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If you received a federal tax refund this year, you are among the nearly 8 in 10 U.S. tax filers who received one. So, what’s the best way to spend it? On car repairs or a much-needed vacation? As a deposit in your savings account or as an extra student loan or credit card payment?
The answer depends entirely on you, of course. However, we would like to suggest one smart way to use some or all of your tax refund (for the record, in recent years, the average tax refund has been $2,800): Buy a dental insurance plan.
It may not seem like the most exciting way to use your refund, but it could help you save money on dental care this year.
On average, the annual dental expense for Americans younger than age 65 is $683—this includes children. For adults 65 and older, the average annual dental expense is $833. For preventive care alone, Americans paid an average of $370 out of pocket for two exams and cleanings and a full set of X-rays in 2011.
In comparison, the average (i.e., dental insurance premium) cost for individual and family dental insurance plans through healthedeals.com is around $30 per month, which is about $360 per year. It has been about seven years since the National Association of Dental Plans collected national data for estimated average monthly and annual dental premiums—the 2009 data shows that individual and family dental insurance premiums ranging from $4 to $15 and $20 to $35, an annual average of $48 to $180 for individuals and $240 to $420 for families.
Obamacare may not require you to have dental coverage, but dental coverage can help your oral health as well as your household’s bottom line.
In addition to potential savings on dental visits, dental insurance can make you more likely to visit the dentist in the first place. Studies show that Americans are more likely to seek dental services when they have dental benefits.
If you have healthy teeth and gums, preventive dental exams and cleanings can help you keep them that way., And, maintaining good oral health could mean you spend less on dental services such as fillings and root canals. Because dental benefits are largely related to preventive care, many dental plans cover two annual exams and cleanings at or near 100 percent—some even cover a set of X-rays and pediatric sealants at or near 100 percent as well.
Dental plans vary, but generally include several options to meet your budgetary and oral care needs. In addition to plan premiums, copay and coinsurance amounts, preventive care benefits, networks, and waiting periods, look for plans that have additional discounts for services you may use (e.g., vision care and orthodontia).
Call the number at the top of your screen to speak with a certified advisor who can answer your questions and help you select a dental plan.
 Sahadi, Jeanne. “Nearly 8 Out of 10 U.S. Taxpayers Get Refunds.” CNN Money. Jan. 15, 2015. http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/13/pf/taxes/taxpayer-refunds/
 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Dental Services-Mean and Median Expenses per Person with Expense and Distribution of Expenses by Source of Payment: United States, 2013. Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component Data. Generated interactively. Accessed on April 14, 2016.
 American Dental Association. “2011 Survey of Dental Fees.” December 2011. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/11_sdf.ashx
 Numbers based on IHC Specialty Benefits dental insurance plan data for all plans.
 National Association of Dental Plans. “What Do Dental Benefits Cost on a Group Basis or If I Buy Them Directly as an Individual.” http://www.nadp.org/Dental_Benefits_Basics/Dental_BB_7.aspx
 Bloom, Barbara, et al. “Dental Insurance for Persons Under Age 65 Years with Private Health Insurance: United States, 2008.” NCHS Data Brief. No. 40. June 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db40.pdf
 American Dental Association. “Gum Disease.” http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease