May 04 2011

Evaluating new dental insurance

Our dental insurance at Shane’s company is pretty good. It costs $34/month for our family. Last year, Shane had his wisdom teeth removed and our end of the bill wasn’t much, thankfully.

But Shane’s new employer? The dental insurance there will cost our family $92/month. Excuse me?! And there are still co-pays involved for some things, and it doesn’t cover everything in full. I think there are plenty more options we can pursue for our family’s teeth.

I see there are a number of private dental insurance plans available. Many of them seem to offer the basic coverage we’re seeking (preventative care, x-rays, etc.) and cover a good chunk of the bigger stuff (extractions, cavities).

I’m still shopping plans, but I’m certain we won’t go with the employer-offered one.

We could just try to self-insure — set aside money to pay our dental bills out-of-pocket. But I don’t like the risk involved with that, if we need to have something more major done. Perhaps there is a “big event-only” sort of dental plan that we could get and just pay for cleanings out of pocket.

All this to say — if you don’t have dental coverage at all, look into your options because there are some affordable ones out there! And you don’t have to take the employer’s offerings. Sometimes there are better, more affordable options available.



6 Responses to “Evaluating new dental insurance”

  1. We’ve opted out of the dental insurance my company offers, too. We figured, except for some crazy emergency, we’d be paying more in premiums than we’d pay for dental visits. We’re self-insuring, but using our HSA dollars to pay for visits, which basically gives us a 25-30% “discount” because we’re using pre-tax dollars.
    joanna´s last post ..Rolling

  2. There are a number of discount plans out there that are less than $200/year for a family, and it offers discounts on preventative care and extra stuff, so it seems like I could get something like that, save a bunch off my premiums, and still have a good discount if we needed something more expensive.

  3. When we made this decision with Tony’s insurance, we added up the estimated cost of yearly preventative care. It was roughly the same as what we’ll pay for the insurance for the two of us. That doesn’t include the money we’ll save if we need something major done or even a basic cavity fill. So it seems like a pretty good gamble. We pay what we’d pay for preventative care only we pay it to the insurance company (pre-tax) in monthly installments, and they provide us with coverage in the event of something bigger. Preventative care doesn’t have a co-pay or a deductible, but I think we have a 10% co-pay and a $50 deductible for everything else.

    Dental insurance isn’t like regular health insurance in that the risk for the insurance company is much lower. There’s a relatively low cap on dental work — you can’t rack up millions of dollars in medical costs for dental work. So private insurance is comparatively cheap and easy to get. I think it’s smart to skip the $94/month plan. I think we pay under $20 for ours, so it made sense to stick with the employer plan, but you’re right that there are lots of good private plans available for a good value.

    Definitely take a look at yearly caps on coverage! A lot of cheaper dental plans will cap your coverage at $1000 for the year or something. That’s what my last plan did, so when I needed my wisdom teeth out, we ended up paying quite a bit out of pocket between the 20% co-insurance and the money we owed after I hit the coverage limit.
    Karen´s last post ..Home

  4. Have you looked into Aflac dental? I do not know the programs available in your state, or the cost, but here in Washington a family could get a super basic plan for around $60 a month through payroll. There aren’t a lot of “great” dental plans. Even Aflac’s is not going to pay 100% of most procedures.

    Just another option to look into. Dental options are not easy. Sometimes it’s easier to pay cash and negotiate a cash discount with a dentist.

  5. We don’t have dental insurance since we live abroad, and I did have my teeth cleaned at the hospital where my husband works, but it freaked me out…and I’ve always been pretty cool about teeth cleanings. So now we try to keep our teeth really healthy by eating pure xylitol so we don’t get cavities and need any work done. You can go to https://www.zelliescleanwhiteteeth.com// to learn about how xylitol works and it’s benefits for preventing cavities and promoting oral health. I first heard of it from a friend who uses it and had good results. Now I brush my toddlers teeth with granulated xylitol and then a drop of bubble gum ACT flouride rinse on the toothbrush. Twice a day.
    I just thought I’d share this since you have little ones too and that this might be of some interest or help.

  6. Well, our dental insurance is lumped with our health…we can’t opt out even if we wanted to…it’s the way the employer purchased the package.

    Anyway…what we have found since hubby’s employer has changed plans 3 times is that typically basic cleanings are covered with pretty much most plans. x-rays are covered to a certain point but not every year. As far as orthodontics, all of the plans we have been on have had a life time max of $1000 per person…which in reality…is nothing when it comes to orthodontics. We have had one periodontist issue that was covered at 80%.

    All that is to say that I think if you can find a decent plan that doesn’t cost too much it might be worth it. But I would definitely take into consideration how much annual cleanings are and if that would that be off set by the premium. For us, annual cleanings are around $120 per person…so a $200 per year family plan (for 4 people) would probably be beneficial for us.

    Also…one last thing. Two of the more expensive dental procedures (over $500) we have had done…the dentist/specialist did not take insurance up front. We had to pay him first and then submit the bills to be reimbursed. I have found that to be pretty much the standard here…in NJ. A lot of specialist require payment up front, before they even do the procedure. And many of them offer 0% interest payment plans. Especially the orthodontist.

    I’d skip the employer plan and find something on your own.

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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