Routine dental check-ups are a critical component of good oral hygiene. Many people who need dental care lack dental insurance plans. As of December 2014, there are over 126 million Americans without dental coverage, which is more than three times the number of Americans without standard health insurance. Due to the high costs of most dental treatments, many people choose to ignore their dental problems instead of getting the care that they need.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) conducts an annual Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. In 1995, 44 percent of the survey participants did not have dental insurance. Over the past two decades, this figure has dropped only two percent. During this time, the insurance industry has faced a number of issues including a poor economy, increasing health care costs, and resistance from employers to offer health insurance plans.
Recent health care reform laws have lifted the requirement for children and adults to purchase dental insurance. Select states provide separate or bundled dental plans via the Health Insurance Marketplace. 97 percent of the separate dental coverage policies have full preventative care benefits but only offer partial coverage for major dental treatments.
While finding dental insurance outside of an employer is challenging, there are a few options. With more and more people unable to afford even basic preventative dental care, many dentists are offering or accepting savings plans and third party or in-house financing. Some dental practices also boast incentives such as free new patient consultations and discounted treatments.
Regardless of your current dental insurance situation, it is best practice to go to the dentist for a routine cleaning and check-up twice a year. While these appointments can be expensive, they are significantly less than the dental treatments that you may end up needing without preventative care.