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Dental Insurance
Old 01-16-2010, 12:14 AM   #1
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Dental Insurance

Do you have dental insurance?

Insurance sure doesn't seem to cover that much. My annual premium is about $40 a month. I'm on a four month recall for cleaning so one of these visits I'm paying on my own. At least I was happy that one time last year I had to go and get a new crown and the insurance paid for some of this.

I got a dental visit on Monday (that will be me smiling after the teeth cleaning)
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:34 AM   #2
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No Dental Insurance. Had it at megacorp, as it was subsidized then.

But decided that Dental Insurance was too expensive for us on our own. I have had one root canal and crown on my own, and we have the usual cleanings and occasional x-rays.

We figured our financial-disaster exposure was much much higher on medical. Even though both of us are in great health, who knows. In comparison, we figured our exposure on dental was relatively low.

I gave up opening bottles with my teeth
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:19 AM   #3
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From all the plans I've seen, dental insurance makes little to no financial sense unless you have employer-based group coverage. Which makes sense, since outside an employer group the people who would carry dental insurance are generally those who intend to use it to the fullest.
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Old 01-16-2010, 06:51 AM   #4
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We have the option to participate in a group plan at work, but I do not. My long time dentist does not take the insurance offered, and from what I can see, very few dentists do take this particular plan.
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Old 01-16-2010, 07:48 AM   #5
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Dental is generally one of the most profitable, low risk types of insurance that an insurer can write on a group basis. What does that tell you?
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:15 AM   #6
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I only use insurance to protect against catastrophic costs, never to save money.
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Old 01-16-2010, 09:39 AM   #7
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We have dental insurance through cobra for another 14 months, around $35/person/month. You can be sure we will be getting our money's worth out of it during that time.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:22 AM   #8
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Dental is generally one of the most profitable, low risk types of insurance that an insurer can write on a group basis. What does that tell you?
It tells me two things:

1 -- on an individual policy level, it's probably a sucker bet for those who are capable of self-insuring up to the policy annual maximum (usually only $1000 to $1500);

2 -- in a group plan, particularly an employer plan, the dentophobes who carry dental but almost never go to the dentist are subsidizing the risk pool for those who get checkups and dental maintenance religiously.

We pay about $35 a month for both of us, with checkups, cleanings and (less frequently) X-rays covered first dollar and a $1500 per persom maximum. That makes financial sense for us, especially given these can be paid pre-tax in an employer cafeteria benefits plan and the usual 7.5% of AGI requirement of Schedule A doesn't apply, but if we no longer had good, subsidized Megacorp coverage we'd be self-insuring our dental.

My wife is getting an implant for a top front tooth (#9) and we were able to maximize our benefits by scheduling it to have our dentist do the first phase of the work in 2009 and the second phase in 2010. Since this was about a $4000 procedure in all and my insurance pays 50% for most implant costs, we were able to have insurance pay out close to $1000 in each of two years. But that was an unusual exception, and even then most individual insurances (and many group plans) don't cover implants at all.
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Old 01-16-2010, 10:53 AM   #9
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$20 a month for two people through Megacorp retiree plan. Pays $1500 per person maximum. We seem to use every dollar of the benefits each year.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:13 AM   #10
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We just canceled ours – partly to offset the 32% increase in healthcare premium (80% now over 2 years). I first discussed with our dentist – she was very helpful. Insurance limits procedures and total yearly payout so it’s real benefit is access to insurance-negotiated pricing, and the cash discount she offers – combined with the premiums, it should make up the difference.

Unless heavily subsidized, I think it’s not a good deal.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:32 AM   #11
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We just canceled ours – partly to offset the 32% increase in healthcare premium (80% now over 2 years). I first discussed with our dentist – she was very helpful. Insurance limits procedures and total yearly payout so it’s real benefit is access to insurance-negotiated pricing, and the cash discount she offers – combined with the premiums, it should make up the difference.

