The average $1,500 to $7,500 per-tooth cost for dental implants are a 100 percent out-of-pocket expense for the uninsured and for those whose insurance excludes implant procedures. Some insurers will pay a portion of the costs; however, some plans exclude dental implants completely. If you can't afford to pay the bill in a lump sum from savings, a number of financing options are available.
How Dental Insurance Works with Implant Surgery
Each dental implant involves five surgical procedures, each of which has a separate insurance billing code. While most insurers pay 60 percent to 80 percent for a tooth extraction -- the first procedure -- it's the type of plan, not the insurer, that determines whether or how much your dental insurance will pay for the four remaining procedures. These are:
- Bone graft -- this procedure prepares the bone for the implant.
- Dental implant -- this procedure involves placing the implant in the gum and underlying bone
- Custom or Prefabricated Abutment -- this procedure involves securing a connector on top of the dental implant
- Abutment-retained Crown - this procedure involves securing the new tooth into the implant
Your chance of not having to finance the entire cost is often better if you have a Preferred Provider Organization -- PPO -- dental plan. Although most insurers exclude dental implant procedures as a basic or restorative care service, according to Dr. Steven Polevoy, a New York-based family dentist, some plans may foot up to 50 percent of the bill, up to your yearly maximum, if the plan covers implant procedures under the major medical portion of the plan.
Timing with Insurance Coverage
Dental implants usually take about nine months from start to finish. If you can spread the procedures out over two billing years, coverage up to the yearly maximum will double.
Health Savings Account
Dental implants are an IRS-approved HSA medical expense. The "catch" is that you must have high-deductible medical insurance to qualify to set up a tax-free health savings account. According to BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, the deductible for these plans is at least $1,250 for individual coverage or $2,500 for family coverage. However, you don't have to maintain dental insurance to fund dental implants with HSA funds. Additionally, the money you invest doesn't expire at the end of each calendar year.
Credit Cards and Loans
General and health-care credit cards, and personal or home equity loans are additional financing options.
- With a credit card, a balance transfer with an interest-free promotional period can be useful if you can pay the balance before the promotional period ends. If you can't, the company may charge interest retroactively starting from the first month. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, this is a common practice with healthcare credit cards.
- Personal loan options include both personal loans and health-care installment loans. Interest rates for these range from about 3.99 percent to more than 40 percent depending on your credit score and the loan amount. According to Dear Doctor, Inc., one advantage a health-care installment often provides is a longer loan term -- usually up to 84 months -- than a personal loan.
- You can also use a home equity loan or line of credit to pay for dental implants.
Funding dental implants with a 401(k) or other retirement plan withdrawal is generally not a good option. Although you can withdraw funds to pay for dental implants, the withdrawal will likely not qualify as a hardship disbursement. This means you’ll be responsible for paying taxes and a 10 percent penalty on the money.