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Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 01:27 PM   #1
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Dental Insurance?

I have not seen many posts (if any) on the subject of dental insurance.* Do most people not bother once in ER?* What do you do?*

We have the company scheme for another 17 months, then we'll be on our own.* By that time our kids will be out of braces (if needed at all) and will probably be sans wisdom (teeth).* For us oldies we shall need to continue with six-monthly check-ups and cleanings - maybe we'll need the odd filling or crown once in a while.*

Are there any horror stories out there of very expensive dental procedures which have to be done?* Is dental insurance worth it if not heavily subsidized by the corporate world?

jj
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 01:42 PM   #2
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Re: Dental Insurance?

I chose not to buy dental insurance after ER. We switched to a cheaper dentist and still go every 6 months for preventative. The only affordable dental insurance I looked at was more like an HMO and the dentists I called were quitting the plan due to low payments.

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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 03:25 PM   #3
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Re: Dental Insurance?

I can only relate my own experience on this. I had dental insurance for a couple of years, but found that it wasn't worthwhile. By the time I added up the cost of premiums and co-payments I might just as well have paid the dentist directly.

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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 04:24 PM   #4
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jj
I have not seen many posts (if any) on the subject of dental insurance. Do most people not bother once in ER? What do you do?
I work for a family-owned small business, which just added dental insurance last year when pops needed some dental work. It worked out great for him, since the total premiums for the entire 8-person office only amounted to something like $1,200 for the whole year...and the dental plan pretty much compensated him for roughly $1,400 worth of dental work. Not to mention giving coverage to everyone else (My $550 in dental expenditures this year were covered to the tune of roughly $350!).

So, if your dentist tells you you need about $4,000 in root canals, hurry up and run out to price up policies! With most plans, you get a certain % coverage for routine cleanings, and a certain % coverage for things like cavities, root canals, etc. Just check what the quote covers.

But, since I take fairly good care of my teeth and have 6 month cleanings, I would definitely NOT have dental coverage automatically renewed each year, whether in ER or not. There might be an issue of getting into a car accident and needing dental surgery, which your health insurance plan may or may not pick up...but that'd be about the only scenario where it might pay off to have it each year (but you could accumulate the premiums each year and most likely come out ahead in the unlikely even you need emergency surgery).
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 04:39 PM   #5
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Re: Dental Insurance?

After much shopping around I selected a dental plan for our office of 15 people. It is actually more expensive than just paying for everyone's dental work, but was simpler than trying to do that.

On my own I would never pay for it - it's about $55 per person per month.
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 05:13 PM   #6
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Re: Dental Insurance?

My denstist just told me that many men on the virge of retirement need four crowns or more. They get their work done at the end, all at once, while they still have coverage.

For us, I do not see the need for dental insurance in retirement. We can pay cash for anything except catastrophic injury.

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Old 11-06-2005, 06:15 PM   #7
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Our dental insurance just expired and will not be renewed via COBRA. Pay as you go from here on out.

Figured nothing life threatening in your teeth so why let an insurance company profit from your premiums.
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 07:36 PM   #8
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jj
I have not seen many posts (if any) on the subject of dental insurance. Do most people not bother once in ER? What do you do?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Peter
I can only relate my own experience on this. I had dental insurance for a couple of years, but found that it wasn't worthwhile. By the time I added up the cost of premiums and co-payments I might just as well have paid the dentist directly.
Yup. Even the govt-sponsored plan is far more expensive than paying the dentist(s) directly for two people of two visits/year each.

Some people (like my spouse) never get cavities. I'm told that it's a mouth/bacteria genetic inheritance. I've had several cavities but none in the last decade (ever since I learned how to floss properly). Both our mothers had severe periodontia but our fathers never had any problems, even cavities.

When we told our pediatric dentist that we were uninsured, his office staff let out a "Whoopee!" and whacked 20% off the bill.

Our dental "insurance" plans had heavy deductibles for orthodontia. Even with full insurance they'd only pay about $1500 of the total cost, so we would have forked over $3000 (at a minimum) of the full retail price with its monthly payment plan. We negotiated with the orthodontist and managed to get five boat payments 10% off the bill by paying the two-year plan up front. Paying that with a rebate credit card saved another month of dental-insurance premiums.

