In many studies done worldwide, one of the top ten reasons people dislike going to the dentist is affordability. What is pocket change to some may seem out of reach for someone else. More than the cost, however, is whether or not a patient sees value in the treatment that is recommended. If a patient does not place any value on dental care, they would rather spend their hard-earned money on things that bring them more pleasure. It is so important for patients to see that their dental health is just as worthy an investment as their medical health.
One topic that is brought up on a regular basis is dental insurance. Why are some dentists “in-network” and why doesn’t dental insurance cover more? Dental insurance is nothing like health insurance or auto insurance. It’s a maintenance plan that will cover cleanings and x-rays and maybe one-third the cost of a crown. The approved payment amounts have not increased at the same rate as the costs related to treatment. It will not protect you if you need a lot of work done. The maximum annual benefits, $1,000 to $1,500, haven’t changed in the 50 years since dental insurance became available. It is minor cost assistance, and there’s a widening divide between patients’ expectations of their dental insurance coverage and the actual coverage that’s provided. More and more doctors are moving away from being preferred providers for insurance companies because insurance companies dictate how much a procedure should cost. The law demands that any amount over and above what the insurance company will pay must be written off as an insurance adjustment. These things make it difficult for your dentist to provide you with the most up-to-date products, which in turn, can provide you with a more pleasant experience in the dental office.
What is important to understand is that dental care is not a commodity. It is a professional service that is both an art and a science, and you often find you get what you pay for. Consider the overhead costs for offering these services. Anywhere from 60% to 80% of what a patient pays goes toward the expense of running a modern dental practice. Dentists pay for rent or mortgage payments on their office space, payroll for hygienists, office managers and receptionists, health insurance, taxes, supplies, business insurance and technology – just to name a few.
Also, labs differ in the quality of the products they produce. We all want our dentists to be using high-quality labs for things like crowns and dentures. Should we have to ask about the labs? No. We should trust our dentists to select a great lab.
Teeth are a crucial part of health and appearance. Untreated gum disease, for instance, is linked to heart disease. (Would you choose a cardiologist based on price?) With time, you will come to realize that shopping price is a minor concern when it comes to your health. Any minor cost differences amortized out over a lifetime will become insignificant. You will get the best results and have the most long-term satisfaction getting care from someone you trust.