In this economy, consumers are less willing to put more debt on their regular credit card and don’t always have money on hand to shell out for a one-time payment. Many dental patients have also lost their insurance or have weaker coverage than in years past, prompting them to offset extra costs from their own wallets or opt out of recommended health procedures.These circumstances and a willingness to make dental expenses easier on patients are why many dental practices are offering patient financing services. These types of programs were thriving before the economy tanked, but a weaker economic climate gave dentists even more of an incentive to offer patient financing to their patients.Allowing patients to finance their bills through a third-party company allows dentists to be paid for their services in a timely fashion. It also allows patients the time to spread out the payments so it’s not a huge strain on their budgets. It can work similarly to a department store credit card, and patients can find out on the spot how much credit they’re allotted.
Doctors have found patients are more willing to take advantage of elective or necessary procedures; they spend fewer resources on in-house billing; and are able to preserve a positive doctor/patient relationship, according to Dave Fasoli, president and CEO of CareCredit, the largest player in the patient financing sector among dentists, holding about 64 percent market share.
“What we hear from consumers is if they owe the dentists money and sometimes they’re behind, they’re sometimes less likely to go to that follow-up care than if the debt was associated with a third party,” Mr. Fasoli said.
About 130,000 medical practices utilize CareCredit, with 85,000 being dentists, Mr. Fasoli said. Other companies like Citibank also offer patient financing services for dental practices.
FINANCING DENTAL IMPLANTS
At Pi Dental Center, we do our best to make your dental implant treatment possible and affordable. Part of our comprehensive treatment process is to help you find the best options for treatment and explore feasible payment options. Following your comprehensive diagnostic evaluation, you will have a consultation and be presented with a tentative treatment plan outlining all procedures and fees. Payment options will be explored. Our patient relations director has over twenty years of experience in arranging funding for the most extensive and sophisticated treatment.
How can I afford this expense?
The first step in determining if this investment is necessary is realizing the need to improve your health and consider the benefits that treatment will provide. Ask yourself how treatment will change your life, your future and why it is necessary. Determine if the condition of your mouth has an affect on the quality of your life or if it will start to affect you in the coming years.
Evaluate Your Situation.
Is your dental health a high priority?
The condition of your teeth and gums affects your general health. Periodontal disease has been shown to increase your risk for serious heart problems. Studies have shown that other health risks are also increased when a person has an unhealthy mouth. An inability to eat foods and maintain a varied and balanced diet also places you at greater health risk. Have you noticed an increase in health problems since your dental condition began to deteriorate?
An unattractive mouth also can negatively affect your employment. It is more difficult to get a well paying job or advance to a better position when your smile is not appealing. This in-turn reduces your ability to produce a sufficient income. Have you noticed that prospective employers or current supervisors have acted less receptive than you would have expected? Have you noticed that other employees are chosen before you when promotions are given out?
An unattractive mouth affects your social life. When your teeth look unattractive, it affects your self-esteem. Many people with broken and missing teeth smile less and avoid social events. They often stay home when asked to go to a restaurant or eat in public. Your embarrassment can appear to other people to be reticence. Other people may think you are unfriendly, taciturn or strange. This can cause others to avoid contact with you. Have you noticed people acting differently toward you than they act toward other people?
The condition of your mouth is not going to improve without action. Your dental condition can only get worse if you do not take action. If it has not already happened, your health can begin to deteriorate. Determine if treating your mouth is a necessity. If it is, then finding the funds to pay for treatment is crucial.
Determine the total cost of treatment
Following your comprehensive diagnostic workup, a tentative treatment plan will be presented outlining all costs. During your consultation, discuss how much money will be needed at the beginning of treatment and at the start of each phase of treatment. Determine how soon you will begin treatment and need to make payments. Ask if there are other treatment options available to you and learn the cost.
