My post yesterday was about facing fear and taking necessary actions, even though they may seem scary. I talked a lot about the fear of going to the dentist, something that affected me for several years. Despite the worst my imagination could conjure, I bit the bullet and got the dental care I needed.
After rereading yesterday’s post, I feel the need to say more about the dentist. I was telling my story and preaching about facing fears from a privileged standpoint. When it comes to the dentist, fear is not the thing keeping many people from seeking dental care (or any other healthcare). It’s the cost.
Dental care is too cost-prohibitive for many people. One cavity filling can cost almost $200; that’s out of pocket.
For many people on Medicaid or CHIP, dental care is out of reach because about two-thirds of providers don’t take these plans. For dentists who do, their patient rosters are too full for them to accept new patients.
Another problem has to do with access. More than 56 million people live in areas that have dentist shortages.
Despite the financial roadblocks, there are work-arounds. For instance, before an expensive procedure, you might be able to negotiate the cost or ask for a discount before work begins. Also, consider going to a dental school for a lower bill; you can search for an accredited dental program here. For other cost-saving ideas, visit AARP’s website.
I have yet to find a decent dental plan ever since I left my cushy job. Some plans seem cheap, but in my opinion, they provide crappy coverage. An alternative to insurance is a dental savings plan. It’s not insurance coverage; it’s a membership. You pay an annual fee and get dental care for significantly reduced rates.
Dental care is one of those things you have to plan for, especially if cost is a factor. For too many people, the fear associated with the dentist has little, if anything, to do with the pain–it’s cost.
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