Our mission has always been to help people manage their risk related to medical expenses, minimize their costs, and make the process easy. It is what has led us to be the leading agency in the country specializing in HSA-qualified health insurance plans, as well as health sharing plans.
The very first step in our six-step Financial Protection Program is to make sure you know how you are going to handle medical expenses. For most of our clients, this is primarily from a health insurance or healthshare plan.
Whether you have a healthshare membership or a traditional medical insurance plan, neither is going to cover every medical need for you and your family.
Vision and Dental Expenses
Do you or someone in your family need glasses or contact lenses? Do you have any medical conditions, such as diabetes, that could affect your vision in the future? Are you concerned about protecting or improving your eyesight? Just your yearly optometry check-up can run you over $250. Prescription glasses can cost you up to $600–possibly more.
What about dental work? The average American spends around $1,000 a year on dental expenses. If you have serious dental issues, that number can climb quickly.
Fortunately, there are ways you can manage these costs and get necessary care for less money.
Five Ways to Lower Your Dental and Optometry Care Costs
Here are the five best ways you as a savvy consumer can help prevent necessary dental and optometry care from draining your savings.
- Shop around: As medical professionals and organizations become increasingly transparent about their procedure pricing, we are learning that fees for services, including for dental and optometry, vary greatly by region, organization and facility. It’s completely possible to save hundreds on procedure costs just by changing the practice you go to–sometimes, in the same town.
- Find ways to save money: This means more than just considering a health savings account, although you can use HSA money to pay for dental and optometry expenses. There are also ways to lower your costs by simply being smart about how and where you spend your healthcare dollars. For example: If you need a new pair of glasses, you could also take your prescription to Costco, which can get you prescription lenses with mid-range frames for around $200, or visit an online discount glasses site like zennioptical.com, which can get you the same for around $100.
- Consider a discount plan: Discount plans are offered by a group of dentists or optometrists who agree to offer services at a lower cost. Getting a card for a discount plan is generally free or low cost. With a discount plan, you are responsible for 100% of the costs charged for services–but those costs are generally 25% to 50% lower. You must go to one of the service providers that are part of the plan to get the discount.
- Consider Dental insurance: Dental insurance can be a good deal, depending on your specific situation and needs. The yearly premiums of dental insurance are generally low enough that they compare to the cost of a single dental visit… once you pay the deductible. That’s the downside to dental insurance: the lower your premium, the higher your deductible (on average around $1,000) and the less coverage you have. If you need a lot of work done or are prone to dental problems, however, dental insurance can save you a lot.
- Consider Optometry insurance: Optometry insurance is a little different from medical or dental insurance. Instead of operating on a premiums-and-deductible system, your monthly payment gives you access to a yearly pool of money that can be used for exams, glasses, and sometimes surgery such as Lasik. However, once that pool of money is gone, you are responsible for all additional costs. There are also limits on what the insurance will pay for, which vary by policy and carrier.
If you are in good health and have some savings in the bank, you may want to pay your dental and vision expenses out of your own pocket. If you shop around and spend carefully, you’re likely to end up with more money in your pocket in the long run.
Almost two out of three Americans have or are currently putting off dental work they need because of the cost. But the problem here is that the cavity you have been trying to ignore will grow larger over time, possibly eventually leading to a root canal or even the loss of a tooth.
If the idea of suddenly having to come up with hundreds or even thousands of dollars and paying full price for dental and vision expenses makes you uncomfortable, you may want to consider getting some coverage.
Rates are not that high. If you’d like to look at your options, contact your Personal Benefits Manager.