LOCKPORT – A dental coverage plan endorsed by the New York State Association of Counties wants permission to begin offering its services in Niagara County.

Eric R. Lintala of Health Economics Group pitched the Dental Card program to a County Legislature committee last week, which set the matter aside for further discussion.

The program, already available in eight counties including Orleans, Chautauqua and Monroe, allows the otherwise uninsured to save money on dental services if they use a dentist in the program’s network.

It’s a national network called DenteMax, and about 90 dentists in Niagara County are part of it, Lintala said.

“This is not insurance,” he said. Rather, it’s a discount card program that costs the resident $36.50 a year for individual coverage or $52 a year for family coverage.

By using the discount card, the resident can save 20 percent, 30 percent or more on dental services.

“This fee schedule’s better than what most” dental insurance groups are paying, Lintala said. “Twenty-eight percent of New Yorkers have an unfilled cavity in their mouths right now that they’re not getting filled because they don’t like dentists or can’t afford to go.”

The concept is similar to the ProAct prescription discount card that the county began offering a few years ago, although that comes with no fee. It also was aimed at saving money for the uninsured or underinsured.

“Anybody can sign up,” Lintala said. In the eight counties that have joined the program, 15,000 people have paid the fee and signed up.

The sponsorship would cost the county no money, but it would enable the organization to put out brochures with county logos. It also would allow the county to promote the card; for example, with the services already provided by the Office for the Aging.