I recently found a deal online where it said they were giving federal grants for dental implants. Everything seemed legit at first. They said the money could be used toward any cosmetic procedure, but that a lot of people used it to replace missing teeth and, as long as I was a candidate, I could use my funds toward dental implants. So, I went down to the place they told me I had to go to for the evaluation, and somehow I wound up with a $4,000 treatment plan. But, they said I qualified for almost half the cost in grant money, so I was really looking at a little over $2,000.
It didn’t sound right, so I started pushing for information. Come to find out, they weren’t involved with any kind of federal program. It was a total scam! They just offered “discounts.” Worse yet, I’m pretty sure their discount rate was higher than normal rates most places.
I KNOW I’ve seen details about federal grants for dental implants before. Is it all the same racket or does such a thing really exist?
So sorry to hear you had this experience. It’s heartbreaking that places like this take advantage of people in need of genuine help.
There are No Federal Grants for Dental Implants
If you see any kind of discussion about there being federal programs to cover the cost of dental work, it’s not legit. The primary program circulating now works just like you’ve explained. They refer you to a doctor in their network, who charges you for a consult, and then the office offers you a “discount,” which isn’t always less than you might have otherwise paid and often requires that you sign up for additional cosmetic services. The federal government is not involved in the scheme at all, though the marketing materials will lead you to believe otherwise.
Even Medicare and Medicaid Don’t Usually Cover Dental Needs
The unfortunate truth is that even people on Medicare and Medicaid don’t usually qualify for any kind of dental treatment coverage. Though minors often have some kind of help, adults don’t. With Medicare, the federal program, there are additional policies people can tap into, but the insurers aren’t required to provide oral health care, and so they usually don’t. Medicaid is handled on a state-by-state basis and, while there are a few states with better coverage than others, the majority don’t cover dental care and even those which do usually limit coverage to the “least expensive” treatment, which is usually a bridge or denture.
Missing Tooth Replacements are a Medical Necessity
The problem is, missing a tooth is not a cosmetic problem. It impacts your ability to chew, can make it harder to nourish yourself, and is damaging to self-esteem. Virtually anyone in any kind of patient care role understands this, as do people who are missing teeth. If you’re missing a body part you’re supposed to have, you should be able to restore function. There are movements to correct this massive oversight. For example, the State of New York was recently sued over lack of Medicaid coverage.
You Can’t Undo the Scam, But You Can Still Get Help
Since grants are not an option, you may be able to make treatment more affordable by tapping into some or all the strategies below.
- Have a couple of consults. Visit more than one office and get estimates. You may find different approaches and rates. While you don’t necessarily want to go with the “cheapest,” because cheap can be shoddy or involve shortcuts, seeing the options can help put things in perspective and make it easier to choose a quality dentist who’s offering fair rates.
- Consider alternatives. Even though the dental implant really is the best missing tooth replacement, if it’s genuinely out of reach for you right now, you can talk to your dentist about other options that might work.
- Get insured. If you find a dentist you like, see if he or she accepts any discount plans you can sign up for. If not, check into PPO insurances, but be wary of exclusions and waiting periods. You can stack the benefits of plans, so it may be worthwhile to have a primary and secondary policy. Just be sure to do the math and read the fine print before signing up.
- Ask about payments. Many offices will work out payment plans or accept CareCredit, which is kind of like a credit card, but only works for medical needs. There’s often a no-interest period when you make a charge, so it can work similar to a fee-free loan as long as you pay it off entirely within the specified timeframe.
- Deduct it. Despite the fact that the feds won’t cover the cost of treatment, the IRS will let you deduct it. There are some rules, such as you’ll have to itemize your deductions, and your cumulative medical (and dental) expenses must exceed 7.5% of your income. With the end of the year at hand, now’s a good time to leverage this. You can learn more about the dental deduction on the IRS website.
Hang in there. Even though the grant idea was not legit, you can still have a full smile with a bit of legwork. Best of luck to you!
This blog is sponsored by Elgin dental implant provider, Dr. Steve Sirin.