Unless heavily subsidized, I think it’s not a good deal.
You bring up a good point: some of the benefit of insurance can be offset if your dentist will offer a discount for cash payment up front.
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Old 01-16-2010, 11:45 AM   #12
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You bring up a good point: some of the benefit of insurance can be offset if your dentist will offer a discount for cash payment up front.
Our dentist gives a "double discount". Cash, for sure; being "older than dirt" (e.g. past the age of 60, and retired) is the other ...

BTW, when I retired (almost three years ago), my company plan paid for my/DW's dental. I kept it the first 18 months (under COBRA) but found that it wasn’t worth the premiums we were paying - especially for the co-pay amounts under "high priced" services.

So today, we just pay-as-we-go. Nothing changed from when we were newly married 40 years ago, and had no benefits (health care, anyway )...
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:52 PM   #13
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I do not consider dental insurance as true insurance (despite it's name). It's more like a prepayment plan. Insurance generally covers the unknown (death, sickness, auto accident, fire), but with dental you pretty-much know that you are going to have you teeth cleaned every 6 mionths or so etc. if your coverage has that feature, as most do.
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Old 01-16-2010, 12:55 PM   #14
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From all the plans I've seen, dental insurance makes little to no financial sense unless you have employer-based group coverage. Which makes sense, since outside an employer group the people who would carry dental insurance are generally those who intend to use it to the fullest.

Bummer...so, what you are saying is that the only thing that individual dental insurance insures is that you'll end up losing money?

I did some comparison for my own case. Last year I paid out a total of $758, that was for the premium and copayments. Had I paid everything out of pocket instead, the total would have been $615. So, for the year I was under by $143.

I did have a little more dental work than just routine cleanings and x-rays.

I think if I used a DHMO, I might come out ahead but I really like my dentist who is not under a DHMO.
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Old 01-16-2010, 01:04 PM   #15
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From all the plans I've seen, dental insurance makes little to no financial sense unless you have employer-based group coverage..

YES
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:08 PM   #16
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I think it is kinda like extended warranties - by definition they need to pay put less than they take in to make a profit. So, statistically, you are going to come out behind. Of course, everyone hopes they will be the exception.
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:28 PM   #17
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I think it is kinda like extended warranties - by definition they need to pay put less than they take in to make a profit. So, statistically, you are going to come out behind. Of course, everyone hopes they will be the exception.
Well, not quite everyone. I have dental insurance through MegaCorp's subsidized retiree plan. Wouldn't have it otherwise. But every year I hope I have absolutely no need for it other than routine checkup/cleaning, which turns out roughly breakeven money wise. Absoultely don't want to have a need for dental work just to be able to say I collected more than I paid in! It's NOT a good thing to need your dental insurance!
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Old 01-16-2010, 04:56 PM   #18
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I had it a megacorp but not since I left. I do have a discount dental plan for about $100/year, however. It is not insurance, but gets me negotiated rates. I found it saves me money even if I just go to the dentist for routine visits 2x/year.

I wasn't planning on researching or buying a discount plan, but was unhappy when my dentist would not give me any kind of cash discount. I was pretty surprised at how much higher the non-negotiated rates were.
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Old 01-16-2010, 05:47 PM   #19
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I like my dental ins, through my employer. Only $9 a month, for free cleanings twice a year, bitewing xrays once a year and panoramic xrays every x years ( I think 2).


All the "preventative" stuff (cleanings, xrays, end exams) is 100 percent covered. Any real work is only partially covered, though. Crowns are 50 percent, fillings are 70 percent or something like that.

Whenever I use it for real work, I do get a significant bill from the dentist for the unpaid balance, but it is worth the low $9 monthly premium.

I only go every 3 years or so, anyway. My teeth don't get much tartar buildup, luckily, and very few new cavities.
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Old 01-16-2010, 07:59 PM   #20
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DW gets dental insurance in retirement from her former school system. From what others have described here, we must have the best dental insurance deal in the world. She pays $16/month (withheld from her pension) which covers us both. The insurance pays 90% of everything including crowns. My fed BCBS picks up most of the rest. We have both had several crowns in the last few years that would have cost close to $1000 each without the insurance.
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