What is a discount dental plan?
You can think of a discount plan like a membership club with volume pricing. Discount dental plans negotiate discounted rates with participating providers. When a member receives care from a participating provider, they save 20% to 60% or more off of that provider’s regular fees. There is no waiting, no forms to file, no limits on use, and no annual limits.
Discount plans are not insurance and do not pay anything towards the cost of treatment. But, they do generate substantial savings through discounts for their members. Members can save a lot or a little, depending on how much work they need to have done. With Direct Access, it is not uncommon for members to save more than their annual membership fee on just one visit to the dentist.
How much does it cost?
That depends on the plan that you choose and the state in which you buy.
Dental-only pricing ranges from $7.90/month for a single up to $15.90/month for a family. Dental, Vision, Hearing, & Rx bundled pricing ranges from $9.25/month for a single up to $17.25/month for a family. There is a one-time setup fee of $20 and a 10% discount for annual payments.
Please note that pricing varies in certain states (Utah and Idaho).
Which plan is best for me?
That depends. For most members, the decision comes down to their choice of dentists.
Direct Access Value (also called Level 1 providers in UT and ID) offer the lowest prices. That means that if your dentist participates in these plans, you will receive the lowest prices (save 20% to 60% or more) on your dental care.
Direct Access Premier offers a larger selection of providers, but those providers charge a little bit more for their services. Members can save 20% to 50% off their dental work.
“Plus” plans include vision, hearing, and Rx discounts. This is a great value if you need discounts in any or all of these areas.
How does this compare to insurance?
Dental insurance can be a great benefit, especially when it is offered through an employer-sponsored plan. However, just like with any product, it may not be the best fit for everyone. Dental insurance requires payment of monthly premiums to have a portion of your dental expenses paid by an insurance company according to the parameters in a policy certificate (i.e. insurance contract). That policy will have limits, maximums, restrictions, excluded services, and potentially waiting periods until certain services may be partially paid for. When consumers add up the total premiums they are paying for the year and compare that with what the insurance company paid on their behalf, they may or may not feel like they are getting a ‘good deal.’
Discount plans are completely different. We negotiate discounted rates with participating dentists based on a large volume of members and then allow members to purchase access to those discounted rates for a membership fee. There is no waiting, no limits on use, no forms to file, and no annual limits. The more you use it the more you save.
We leave it to each individual person to determine which approach is best for them. But, when comparing the real costs of an insurance plan (annual premiums + coinsurance + deductible + the cost of denied claims) with the real costs of a discount plan (membership fee + discounted rates for services received) we have found that many consumers prefer a discount plan for their dental care needs.
Who can join?
Anyone can join Direct Access. There is no pre-approval required and no waiting. As soon as your payment processes and you receive a membership ID, you can start saving on dental care at any participating provider.
What if my dentist isn’t part of the network?
Members only receive discounts at participating providers. Our agreement with the provider is what generates the discounted rates. If we don’t have an agreement, we can’t offer members any discounts.
If your dentist is not in any of our provider networks, feel free to ask them to consider joining. If they would like more information, they can call us at 1-866-696-6527 and we would be happy to discuss the credentialing requirements, etc.
If your dentist doesn’t want to join, don’t be alarmed. Just like there are different prices at different stores for the same goods or services, not every dentist wants to offer discounts on their work. As a consumer, you need to make a decision about how you choose to spend your hard-earned money. Our goal is to empower you with information and let you make the decision. Just know that there are hundreds of thousands of other quality dentists that are willing to offer you discounts on the work that you need.
Why would a dentist give such a big discount?
Great question! This shows that you are starting to think like a savvy consumer.
Dentists only get paid when they are able to perform dental work. A recent consumer report survey found that 43% of respondents delayed dental care because of cost. A dentist needs patients and needs those patients to accept the work that the dentist recommends. Most people are far more likely to go to the dentist and to accept treatment when they are getting a “deal.” More patients and more work accepted are good for the dentist.
