When we want to buy a new product or get a new service, our first instinct is normally to shop around. We compare prices, features, service offerings, etc. Unfortunately, this shopping reflex seems to disappear in certain circumstances! Here are five tips on how to lower your dental costs without sacrificing your oral health!
As we mentioned in a previous post, this is the case with our pill bottle. And it is also true for the dentist. Most of us have been with the same dentist for several years. If you were to move 500 kilometers away from your current location and had to look for a new dentist, how would you go about it? You would most probably search the web to find a dentist that is close by, and call to make an appointment. And that would be it. But have you ever thought of questioning your dental costs or comparing prices? Probably not!
Fully understand your dental costs
Prophylaxis, fillings, endodontics, veneers, periodontal treatments, orthodontics, etc. As in many other fields, dentistry has its own terminology with words that are often hard to understand for the general public. You should therefore not hesitate to ask questions in order to understand your dental costs and check whether you were billed correctly for the services you received.
For several procedures, dentists charge time units. Each time unit is equal to 15 minutes, and dentists can also bill half-units. Consequently, if you spend 30 minutes in the dentist’s chair and your bill shows 3 time units, there is something not quite right! You should question your dentist.
Get a second opinion
Your dentist just told you that you have 5 fillings that need to be done or replaced. Have you ever thought of consulting another dentist to get a second opinion? Sometimes, there is more than one way to fix some problems.
A few years ago, in a study conducted by Reader’s Digest, several patients were sent to different dentists to have their teeth examined. The results of the study came as a shock for the dental community. Major differences were not only found with respect to fees, but also in terms of recommended treatment. It is true that there is often more than one treatment available for a given problem, but in some cases, the practitioners only recommended to their patients a single treatment plan: the most expensive one!
There will often be more than one solution for complex dental problems or a combination of problems (cosmetic concerns, crowded teeth, missing teeth, etc.). You should never hesitate to ask your dentist about the proposed treatment plan and the alternatives in order to lower your dental costs.
Shop around for your dentist
In most Canadian provinces, the dental association publishes a fee guide suggesting prices for each procedure performed by dentists. Although many dentists follow this guide, you will often find major differences in dental costs from one dentist to another. As for any business, dentists are free to set their prices based on their fixed costs, desired profit margin, client base, etc.
You must feel free to ask questions to your dentist or to call on other dentists for validation. Of course, the service provided by and the trusting relationship built with your dentist are important, but all this comes with a price tag!
In several group insurance plans, reimbursement is limited to the amount specified in the current year fee guide. If your dentist charges more than the guide, you will have to pay the difference. Sometimes, the group insurance plan’s reimbursement limit is based on the previous year fee guide, which encourages members to shop around or negotiate their dental costs.
Use tax credits
Dental care expenses are part of the healthcare expenses that may be eligible for tax credits. You will not save directly on your dental bill with this tip, but should you incur major expenses in a given year, you could at least recover part of this amount when you file your income tax return! To learn more, please read our post on this topic.
Prevention is the best treatment
A root canal is expensive! And the best way to lower your dental costs is to take good care of your teeth and not get to the point where you will need the treatment. It cannot be stressed often enough that consistent brushing, flossing, a healthy diet and dental checkups are key to preventing major problems.
Most group insurance plans cover preventative care because they know this will reduce future costs. Make sure you visit your dentist on a regular basis!
Sound management and communication
At AGA, we help employers implement group insurance and retirement plans. But we also take plan member education very seriously in order to ensure their plans remain sustainable.
If you want to find out more about our services or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!
Holding a Bachelor degree in Actuarial Science and a Fellowship with the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, Vincent Soucy worked for the first 10 years of his career in an actuarial consulting firm where he advised national clients on their benefit and retirement plans. He joined AGA in March 2014 and supervises the consulting and underwriting team.
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