Spouse gets her dental care through the Navy Reserve, but they never do more than an annual cleaning. So far in ER my uninsured dental care has cost $120. Our kid has chewed through (so to speak) $900 at the pediatric dentist and another $4260 at the orthodontist. Dental insurance for us would have cost $65/month in mid-2002 and went up to $73/month last May. So far we've avoided $2850 in premiums and, even including all orthodontia expenses and assuming our insurance premiums remain flat, at our present rate of treatment we'll be permanently ahead of the game in another three years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jj
Are there any horror stories out there of very expensive dental procedures which have to be done?
I've been told that many people's mouths slow their decay activity in their 40s. I don't know if the bacteria give up or if their body chemistry is more effective at stopping decay, but there's much less dental activity after that third decade is over. Your mileage may vary but it's held true for me. I got a clean bill of health at my last active-duty exam (age 41) and didn't go to a dentist for two years. He didn't find anything, either, so I'll go again at the next two-year point (in a couple months).

I'm a big believer in flossing, especially since it took dentists several tries to teach me how to do it right. I've had zero cavities since I started flossing 3-4x/week and using a fluoride rinse (Hawaii does not fluoridate the water supply). My biggest problem was a sensitive filling for about a week after I stopped a hook kick with my chin. Otherwise no horror stories here.

My mother claimed her periodontia came from years of poor dental cleanings (and no flossing). She was also a heavy smoker & drinker (like everyone else in the 1950s/60s). My father had so few dental problems (and knew so little about dentists) that he was talked into having all four of his wisdom teeth removed in one visit, which of course he paid for dearly during recovery. My mother-in-law appears to have lost the genetic lottery but as far as we can tell the bad genes weren't passed on. My father-in-law has never had a cavity and just stops by the dentist every couple of years for a checkup. I don't think he even gets a cleaning.

I've known a couple shipmates who religiously avoided all dentists. They paid for it at their retirement physicals when they started having root canals. One of them had one per week for six weeks and might as well have been on retirement leave with all his recovery time, but no one envied him. But they were lifetime smokers, tobacco chewers, coffee drinkers (with sugar) and didn't brush very often, let alone floss...

Quote:
Originally Posted by jj
Is dental insurance worth it if not heavily subsidized by the corporate world?
Unless you have a mouth full of periodontia problems or crowns/root canals, I'm thinking "no". I bet even corporations lose money at their group rate, since our govt TRICARE dental premiums were pretty much equivalent to a year's worth of checkups & cleanings.
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 09:42 PM   #9
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Thank you one and all for replying.* Lots to think about here, as usual.* None of this is cut and dried.* One thing I think I must do the next time any of us goes to the dentist is ask how much those services would cost without insurance.* It's amazing to me how lax I am about checking on costs when the insurance company is picking up (most of) the tab.* If I can get a 20% discount straight off the top for our usual cleaning, bite-wings and check-up it may be worth just allocating that cost as a +/- fixed amount in our expenses every six months.* As with your family Nords, we all have a completely different dental histories.* With three kids from the same two parents it's difficult to believe what different dental set up they have.* Our eldest has small teeth with gaps between, has not needed braces and has just had all 4 wisdom teeth out (the bottom two looked to be coming in sideways on the x-ray) - no problem at all with cavities.* The middle one has huge teeth and looked to have minimal room, although after braces his teeth look great, and he didn't have to have extractions.* He will likely need his wisdom teeth out at some point; one cavity in his baby teeth.* Our youngest has had horrible problems with cavities and although I blame it on his brushing skills and frequently hi-jack him in the bathroom with his toothbrush to have a go myself - I believe it may be down to his personal body chemistry.* Our pediatric dentist once said that some people tend to get cavities while others are prone to gum disease.*

I think most dental plans have a lifetime maximum payout of $1500 per person for orthodontia.* Ours does, we have used it for the middle child.* I shall have to look up how much we actually paid.* (Over $2500, I think.)* It was relatively cost effective for us as we used pre-tax "flex" a/c money.* Incidentally, does anyone know if dental payments count for the more than 7.5% over AGI for claiming against taxes?

On balance, it looks like everyone is who is on their own self insures, while those with small businesses have found suitable policies, which can be cost effective for individuals if there are large claims.* We shall have to look at this carefully - DH is reluctant to do anything hasty with any of the insurance and errs on the side of keeping up with it at least for the time being.*

jj


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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 10:09 PM   #10
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Just so happens that our picture of the week this week, is a ‘menu’ of dental pricing in Chiang Mai, Thailand* http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/ You must check this out.* *

Although I fully realize that children’s orthodontia is a different ballgame, I would seriously consider Thailand for dental treatments. – Now, before anyone goes whining, saying “I can’t go there for dental treatment, for crying out loud… ” consider this:

A friend of ours was just quoted in the states $3,000 per gold crown, and he needed 2. He came to Thailand and had both gold crowns done for $600. (US). The savings paid for his airline ticket, plus he got a ‘vacation’ out of the deal… (and happy hours with us!)*

I would also seriously consider dental implants here in Thailand if I needed them…* It is in a clean and professional environment. Check out the Bangkok Dental Spa Link on* our site:* http://www.retireearlylifestyle.com/...e_er_links.htm They have a whole different attitude here about medical services. It is worth consideration if you need extensive work done.* 8) Retired or not!

