The Definitive Guide to Discount Dental Plans and Insurance

Going to the dentist can be expensive. In fact, the average cost of seeing a dentist has more than tripled over the last 30 years, forcing some patients to skip annual cleanings and essential procedures altogether. Thankfully, dental discount programs are available that help families cut costs and take care of their dental needs without breaking the bank.

This guide will help you understand what makes discount dental plans different, and how they can be an ideal choice for you and your family.

What are Discount Dental Plans compared to Dental Insurance Plans?

Discount dental plans are NOT dental insurance plans. Let's make that clear up front. Discount dental plans are affordable dental insurance alternatives that work a lot like warehouse club memberships – your "membership" allows you to enjoy discounts for the dental procedures you receive at participating providers. You still pay for all of your dental services and procedures, but you enjoy them at a discounted rate compared to patients who don't have a discount dental plan. How deep that discount is depends on the type of discount dental plan you choose, as there are many on the market.

Although discount dental plans are not insurance, this affordable alternative gives your family cost-effective options as reported here, but there are some major differences.

Unlike most dental insurance, discount dental plans are available directly, not just through your employer, so anyone can take advantage of their money-saving benefits. This is great if your employer doesn't offer any kind of dental option in your group benefits plan, or if you're unemployed, self-employed, or between jobs and don't have access to affordable dental insurance.

Membership in a discount dental plan also provides access to a large network of participating dentists who offer their services at reduced rates, so you pay less than the full price for services such as X-rays, cleanings, and even root canals. In some cases, insurance doesn't even cover some of the services and procedures discounted by a good discount dental plan.

Why the Need for Discount Dental Plans?

There are many reasons a family might choose a discount dental plan, including the fact that:

  • Not all employers offer traditional dental insurance
  • Dental insurance premiums are more expensive
  • Dental insurance comes with a maximum benefits cap
  • Dental insurance has restrictions
  • Not all services are covered by dental insurance

Everyone Qualifies

Fewer employers are offering dental coverage options in basic benefits packages, leaving families to pick up the cost or go without necessary care. Even if you have access to a dental insurance plan, discount dental plans can be more affordable per month than dental insurance premiums. Those who can't afford to pay more than $100 a month for dental insurance may not have the kind of savings required to pay for unexpected dental procedures, either, which may not even be covered under insurance – so discounts on these procedures certainly help.

Although the Affordable Care Act stipulates that children's dental coverage be a required benefit for everyone under 18 years of age, the ACA doesn't require dental plans for adults. Traditional dental insurance also may come with a low benefits cap, which limits the maximum amount the insurer has to pay. This is true even for post-ACA dental insurance, and it means that, once the annual maximum amount has been paid by the insurance company, you're responsible for any costs exceeding that amount. Discount dental plans can be beneficial to those families facing lower benefits caps.

No Restrictions

Dental insurance also has restrictions that discount dental plans don't. Some dental practices are choosing not to file insurance at all because less administrative work translates to better prices for their customers. In that case, you would be responsible for paying your dental bill at the time of service, submitting your insurance claim after the fact, and waiting on the insurance company to reimburse you.

In contrast, discount dental plans offer the discounts up front, right in the dental office, so you're not left juggling paperwork and paying the full cost of your procedures up front, only to be left wondering if the insurance company will reimburse you for those procedures. You simply pay the discounted rate at the time of service, and that's that.

Your Dentist Gets Paid Directly

You may be wondering why this is a benefit, but more and more dentists are moving away from accepting insurance because they feel they can provide better quality care by working directly with patients. Practices that work with insurance companies have to tack on extra fees for various treatments because insurance companies dictate these fees, not the dental office itself. Practices also have to hire staff to file insurance paperwork for them, which translates to more overhead.

Paying your dentist directly, even under a discount plan, often means more affordable care. As more dental practices move away from the insurance model and begin accepting discount dental plans, patients can expect even more savings.

Enjoy Discounts on a Wider Range of Procedures

Some dental work isn't even covered under traditional dental insurance. This leaves families to pick up the full cost despite being insured. Discount dental plans may offer reduced rates on services not included by standard insurance plans, like cosmetic procedures, allowing individuals to receive the services they need without paying full price.

Unlike dental insurance, however, you'll always have to pay some money out of pocket when you visit the dentist, and the amount will depend on the type of procedure or preventative service you have done. When you can't afford traditional dental insurance, or if you know you'll need major dental work done in the future that won't be covered by insurance, a discount dental plan can be a cost-effective solution.

