Many people in our area are not covered by dental insurance. Several times a month, we hear patients wondering if they should buy dental insurance coverage before they proceed with their dental work. This article will help you understand how dental insurance coverage works, and in what situations it can benefit you.
We all know that insurance companies have developed a reputation for putting themselves before their customers. In reality, the customer for a dental insurance company is the employer who purchases a group insurance plan. With the pressures on business from the high costs of medical insurance, dental insurance plans have suffered badly for several years. In addition, more employers are offering dental insurance to their employees only if the employee pays for all or part of the premium. So when is dental insurance advantageous?
Dental insurance is probably an excellent help if your employer covers the premium completely. However, unlike medical insurance, most dental insurance plans only cover a maximum of $1,000 per year. You may find it interesting that when the first dental insurance plans were offered around 1960, the average annual benefit was … $1,000 a year. So accounting for inflation since 1960, today’s plans over less than $150 in 1960 dollars. For patients that come into our office with more expensive problems, I like to tell my patients to consider their dental insurance as a $1,000 off coupon, rather than dental “insurance.”
But let’s say you have to pay for part or all of your insurance premium, or your employer doesn’t offer dental insurance and you are thinking about purchasing an individual plan. For the insurance company to make a profit, they must charge enough premiums to cover your dental work, plus administrative fees, plus their profit. If you must pay all of the premiums on your own, this makes it unlikely you can come out ahead. If your employer pays for part of your benefits, the dental insurance might still be beneficial, but you’ll have to do some calculations.
Take some time to calculate how much you’ll pay in benefits per year, and compare that amount to the cost of your “two free cleanings and exams.” In addition, if you are enrolling for the first time, you may have a waiting period before major work is completed, so that you’ve paid more insurance premiums before getting to enjoy many of the benefits of the plan.
See also, Dr. Moorhead's aticle about the benefits of Health Savings Accounts that can provide tax-deductible benefits to pay for medical and dental expenses. In addition, don’t forget that our office offers extended payment arrangements using several outside firms, so that your dentistry can be handled affordably.
Dr. Moorhead and his team write about dental news, and answer patient questions.