Most employees receive a dental plan as part of their benefits, yet for the growing population of self-employed or unemployed, this is not an option. How do you acquire dental coverage as an individual? What can you do if you cannot afford coverage?
Individual dental plans are uncommon because dental care is fairly standard. There are rarely unexpected major injuries requiring emergency surgery with staggering costs. Most individuals receive two cleanings and checkups a year. Sometimes the occasional filling is required at the most.
Individuals can join "buyers clubs" or "referral plans.” You pay a monthly fee to a plan provider in return for access to dentists who have agreed to a schedule of reduced fees. The patient pays for the treatment directly. There are no payments made to the dentist by a dental plan.
If you cannot afford a dental plan on your own, consider going to your local dental college. Like medical schools, dental colleges often have outreach programs where students provide dental care free or at a greatly reduced cost. The dentists are students, but well along in their schooling and supervised by an experienced dentist. Some dental colleges offer orthodontic care.
If neither an individual plan nor dental college sound like the solution for you, try setting up a payment plan. Whatever choice you make, do not choose to miss regular checkups. Biannual checkups and cleanings will save you more money through preventive measures and catching problems early.