on the government to get the dental care you need.
Dental schools are a great way to find dental care for a reduced rate.
Yes, you will be training or test material. But any procedure done by a student would come with a sizable discount. You may also find space in a postgraduate or faculty clinic for a lesser discount.
Finding an opening in your area can be a bit tough unless you’re willing join a waiting list. You may also do well to look for associated services separately.
Making more calls will likely lead you to better results. Willingness to commute a couple hours might help as well.
Speaking of commuting.
Dental Implants Overseas
Taking a trip to another country may cut $1,000s off the cost of dental implants.
Whether it sounds outlandish to you or not, “medical tourism” is a real thing. You may have heard of star athletes going overseas for controversial procedures. This is different.
Factors like exchange rates (the dollar is strong), differences in education, and a variety of other factors affect pricing. Many dental procedures have been around for a long time and are relatively simple. It’s no surprise many of them are the most common procedures people travel for.
According to MEDIGO, dental implants start at around $600 in Mexico. Some countries in Europe are even lower than that. Obviously, you have to factor in travel. But that’s not necessarily a negative.
Your other consideration is quality. You’ll need to the research to find a provider you trust at a price that makes it worth it to you.
This may seem like a lot of work and a lot of risk. Maybe it’s true. If you’re serious about saving money on dental implants, there’s still more you can do.
Other Organizations that Might Help
This group is digging kind of deep.
There is value here, but you may have to hunt for it. A variety of things turn up when you think outside the box.
You may also have access to other local programs. Contact all relevant health departments and take a look at this directory of State Oral Health Programs from the ASTDD.
Final Tips on Lowering Dental Implant Costs
Despite all of the organizations that might help you save money on dental implants, you are the one with the most power to lower your dental implant costs.
Your willingness to do research and your ability to utilize it in the right way are the main keys.
Our closing advice focuses on these things.
Research your location. Location makes a disproportionate effect in dental pricing. Practices in prime locations charge more because they can. Target blue collar neighborhoods or smaller cities in your area. Be willing to travel an hour or two away and you might end up saving several hundred dollars (including gas).
Look for desperation. You can expect some groups to be more eager to get clients than others. New dentists always need business. Those with outdated marketing (old websites and other indicators) are also good targets. You might even go for practices with poor publicity or trying to heal a negative reputation.
Cash is king. Cash lubricates all business transactions. In this case, part of the reason has to do with fees that dentists have to pay to credit card and insurance companies in order to accept them as payment methods. It also provides a lot of built-in flexibility. Be sure you ask for discounts when paying cash; don’t assume it will be given.
Be flexible. You may end up finding the perfect dentist to create your implants and another solution for cheap X-rays and extraction. Depending on your associated costs and what is available locally, a piecemeal solution may work very well for you. On the other hand, you might be better off bundling all services with one professional.
Negotiate for your price. Step up to the plate and work those prices. If you’ve put in an honest effort with the research, you should have plenty of leverage. You’ll get a lot of honesty, when you demonstrate that you know what different things should cost, how much the competition is charging, and where the pressure points are.
Apply all of these strategies together. Take notes every time to talk to a dentist on the phone or have an official consultation. Notice the patterns and use them to influence you get treated by local dentists near you. Read our dental guides and educate yourself.
If you take all of the strategies to heart, you’re guaranteed to save money on dental implants.
Costs are certainly high. But if you do your due diligence, you might be able to find a way to bring the price down to something easier on your budget.
If not, you might want to look into some of the more naturally-affordable tooth replacement options on the market.
Questions? Leave your comment below and we will try to help you out!