In some cases, your treatment program can be broken into several phases, accomplishing the more serious needs first. It is not unusual for us to design a plan of dental treatment that is delivered and paid for over a period of several years.
How to afford treatment
If you have an adequate amount of money in savings, think about whether it would be better to finance dental treatment using savings or to finance it through some other method. If you are currently getting a good return on your investments, is it better to take out a loan? What are your other choices? These questions can be answered by Patient Relations Director, Pat Martin. Below you will find basic information about the most common forms of financing.
There are two types of loans. A secured loan is loan that has an asset (collateral) backing it up. A mortgage is a secured loan that uses your house as collateral. A car loan is also a secured loan. An unsecured loan is not backed up by collateral. Because lenders take a bigger risk when providing you an unsecured loan, interest rates are higher. Credit card are unsecured loans.
What type of loan is best for you?
Learn about Care Credit
Home equity loans: These are fixed rate loans available in terms ranging from 5 to 15 years. When you take a home equity loan, you borrow the money all at once and start repaying it immediately. The best deals often come from local banks or credit unions. Closing costs vary from about $300 to $500. These are good for projects where large amounts of money are needed at one time. The interest rates on this type of loan are less than most others.
If part of the payment was needed several months after the initial payment, a bank account could be created to hold the amount of the second payment. This would keep the money safe during the interval and allow it to gain a small amount of interest.
Home equity lines of credit: (HELOC) These are variable rate loans with interest rates that are usually tied to the prime rate (with a lifetime interest rate cap at 18 percent. Unlike home equity loans, you do not have to borrow all the money at once. You receive the equivalent of a checkbook and withdraw and pay back funds as needed. These are ideal when funds are needed over time. You only pay interest on the money that you have withdrawn. Fees for this type of loan vary and are less than home equity loans.
Cash-out refinance: It is possible to draw out additional equity that you’ve paid into the home or equity that has been acquired through appreciation of your property. This differs from the home equity and HELOC loans because you are not taking out a second mortgage and has advantages and disadvantages. Advantages – As long as you are not drawing out all or more than the equity in your home, interest rate will generally be lower than any of the other options. A greater amount of the mortgage interest is also deductible. Disadvantages – You will require a new appraisal and face additional costs. These are best when you have seen a drop in interest rates since the original mortgage was taken out.
If interest rates are higher it doesn’t make sense to pay a higher rate on all of the money you owe on your house. If rates have gone up and you still need to draw funds from your house, a home equity loan or HELOC is a better choice. This allows you to pay a higher rate only on the incremental portion.
Also, refinancing can require you to pay mortgage insurance. This additional cost may make the home equity loan or HELOC the better option.
Reverse mortgage: If you are a senior citizen, consider a reverse mortgage. These are loans that allow you to borrow back the equity in your principal residence. You must be 62 years of age to qualify for a reverse mortgage. The amount you can borrow depends upon your age, the value of your home and current interest rate. There is no credit or income requirement. There are no monthly payments to make and the loan does not have to be paid back until you sell your home, die or move out for a period of one year or more. Payout from a reverse mortgage can be provided in a lump sum, a line of credit or a monthly payment. With the line of credit option, you do not have to pay interest on money that you have not withdrawn. In fact, your line of credit will continue to earn interest while it is waiting to be used. (See the reverse mortgage calculator at aarp.org/revmort/.) Be sure to learn all of the details of a reverse mortgage before deciding this is right for you.
Loans against your whole life insurance policy: Whole life insurance policies accumulate cash values. Some of the money you pay into your whole life policy accumulates as a guaranteed cash value. If you choose to surrender the policy, these guaranteed cash values would be available to you. Or, as long as the policy is in force, you may borrow against them as a policy loan at the current policy loan interest rate.
The amount of your guaranteed cash value depends on the kind of whole life policy you have, its size and how long you’ve had it. The growth in cash values is tax deferred under current federal income tax law. Borrowed amounts reduce the death benefit and cash surrender value until they are repaid.