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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 10:21 PM   #11
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Wow, thanks for your post Akaisha.* I would never have thought of doing that, but it's something to consider.

jj
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 10:27 PM   #12
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Re: Dental Insurance?

You are very welcome, jj...*

Sometimes we gotta think out of the box.* Personally, I have "teeth issues" so in some respects, I am an "expert"*

I have spent so many hours in a dentist's chair from childhood, braces, root canals, bridges, crowns, pins -- you get the idea.* So this is a subject close to my heart!* 8)

When I was working, and when we first retired, I checked into dental insurance, but for what I needed, it wasn't worth it at the time.

Great thread, very good questions! Thanks, jj!*

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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-06-2005, 11:23 PM   #13
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Hi JJ--

I have had university paid health and dental. I pay $58.00 a month for me and DW for dental. I have zero cavities and am a fanatic about my teeth. I get them cleaned twice a year and xrayed once.

I told the dentist I was retiring and asked did he think I should continue the coverage. To his credit, he said no. I would pay far less than the yearly premium for all the work done. Besides, living this close to Mexico, it is easy to go and have work done cheaply and safely. Most dentists and doctors are educated in the US. Costs are a fraction of costs here. in the states.

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Old 11-07-2005, 12:38 AM   #14
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Re: Dental Insurance?

I also hear that many retired/snowbird people head
down to Mexico for dental services. A good source of
references are RV travelers.
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-07-2005, 08:47 AM   #15
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Re: Dental Insurance?

We really lucked out with regard to dental insurance. My wife's teaching job allowed her to enroll in Aetna dental coverage for the family for $33 a month. It paid 100% for almost all dental work including gold fillings, crowns, root canals, etc. Now that she is retired the school system picks up even more of the costs (she now pays $15 a month!). We have never had a year where the benefits did not exceed the costs of coverage. This has saved us a bundle over the years as we have both needed several crowns that cost > $1000 each.

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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-17-2005, 08:36 PM   #16
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Re: Dental Insurance?

$3000 bucks for an all gold crown?


i think i need to move to where your friend lives..

fwiw,
i'm a dentist...and i charge about $5 to 6 hundred for bucks.
if you REALLY wanted to save a couple bucks....go to a dental school.
you may find fixed units as low as $300.

however, thailand does have better pad thai than most dental offices
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Re: Dental Insurance?
Old 11-18-2005, 01:08 AM   #17
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is not a very good deal for employers nor insurance companies.

Generally dental insurance isn't worth the premiums because unlike medical insurance, which most people need to use sometimes, dental work is something most people need all the time.

Time to brush my teeth and go to bed
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Old 11-18-2005, 02:15 PM   #18
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Re: Dental Insurance?

I just paid $145 for cleaning and his new "digital" xrays. We go twice a year, and do not think that the insurance is worth it, either.
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Old 11-18-2005, 03:00 PM   #19
 
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Re: Dental Insurance?

Insurance should be used to protect you from rare but catastrophic losses* (house burns to the ground, heart transplant).* If you try to use insurance to subsidize smaller expenses, you will usually be wasting a lot of money.*

IOW, chances are that the premiums will be more than your payouts.* Otherwise the insurance company wouldn't make money.*

For catastrophic losses, it makes sense even if you will probably lose money, since the consequences of a big loss are too great.

So if you can afford to absorb the cost of some major dental work or a car accident, you are probably (probabalistically) better off with no insurance.
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Old 11-22-2005, 01:08 PM   #20
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Re: Dental Insurance?

I've received a few quotes from dental clinics in Thailand for a 3-unit bridge. This is the Procera system, which is top-notch zirconia, biocompatible material etc. My holistic dentist here wants about $2500 for it, vs. around $1200 in Thailand. And I'll bet if I actually went there, I'd find it cheaper. Also, since this product comes from europe, the foreign content makes it more expensive (vs. proceddures that are higher labor content or locally-sourced).

I agree that $3000 is way high for a crown. About 5 years ago I found a semi-holistic dentist in FL to do a high-noble gold crown for me for around $500 or 600. (I told him that I was unemployed and he lowered the price from about $800).
Watch out for the standard gold crowns they sell you -most are quite low in gold and high in toxic metals like palladium etc.

-m
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