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Old 07-31-2012, 08:56 AM
 
5,254 posts, read 3,902,670 times
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Why should I even bother to purchase dental insurance? Sure they pay to get your teeth cleaned a couple times a year, but try and get most anything else done and you run into high deductibles, low maximum benefits and low percentages paid. People are up in arms all the time over the things that are denied by medical insurance. Dental is twice as bad! Is there any really good dental insurance out there that actually pays for things above and beyond routine cleanings?
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:33 AM
 
Location: In a house
13,262 posts, read 33,655,383 times
Reputation: 20198
Quote:
Originally Posted by UNC4Me View Post
Why should I even bother to purchase dental insurance? Sure they pay to get your teeth cleaned a couple times a year, but try and get most anything else done and you run into high deductibles, low maximum benefits and low percentages paid. People are up in arms all the time over the things that are denied by medical insurance. Dental is twice as bad! Is there any really good dental insurance out there that actually pays for things above and beyond routine cleanings?
There are dental insurance policies that cover more, or save money in other ways. The problem is the expense of the plan, vs. the benefit to the insured isn't always very well balanced. If you have dental through your employer, it is possible to be a lot cheaper in the long run, than not having any insurance at all and paying cash.

Some examples, using my own dental insurance:

We pay I think $7 every week for 2 people combined (that's $3.50 per person). For that, we get twice-yearly checkups, once-yearly bitewings, one full set of x-rays OR one panoramic set every 2 years, and we pay 20% of the cost. There is zero deductible for our plan; we pay something, no matter what.

We -also- get drill-and-fill cavity service, extractions, and we can also get one full set of dentures, lifetime, for each of us. We get relines at 50% of whatever is a customary fee for in-network dentists.

We *also* only have to pay, out of pocket, whatever the network dentist agrees to charge as the insurance company's table of customary fees.

What this means:

Normally the dentist charges $5000 for a 3-tooth bridge. That's what he charges people who have no insurance, or if the patient has insurance, but the dentist isn't a participating provider in that plan.

But because he IS a participating provider in MY plan, he is only allowed to charge me $3700 for the bridge. That is a savings to me, of $1300 for that one bridge. Yes, I have to pay 100% of it, because the procedure isn't covered. But I only have to pay 100% of $3700, not of the $5000 he normally charges.

Plans like this are pretty typical, and generally have low caps for what the insurance company covers. But in the case of the bridge, the savings of $1300 has no cap, because the insurance company isn't paying anything for it. They're merely dictating what the dentist can charge me.

So, I have a cap on what the insurance company will pay for fillings, bitewings, checkups, etc. etc...because the insurance pays the dentist a portion of those fees. But for things I have to pay 100% on, there's no cap at all. The dentist has to continue charging me the discounted price, as long as they participate in my insurance company's policy.
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Old 07-31-2012, 09:41 AM
 
Location: Outer Space
1,525 posts, read 3,290,662 times
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I think if you have group coverage through work, dental insurance isn't great, but a good discount plan. Most plans don't go over $2k a year in total payments period. I have good group coverage, but I have to save money for what is not covered. My husband and I have mediocre teeth and we have had several root canals and crowns between us this year. Maxed out our plans in March. But we still had to pay around $2300 out of pocket. However, $4000 of entire work was covered by insurance we pay $8 a month for through his employer.

If you have to buy it on your own, then it is probably better just to open up a savings account and throw money in there every month. The math is bad to buy it on your own given most individual plans max out at only $1500 in yearly coverage and the premiums tend to be steep. There are also year long waiting periods for things like root canals, which doesn't help you if you need it NOW or within the next few months tops. You would be better off just saving the money yourself in the best yielding savings account you can find and/or subscribing to a dental discount plan through Aetna or so.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:21 PM
 
14,426 posts, read 28,946,531 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonnenwende View Post
I think if you have group coverage through work, dental insurance isn't great, but a good discount plan. Most plans don't go over $2k a year in total payments period. I have good group coverage, but I have to save money for what is not covered. My husband and I have mediocre teeth and we have had several root canals and crowns between us this year. Maxed out our plans in March. But we still had to pay around $2300 out of pocket. However, $4000 of entire work was covered by insurance we pay $8 a month for through his employer.

If you have to buy it on your own, then it is probably better just to open up a savings account and throw money in there every month. The math is bad to buy it on your own given most individual plans max out at only $1500 in yearly coverage and the premiums tend to be steep. There are also year long waiting periods for things like root canals, which doesn't help you if you need it NOW or within the next few months tops. You would be better off just saving the money yourself in the best yielding savings account you can find and/or subscribing to a dental discount plan through Aetna or so.
I agree with you. We do have a discount plan through my husband's job, and it did save me money from a participating dentist when I had to have an enormous amount of reconstructive work.

