If you own a small business or work as a freelancer, not only are you making all the decisions involving your job, but you will also need to consider how you will pay for needed services like routine dental care. Without insurance, dental appointments and treatment add up quickly.
While brushing and flossing are crucial to maintaining good oral hygiene, having a dentist routinely check your mouth for cavities, gum disease, and other issues prevents a worse problem from developing. Being able to pay for dental care without financially straining your budget will ensure you and your family get the care you need to maintain your oral health.
The Challenges of Dental Care for the Self-Employed
Dental coverage for yourself, your spouse, and your children is important so your oral health is maintained while not depleting your bank account. But being self-employed excludes you from getting better group rates on health insurance.
Dental insurance availability varies depending on where you live in the country. By being self-employed, your options may be more limited, or the premiums may be higher than you can comfortably afford.
Another difficult aspect of being a freelancer is the inconsistency of pay. You may have months with a lot of work and others with little. Paying for dental care out-of-pocket with inconsistent income is challenging. With monthly premiums to pay, it is important to set aside a little extra money during high-earning months so you can cover your payments over the low-earning months.
Adding dental costs or insurance premiums to your long list of needs can be overwhelming if you have just started your small business or have not worked up to a fully sustainable income. Your payments may not be punctual even if you have consistent work. Making adjustments and calculated decisions about what you can afford will prevent you from coming up short each month while still keeping your dentist appointments.
Dental Insurance for Self-Employed Individuals
Dental insurance covers basic dental care expenses, including regular dentist exams, cleanings, and any needed treatment like fillings, crowns, or root canals. Depending on what your needs are, you should make a few decisions before weighing your self-employed dental insurance options. Different options to consider include:
- Adding dental coverage to your medical health insurance plan as a rider. With medical coverage being the primary focus of this plan, you may not get the kind of dental coverage you need. However, if you typically have two appointments with your dentist a year and often get a clean bill of health, this addition of dental coverage may be all you need.
- If you need more coverage or have several children who will also need yearly visits and potentially more dental work done, you can opt for a more tailor-made stand-alone dental insurance option.
- Some independent dental insurance policies cover preventative care completely. If you maintain good oral health, this kind of dental coverage could cause you to pay very little out-of-pocket for dental visits.
- Because you are choosing your plan, you can ensure it has everything you need. If you already have a great relationship with your dentist and you don’t want to change, you can look for a plan that allows you to keep your dentist.
Did you know that with self-employed dental insurance, you may be eligible to deduct the premiums and other dental expenses from your taxes at the end of the year? If you qualify for this deduction, it even applies to dental expenses and premiums for spouses and children. To be eligible to deduct your health and dental insurance costs, you need to have a net gain for the year reported on your 1040 form.
Knowing what benefits you get as a self-employed individual and what considerations you need to make when choosing a dental insurance plan ensures you get the most out of your dental coverage.
Dental Discount Plans: Smile Generation Dental Plan
If you decide not to get traditional dental insurance, other options are available to make sure you save money on dental care. A dental discount plan, also known as a dental savings plan, gives you access to practical and significant discounts on the most common dental services as well as the larger, more costly procedures.
For a monthly fee between $119-$169, depending on if you choose an individual, couple, or family plan, you get extensive discounts at the dentist’s office through Smile Generation Dental Plan, including:
- No cost for exams and x-rays
- No cost for virtual dentist consultations
- Up to 50% off of most dental procedures
- No maximums
- No deductibles
- No waiting periods
Dental Financing Options: Smile Generation Financing
Other ways to pay for dental expenses, whether or not you have dental insurance, are to use Smile Generation’s financing options, such as:
The Smile Generation Financial Credit Card, through Comenity Capital Bank, ensures you always have a way to pay for dental expenses. After a soft credit check, which won’t affect your credit, you can start swiping for all your dental care needs once approved.
You can use the credit card to pay for out-of-pocket expenses at the dentist's office. To avoid accruing interest on your Smile Generation Financial Credit Card, be sure to make your monthly credit card payments.
Payment plans also help you pay for your dental expenses without totally depleting your savings. By using a payment plan, you can break a large dental bill into more affordable monthly payments. Smile Generation offers ScratchPay, where patients choose when and how frequently to pay for the cost of their dental work. Learn more about how dental financing and discount plans can benefit you as a self-employed individual!
If you are considering getting a health care plan, take note if it makes you eligible to open a health savings account (HSA). To qualify for an HSA, your healthcare coverage must be a high deductible healthcare plan. This means you will be paying a low monthly premium but a much higher deductible if you need to use your insurance.
By opening an HSA, you can put money aside for medical and dental expenses each month before taxes are taken out. This lowers the taxes you pay each year while letting you save up money for expenses that may come up.
In addition to tax-free contributions to your HSA, other benefits include:
- Money to pay for copays, deductibles, and treatment costs not covered by your insurance
- Funds not used in your HSA roll over to the next year
- You keep your HSA even if you change jobs
- Use it as a retirement fund — you can use the money in your HSA for more than just medical and dental expenses after you turn 65 years old
Budgeting Strategies for Dental Health
While it may often feel like there is no wiggle room in your budget to set aside some money for dental expenses, sometimes it is just a matter of knowing where to look. Periodically, it is a good idea to re-examine your finances to make sure your money is going where it is needed most. After adding up the bills that are non-negotiable, such as:
- Mortgage or rent
- Car insurance
- Water bill
- Electric bill
- Car payment
Take a look at other expenses that could be reduced, including:
- Money spent eating out
Take the cost of your dental care, either the cost of a monthly premium or the cost of a dental discount plan, and spread the cost out among the parts of your budget that could be tightened here or there.
For example, if you know you can shave $50 off of your monthly grocery bill and you can save $100 of what you normally spend eating out twice a month, then you can put that $150 saved toward keeping your mouth healthy.
In addition to a monthly dental payment, is it always a good idea to have an emergency fund set aside in case an expensive dental problem comes out of the blue. An infected tooth or the need for a root canal can take a big bite out of your budget if you aren’t prepared.
A good goal for the amount of your emergency fund is between $3,000-$5,000. A few ways to create an emergency fund is to:
- Add a savings amount to your monthly budget and treat it like a mandatory bill that comes out before entertainment or non-necessity spending
- Put aside a portion of your tax return
- Set aside money after you sell your house, car, or other big-ticket item
- Save up until you hit your emergency fund goal before you save for other things like a vacation or new furniture
- Clean out your budget of unneeded expenses like hardly used streaming services or subscriptions you no longer need, and set aside what you save
While there are added costs and fewer safety nets for self-employed individuals, Smile Generation can help you spend less on dental expenses while receiving the very best of care.
- "Topic No. 502, Medical and Dental Expenses." IRS, 26 Apr. 2023, https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc502
Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment.