Low Income Dental Care and Dentist
You may not realize it, but there are a number of ways to get low cost or free dental care. This is important for those who avoid dental care based on perceived costs. Dental care is one of those health care issues that often can affect the rest of your health in very negative ways if not taken care of. Different low cost dental programs come and go and can vary based on location, below are some of the most popular options for free or cheap dental care.
Dental Groups & Foundations
Numerous dental groups provide pro bono services to communities throughout the country. Below is a list of different organizations that provide free dental care for all.
The American Dental Association sponsors and runs a number of public programs to provide dental care for low income earners and communities that have limited dental resource.
The National Association of Free Clinics is another country-wide program that assists with general health care for low income individuals and families, uninsured and underinsured. As the program is for general health care, services will vary based on resource in any given location. A call to your local branch will quickly provide you with their services and provide alternative options should they not have the services you need.
National Children's Oral Health Foundation also known as the America’s ToothFairy is a national program that provides dental care for at risk children. The program assisted over 2.2 million children, parents and caregivers in 2014/2015. Find out how and where you can get assistance from the program here.
Dental care for seniors and those with disabilities is provided by many of the before mentioned programs but Donated Dental Services specializes in it. The program has a network of over 15000 dentist and 3600 laboratories across the country. Locate your local service branch here.
In certain circumstances, the above programs and services for various reasons may not cover the dental care needed. In instances where payment is needed, there are a few options available.
Dental loans – In certain situations, dental services may be needed immediately and waiting to see a free or low cost provider isn’t an option. Getting access to cash can also be difficult depending on your credit history, income level and other factors. Here is a list of potential low income loans that can quickly be processes. Outside of these option, payment plans through the actual dentist may be your best option.
Payment plans – depending on the dentist, they may offer discounted services and provide an affordable payment plan.
Healthcare financing plans – similar to insurance and dentist payment plans, companies like CareCredit allow customers to go to dental care providers within their network (175000 providers) and make small monthly payments for services needed.
Health Care Plans
If you are low income family or individual you may already be receiving health benefits from a health insurance subsidy such as Medicare, Medicaid or CHIP. These programs all offer some dental care options. Medicare is for those over 65 years of age or those with a disability and offers limited but effective dental care except for routine care. Medicaid is a state run health care subsidy plan to help low income families and individuals. Each state is different but may offer some dental coverage, generally in emergency situations. Most states offer dental coverage for those under 21. CHIP is a gap health care coverage plan for families that do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private medical coverage. Dental coverage under this program for your children varies from state to state.
For each program listed above you will generally need to consult with your case worker or with an administrator to find out exactly what is covered under the program. Usually, emergency care is covered. Under the new ACA program, dental expenses are covered for children under 21 but not for adults. The ACA is expected to offer dental coverage for up to as much as 55% of all children currently not covered for dental expenses.
Your local health department might be a great second choice as these federally funded organizations support federally funded community health centers that provide free or reduced cost health services including dental care. To see what local organizations participate in cheap or low cost dental care, contact your local health and human services department nearest you here.
You may be able to become a part of ongoing training programs or clinical trials from research facilities for dental care. Reach out to your local dental school to see what services they may offer. Many dental schools offer free or very low cost procedures that are performed by students but overlooked by a teaching dentist. It can be a great option to get the quality care you need, a special procedure or even cutting edge procedures you may never receive in the public health care programs. Dental hygienist programs may even be able to offer routine cleaning services from their students.
These services are of the highest quality but do expect longer procedure times as they are students. You will also be dealing with a different dentist each time you return, although this is a small consideration for free quality dental care.
Your local United Way or other large charity organization may also have a number of Dentists that offer free or low-cost services. These organizations can often also either point you in the right direction or even provide one-time funding for emergency procedures. Reaching out to these organizations in your time of need will make the process of accessing dental care easier.
Reach out to these organizations to ensure you can get dental care for routine care as well as emergency services before you actually need it. You do not want to be scrambling during an emergency, know your options ahead of time.
For other medical and healthcare related assistance programs for service and help with paying bills, visit here.