I am, however, starting a savings account for future work because any way you look at it dental work is expensive. If you do have to buy it on your own, I agree it's probably just better to save up and negotiate with the dentist of your choice for cash.
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Old 07-31-2012, 02:27 PM
 
Location: Prospect, KY
5,288 posts, read 17,208,334 times
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My husband just had a crown replaced - it cost us $350 - not bad at all. Check-ups (including x-rays and cleanings are free. I'm very grateful for our dental insurance.
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Old 08-07-2012, 12:44 PM
 
Location: Bakersville, NC
61 posts, read 81,185 times
Reputation: 90
Always depends on your plan...we have a decent plan and actually got into funny argument with my dentist about a crown I had last year. Most plans pay 50%, but ours pays 80%. So in the end it only cost me around $175.
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Old 08-07-2012, 02:26 PM
 
Location: Colorado Plateau
1,133 posts, read 3,083,285 times
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My job offers dental coverage for $27.00/mo but I didn't take it. For $300/yr it covers cleanings 100% and other procedures 50-80%, if it covers it. Maybe not much cost savings really. I'd rather skip paying United Health and pay directly to a local business, keeping my money at home, even if it costs me more.

I just went and had a cleaning done. I had not had one done in 3 years. The last one was at a local low-income clinic dental office. My teeth were mostly fine. I payed out of pocket $250 (cleaning, xrays, exam) and felt that I got excellent care and service in a professional office, it was better than the clinic. I'm usually a very frugal person but I was ok with this cost.

I have a set of bridges, one on each side in the back, that I had put on in 1991. I payed out of pocket then and my very nice dentist charged me only $1000/each for them. A great deal even at that time. They have been mostly trouble-free. One of the abutment teeth on one of the bridges has gum recession going on and needs a gum graft to preserve the tooth. I'm going to have that done very soon. I'm looking at maybe $900 for it. I'm ok with that. I have the money set aside for it already. I look at it this way: that $2000 amortized over 20 years is pretty cheap for problem free teeth. Another $1000 added to that is still a good deal. Bridges now are $3000 each. If I lose that tooth to gum recession it's a good $5000 to fix it back up (implants?).

The dentist did say that I have a tooth with a large filling that may need a crown replaced, next year maybe. $1100.

I still think I'm getting off pretty cheap with dental care.
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Old 08-07-2012, 02:38 PM
 
Location: California
29,194 posts, read 31,029,787 times
Reputation: 24235
When I had it paid by the employer (100%) it was fine but when I lost that even my dentist office said it wasn't worth buying private. There are some cheap HMO style plans but in my area the choice of dentists is limited to only a few within a 30 mile radius who have horrible reviews on Yelp so I'll stick with my own and pay cash.
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Old 09-12-2012, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Sherman Oaks, CA
6,179 posts, read 14,752,348 times
Reputation: 7918
I wish I had seen this thread this morning before I started my own! Oops.

Yes, I'm wondering, "Why bother?" as well. Since the coverage is capped at $1,500 per year, I can basically get one or two teeth worked on per year, and that's it - at least for major work, like crowns or root canals, which are covered at 50%.

I checked into individual coverage, and started laughing. Want a root canal? You have to wait a year - and that entire time, you're still paying the premiums! I realize there ain't no free lunch, but better coverage (a cap of $3,000 per year, maybe) would go a long way towards making me feel better. I'm fortunate that I have the savings to pay for the work I've had done, but I'm probably going to pay between $1,500 and $2,000 to have two teeth worked on (two crowns and one root canal).
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:31 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles area
14,022 posts, read 16,457,152 times
Reputation: 32124
Default Let's analyze the whole business of dental insurance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UNC4Me View Post
Why should I even bother to purchase dental insurance? Sure they pay to get your teeth cleaned a couple times a year, but try and get most anything else done and you run into high deductibles, low maximum benefits and low percentages paid. People are up in arms all the time over the things that are denied by medical insurance. Dental is twice as bad! Is there any really good dental insurance out there that actually pays for things above and beyond routine cleanings?
When we have liability insurance for our cars and fire insurance for our houses, the idea is that we are protecting ourselves against a catastrophic loss. So the insurance companies figure out the chances of having to pay claims and charge premiums accordingly. Those kinds of losses are relatively rare.

Now think about dental insurance. Utilizing dental services is, by contrast, not at all rare. If a person is smart, he will get two cleanings a year, whether covered by insurance or not. Such things as fillings and crowns (often called caps or restorations), while not necessarily yearly occurrences, are certainly not at all rare either. Insurance companies take all that into account and have to calculate how to structure their premiums, co-pays, and yearly caps in order to make a profit.

Your complaints about dental insurance seem rather absurd when viewed against that background. How could dental insurance possibly be other than it is? Perhaps you are thinking about people who have much better coverage because their employer is paying a large part of the premium on their behalf; the more the employer is willling to pay, the better the coverage. But if you are talking about individual, private dental insurance, then it's probably true that it's nor "worth it". After all, your premiums have to cover all the claims paid for, so you are either paying for them through the premiums or out of pocket, or both. There is no such thing as a free lunch, yet you seem to be saying you expect one from dental insurance.
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