Can I Go To A Dentist Without Insurance?
When I’m getting to know a new patient during an examination, it’s not uncommon for me to hear something like this:
“I didn’t have dental insurance for a long time, so I couldn’t see a dentist.”
For a long time, when I heard patients say this, I assumed this meant one thing. I assumed that patients thought that the cost of seeing a dentist and having a routine exam and teeth cleaning was not affordable. Over the course of one year, the average person spends much more on their phone bill, cable bill, haircuts or manicures than they would as a cash paying patient with no dental insurance to get their teeth cleaned twice a year. I truly think that a lot of people out there don’t realize this or even think of it this way. Sometimes a little perspective really changes things.
Well, you know what they say about assumptions. They get us in trouble and hide the truth sometimes. As I talked to more patients and really listened to what some people were saying, I realized that there is a much more basic misunderstanding out there. Some people think that dentists won’t even see a patient that does not have dental insurance. Like, you will be denied entry into the office if you do not possess some form of dental insurance!
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Almost 40% of the patients in my practice have no dental insurance whatsoever. They receive the same standard of care that all of the patients in our practice receive.
Occasionally patients will ask me specific questions about their insurance coverage while I’m presenting treatment options and clinical findings. I typically tell them that I have no idea because I don’t even look at their insurance coverage or plan details while I’m doing examinations and treatment all day. My staff is highly trained to handle those concerns so that I can focus on taking care of people.
So how do patients with no dental insurance pay for dental treatment when their needs are extensive and the investment to properly care for those needs is high? The answer is in-house financing or third party financing plans. Most of our patients take advantage of these programs to make the level of care that they want affordable.
It’s often said in dentistry that dental care isn’t expensive but neglect is. I would estimate that 90% of the dental problems that I treat on a daily basis are of the completely preventable nature. If more patients understood that 1) routine dental care is more affordable than they think and 2) anyone can see a dentist regardless if they have insurance or not, we would treat fewer emergency situations in our practice and avoid costly treatment options for many patients.