Dental fees add up sometimes without you even knowing. Would you like a “flouride” treatment? Well sure, why not? Then upon checkout or your next invoice, your hit with a $20 charge.
Dental offices cleverly capture these fees in addition to insurance payments. Like any medical prodedure, whenever the office offers you something ask for the total cost before hand if possible. If you ask for any tests, x-rays, fillings, crowns, etc. you should also ask about the costs or it could be a blank check to the dentist office. Many of the following ideas apply for medical or vision fees too.
If you don’t have dental insurance your office should be willing to negotiate a lower costs for services. And regardless of insurance, always negotiate. If they’re unwilling to negotiate that’s a caution flag and you may want to seek a second option.
The American Dental Association® has an excellent website with valuable information for options, disputes, and education. Most of the links below are within the ADA® site. Leave your ideas and experiences below.
Other ways to reduce dental fees
Ask for FREE sample
This might be small change is the bigger picture but it all adds up. Ask for a free sample of mouthwash, floss, or toothpaste upon leaving. Usually they’ll have a few items in stock they may give to you. It never hurts to ask for a free sample.
More and more people are traveling out of the US for medical and dental procedures due to cost advantages while maintaining the similar level of care. Some may even accept your US insurance plan.
Obviously this can be expensive and time consuming depending on your location but if your procedure is costly it may be a consideration. The quality of care may not be as bad as some perceive but then there is the issue of follow up visits.
It may be possible that your dental (and medical) providers offers reduced rates for those with proven financial hardship or low-income. Make sure to discuss this upfront to understand the viability of this option.
Early Payment (or Timely Payment)
This idea applies to many types of expenses. Will the other party offer a discount for early payment, up-front payment, or payment within a quick period of time after the services are rendered? There is nothing to lose by asking.
As with any fee, negotiating can only help and the best chances come when you’re prepared and respectful. Negotiate prior to paying the fees so there aren’t any surprises. Get any agreed terms in writing. If your being contacted by a debt collecting agency you often have more negotiating leverage. These agencies typically by outstanding obligations (debts) from businesses at very low cost (since they are assuming all the risk of ever collecting any of it).
Local dental school
Often a fraction of the price of typical dentist but these are students under the supervision of faculty. These educational programs offer a wide array of procedures but the risk is the level of quality. Procedures could also take more time since the teachers are collaborating with the students during the procedure.
Get Insurance or a Discount Plan
This comes with a costs too but may be worth it if you have time to get it in place. Especially if you have more dental risks/costs looming in the future for you or your family. The link below is to an ADA page that breaks down the types of insurance and dental plans.
Before you ink in a plan, verify the following:
- Insurance company is registed in your state
- Your dentist accepts that plan
Ask the dentist office to determine the amount covered by the plan and how much you need to pay out of pocket.
Filing a Complaint against a Dentist
If there’s a dispute with the services or fees from your dentist office the first step is to attempt resolving with the dentist office. Read the section on “Effective Complaining” to prepare yourself. If your not satisfied let them know you plan to contact your state’s dental board. If that fails, follow through and:
- Contact your local dental society
- Contact your state dental board
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