Also, there are no forms to file, no insurance company reimbursements, etc. so the administrative work required by the dental office staff is minimal. Dentists simply charge the pre-negotiated rates and arrange payment directly with their patients, which requires less time and administrative expense for the dentist.
Direct Access is intended to be a win-win for both the member and the dentist.
When can I start using the plan?
You can use the membership as soon as your payment is processed and you receive a membership ID number. There is no waiting, so if you sign up today, you can begin using it right away.
How do I join?
Click here, contact your local sales representative, or call our office at 877-966-1010.
I love Direct Access, can I introduce this to my friends/family?
Yes! We love referrals! Just direct them to our website or have them call us at 1-877-966-1010. Our customer service staff is ready and willing to answer any questions that they may have, estimate their potential savings, recommend participating providers, etc.
What is a fee schedule and why it is important?
The value that a discount plan provides is in the discounts negotiated with contracted providers. Giving an arbitrary percentage off may not really provide the savings that you expect since dentists can set their regular fees wherever they would like. There is no ‘standard’ price for dental work. By pre-negotiating actual prices on procedures, Direct Access can offer set prices that are much lower than the average prices in an area and ensure that members get the most value.
Can I use Direct Access with other insurance?
Yes. As a discount plan, Direct Access simply limits the provider to a pre-negotiated schedule of fees. The fee can be paid by you, or by an insurance company, or some combination of the two. If you have other insurance the dentist simply applies that payment to your owing balance. You are responsible for the difference between what the insurance plan paid and the Direct Access contracted price.
What if my dentist has their ‘own plan’ for their office?
This should cause you to ask more questions. Many of ‘in-house’ plans are not in compliance with state statues. But, what is more worrisome is that the plan limits you to just one dental office. What if you have a complex procedure that requires a referral to a specialist? What if you want a second opinion? How do you know that the dentist is really giving you a ‘fair price’ if you have no other dentists to compare to? How do you know that they aren’t just giving a big discount on low-cost procedures (like exams) but charging higher prices on more expensive procedures (like crowns and root canals)?
Direct Access gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you are getting a substantial discount on hundreds of different procedures at hundreds of thousands of locations. It includes BOTH specialists and general dentists so you can save on the care you need, when you need it, from the right provider.
What if I already get a cash discount?
Direct Access members enjoy savings of 20% to 60% or more. “Cash” prices are rarely, if ever this low. Ask yourself, why would a dentist give you the same discount that he gives a ‘pool’ of hundreds of thousands of members? The more members that we can bring to a dental office, the lower the price we can negotiate with each member. Competition in dental care helps you as a consumer. Cutting a ‘cash’ discount between you and your dentist gives you very little power to negotiate. You have no information on whether that cash price is a “good deal” or whether a nearby dentist will do the same thing for less.
Don’t dentists all charge about the same amount?
No! This may come as a surprise to you, but there is no ‘standard’ fee that all dentists charge. Fees can vary widely even in the same community. It is illegal for dentists to compare fees with each other. But, we can negotiate fees at many dental offices and then let you compare the results and make smart decisions.
Why is Direct Access not offered in my state?
Discount dental plans are regulated in each state. There are a few states (Vermont, and Washington) that we have elected not to do business in. However, this can certainly change so check back periodically for updates. Also, if you reside in an approved state and travel into a non-approved state, you can still receive discounts at participating providers in that state. We simply have elected not to sell new memberships in non-approved states.
Why does Direct Access work with multiple networks? (Careington, DenteMax, DentistDirect, etc.)
Our goal is to provide you with valuable discounts at as many contracted locations as possible. We have performed detailed analysis on many dental networks nationwide and are offering both what we found are the strongest discounts (Value plans) and the largest available nationwide networks (Premier Plans). Our goal is to offer plans that facilitate affordable dental care for as many people as we can.