Do you have dental insurance?
Confession time. I haven’t had dental insurance since February of 2010 when I quit my job. Subsequently I haven’t visited the dentist since that time.
I’ve wanted to go a few times, but I either never found the time, or I was scared off by the fear of having to do a crown or something ridiculously expensive. So ignorant, I know.
The lack of insurance is by choice. I could totally afford a small dental policy, but I just haven’t pulled the trigger. From my limited research, you need to have dental insurance at least six months prior to going to the dentist. So, I always put off purchasing insurance because I thought I was about to go to the dentist anyway and it wouldn’t apply.
Additionally, I’m just not sure dental insurance is worth it. It made sense when I had an employer subsidizing half the cost of the plan, but now that I’m solo it’s not a clear financial choice.
I was caught in this crazy downward spiral of no dentist – no insurance – no dentist. About half of U.S. adults appear to be caught in the same spiral:
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, “[i]n 1997, 56% of adults..had some form of dental insurance, compared to 86% who had medical insurance.”
Well, my teeth finally kicked me out of the spiral. Pain beneath one of my crowns forced me to head to the dentist for a cleaning and to check on the crown.
I was prepared to drop a grand on a new crown, but I was hoping for just a cleaning charge from the dental hygienist.
When I arrived I told the receptionist that I wanted to go over costs before any work was done.
She passed this information along to the dental hygienist who quickly ignored it. I forgot as well because I started panicking about pain like I always do at the dentist.
One thing I was conscious enough to notice though was the technological advancements the dental industry has gone through in just the past year. For instance, after x-rays, the hygienist used a small digital camera to look around in my mouth. No more tiny little mirror (what will become of them all? melted down? sad).
Next, and pleasantly so, the hygienist broke out some sort of micro ultrasonic tooth cleaner vs the scraper-pick thing. While I enjoyed the luxurious experience, it made me start thinking about the bill. Surely this new technology was going to cost a fortune?
At the end of the appointment, the hygienist told me (based on the x-ray and cleaning) that nothing was wrong with my crown other than a small infection, which she said would clear up after the cleaning. She then told me she forgot to go over finances so she offered to waive the cost of the x-rays. Sweet savings!
So, at the end of the day I owed $125 (less a $20 credit on my account) for the cleaning and the fluoride.
Not that bad, right? It could have been a lot worse. Now that I have a clean slate I’m thinking of getting dental insurance. I started looking around at dental coverage options and ran some quotes and here’s what I found:
I can get dental insurance for around $25 a month, or $300 a year. But it’s capped at $1000 in coverage a year. I can get a dental discount plan for around $7 a month, or $84 a year. That may be something I look into.
My teeth are prone to needing significant work, so I think it’s at least worth the $84 a year investment, right? At a minimum I need to starting looking into other ways to save on dental care.
What about you? Do you have dental insurance? Is it worth it?