To recap the pros of discount dental plans:

  • Discount dental plans are available to everyone
  • Discount dental plans can be cheaper than monthly insurance premiums 
  • Discount dental plans save money on procedures that some insurance plans won't cover

Why Carefree Dental?

If you've decided that a discount dental plan is right for your family, you have a choice when it comes to selecting the plan that works for you. There are many discount dental plans on the market, but Carefree Dental makes it easy to sign up and enjoy the savings. With a large network of over 226,000 available dental practice locations nationwide*, it's likely there's a dentist in your area who accepts our discount card.

You can even take advantage of our dental network on the road, regardless of where you live, as long as the provider is in our network. 

*As of September 2017


One of the best aspects of using the Carefree Dental card is the cost. At just $15.95/ mo. for single or $19.95/mo for families, our plan for discount dental care is affordable. With the family membership, everyone in the household can use the same card at no extra cost. There's no paying extra for children or a spouse like traditional dental insurance requires. One low monthly payment ensures your entire household can enjoy discounted procedures!

Carefree Dental customers can enjoy an average savings of 50% on oral exams, 47% on x-rays, 45% on cleanings, and 37% on root canals, receive savings of 15%-50%** per visit, in most instances, on services. With the cost of expensive procedures like braces, our discount plan could save you as much as $2,000. When you have to pay for dental care out of pocket, that makes a huge difference in whether or not you can afford these must-have procedures.

**Actual costs and savings may vary by provider, service and geographic location. We use the average of negotiated fees from participating providers to determine the average costs, as shown on the chart. Based on the cost of care tool as of September 2017.

Discounts on a Wider Range of Procedures 

Carefree Dental provides a broad range of discounts on dental services and procedures. From preventative cleanings and checkups to the most expensive procedures like root canals and cosmetic veneers, most dental work is included. This includes fillings, crowns, dentures, and more!

Easy to Sign Up and Enjoy the Savings

Purchasing a Carefree Dental discount plan is simple. There are no complicated forms to fill out or any sensitive information you have to share with us. Signing up is easy and straightforward, and your program is activated as soon as you buy it. There's no waiting you have to go through before taking advantage of the program, and benefits take effect immediately upon your program's activation.

This means that if you need a major procedure done right away, you can get the Carefree Dental discount plan beforehand for immediate savings on discounted procedures. As long as your dentist participates in our network, you won't have to hold off on your procedure or reschedule an upcoming appointment to wait for the discounts to kick in.

Using our discount dental plan is also easy. Simply show your card and save your money, even for emergency dental procedures. This allows you to plan for essential non-emergency procedures in advance. This is a great benefit for those who prefer to budget their annual dental checkups and procedures, putting you back in control.

No Restrictions

There's also no annual limit on benefits like there would be with traditional insurance plans. 

You can even test out the discount dental plan to make sure it's right for your family and return it within 30 days for a full refund if you are not satisfied.

No Hassles 

Unlike traditional insurance, our discount dental plan doesn't require you to fill out forms to use the benefit or go through an approval process before you receive your discount. This is something that can cause a lot of headache and worry, especially when a procedure is unexpected. Discount dental plans provide the discounts up front rather than offer reimbursement after a lengthy approval, so savings is instant at the time of service.

Major Perks

As a bonus, each Carefree Dental plan includes a free vision and Rx card, allowing you to save on prescriptions, corrective eyewear, and contacts. One affordable plan can take the place of both traditional dental and vision coverage, and reduce your prescription medication costs. That alone is a great incentive to give Carefree Dental a try!

Consider the Advantages

This guide has provided in-depth information on discount dental plans and how they differ from traditional insurance options, but let's summarize the main advantages:

  • Discounts on preventative, emergency, and cosmetic dental procedures, plus discounts on vision and prescription needs. 
  • Anyone can purchase a discount dental plan, and everyone in your household can use the discount card if you have a family membership .
  • There are no restrictions or caps on how much you can save.
  • Carefree Dental provides access to the Aetna Dental Access® network of participating providers, with 226,000 available dental practice locations nationwide* 
  • No waiting or commitment, and cancellation is easy.

*As of September 2017

What Are You Waiting For?

Discount dental plans provide thousands of uninsured individuals and families with money-saving solutions that allow them to afford essential dental care. If you're struggling to afford dental procedures, are uninsured, or simply want a better solution, a discount dental plan may be right for you. A Carefree Dental discount plan is available to anyone, and cuts costs with savings of 15%-50%* per visit, in most instances, on services, so why wait? With no commitment and no penalty,  try it out and see if it will make a difference in your family's life.

*Actual costs and savings vary by provider, service and geographical area

At Carefree Dental, we want you to experience a better way to save on dental care.

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