How Alternatives To Dental Insurance for Students Can Save Money

by Jodie Norquist - posted 12/16/2012

College is an exciting time in a person's life. It is when a teenager becomes an adult, develops lifelong friendships and learns a profession or skill. It's also a time when money is tight. Many college students begin to understand the value of a dollar because they have so little money at this stage in their adult lives.

College students also may find themselves without student dental insurance and unable to afford it. Unfortunately, dental emergencies can happen at any time in a person's life and can create a real financial hardship when you find yourself facing a large dental bill and not enough money to pay it.

High school graduates who have decided to put off college and work for a few years after high school can find it even more difficult to access affordable dental care. Full-time jobs with health and dental insurance benefits can be hard to get without a college degree or skills in a trade. Most entry level jobs generally offer lower wages and limited or no health and dental insurance.

When the Affordable Care Act became law in 2011, it allowed young adults ages 19 to 25 to remain on their parents' health insurance, including dental coverage if they have it. According to a private foundation study in 2011, the federal act allowed nearly 14 million college-aged students between 19 to 25 accessibility to their parents' health insurance.

Not all young adults have parents who have health or dental insurance. Even after the ACA was adopted, nearly two out of every five people within that age group still didn't have access to health or dental insurance in 2011. In the meantime, while they are just beginning to get on their feet and enter the workforce, more than one-third of them were trying to pay off mounting medical debt, according to the report.

Dental insurance for students, as well as other student health insurance plans, may be offered in some form on college campuses. The problem is that the healthcare programs might not be affordable on a college student's tight budget. Some colleges may offer student health insurance, but don't offer dental or vision insurance plans.

There are costs associated with a student dental insurance plan that need to be considered:

Premiums: These can vary, depending on the plan, but can cost around $30 to $60 per month.

Deductibles: This is the amount of money you'll have to pay before your dental insurance coverage kicks in and pays for all or a portion of your dental care up to an annual maximum amount. A deductible for a student insurance plan is usually about $50. It's important to note that even if you've met your deductible, you still might have to pay a percentage of your dental bill. Some dental insurance providers may pay 80 percent of the costs while you are responsible for 20 percent of the bill.

Annual Maximum: This is the maximum amount your insurance provider will pay for you. This amount is often up to $1,000 per year but it varies, depending on the plan. If you had to have dental work that costs you $700, after your insurance paid you would have only $300 more coverage for the remainder of the year.

It's important to note that most dental insurance providers do not cover orthodontics, like braces.

If you're suddenly faced with excruciating tooth pain or haven't had a regular dental check-up or cleaning for awhile, there is an affordable alternative to student dental insurance that may help.

Discount dental plans can be a way for students to access dental services without any hassles or high costs. This alternative to dental insurance for students is easy to sign up for and can be considerably less expensive than paying monthly dental insurance premiums or the full cost of your dental bill.

Students can save anywhere from 20 to 60 percent right away on dental services through a discount dental plan. The monthly fees for a discount dental plan can be as low as the cost of a meal at a fast food chain.

A college student can sign up for a discount dental plan and use it that same day, an advantage if you're suffering from a dental emergency and require immediate dental care. 

A discount dental plan offers discounts on:

• Dental exams and cleanings
• Most major dental work, including root canals and crowns

A college education is an investment you are making for your future. A discount dental plan might help ease the financial burden when you're just starting out on your path to independence.

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