Millions of people in the United States have no dental coverage. Most health insurance plans don't include dental care, leaving some middle- and low-income individuals without this important service. If you end up rushing to your local dentist with an emergency, you could walk away with a hefty bill that you just can't afford. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to get that dental bill paid.
Contact Your Dentist
The first step you should take is to contact your dentist directly and ask to be placed on a payment plan. Many dentists are willing to work with their patients as long as they see an effort being made. Discuss with the finance department exactly how much you can afford to pay each month, or how many months they are willing to give you to collect the total balance.
Apply for CareCredit
CareCredit is available for anyone who needs help paying medical bills, even medical bills for their pets. It is a credit card, so you'll need to apply and be approved. Once you receive your card, you can use that to pay off the dental bill. CareCredit will then give you between six and 24 months to pay off the balance. As long as the amount is over $200, you won't be charged any interest during that promotional period.
Take Out a Loan
Another option to get your dental bill paid is to take out a short-term personal loan. Always shop for the best loan with the lowest interest rate before signing on the dotted line. This option works well if you know you have money coming in within the next couple of months to pay the loan off, such as a tax refund or a bonus from work.
Borrow From Friends and Family
If at all possible, try to borrow the amount you owe your dentist from a friend or family member. They likely won't charge you interest like a short-term loan. They may also be willing to allow you to work some of the money off by performing a service they need, such as cleaning the house once a week or mowing the lawn for the summer.
Come to a Settlement Agreement
If you can't pay your dental bill by the time the dentist office sends it to a collections agency, you should be able to come to a settlement agreement. Collections agencies don't typically expect to get the full payment and will often take a fraction of what you owe. Don't be afraid to negotiate to come to an amount you are able to pay.
- Dental Health: Affordable Dental Financing
- Money Under 30: What To Do When You Get Medical Bills You Can’t Afford Read more at: https://www.moneyunder30.com/paying-medical-bills-you-cant-afford
- Credit Sesame: How to Get Dental Care Without Going Into Debt
- Chicago Tribune: The Other Looming Health Crisis: Americans' Lack of Dental Care
- ADA Health Policy Institute. "Dental Benefits Coverage in the U.S.," Accessed Oct. 10, 2019.
- Member Benefits. "Dental Costs With and Without Insurance," Accessed Oct. 10, 2019.
- ADA Health Policy Institute. "Cost Barriers to Dental Care in the U.S.," Accessed Oct. 10, 2019.
- American Medical Loans. "Dental Loans & Finance," Accessed Oct. 10, 2019.
Alicia Bodine is a New Jersey-based writer specializing in finance. With more than 13 years of experience, her work has appeared in LendingTree, GoBankingRates, Sapling, Zacks and budgeting.thenest.com.