Author Topic: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish  (Read 7975 times)

freezerburn

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Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« on: November 05, 2015, 04:07:51 PM »
AKA: it's open enrollment time and I'm dithering...

Luckily my rates for healthcare, vision, and dental are not going up, and the cost of coverage for dental is even going down slightly. Vision coverage I need and use regularly, but I recently came to the (face punch-worthy) realization that I've now had dental coverage for multiple years, costing me hundreds per year, and haven't even bothered to get a checkup... I also realized that my dental plan doesn't seem to cover major stuff, really only the basics, so if something were really wrong I would still need to pay out of pocket (for which I do have an FSA available). I'm lucky that I have decent teeth and take pretty good care of them, so no imminent worries, therefore I've been considering opting out of dental and saving the $350+ per year difference.

And yet... what if something happens...?! I worried about my health for years when I had no healthcare coverage at all (pre-ACA but only a few years ago) so turning it down is making me anxious.

I don't really know what I'm asking, just feeling like I can't get any clarity on this! Cue gnashing of teeth (!)

firewalker

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2015, 04:15:59 PM »
I'm battling this myself since anything major is not covered and the dentist you want may not take your insurance.

mies

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2015, 04:39:14 PM »
If the insurance doesn't cover major expenses, I'd just skip it. If you brush twice a day, floss once a day, and get your teeth cleaned and examined every 6 months, you should be fine. I've had good success with keeping my teeth in good shape doing what I listed in the previous sentence. 34 and no cavities :D

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2015, 04:45:38 PM »
Cancel it. Insurance is for catastrophic events that could break you. Health insurance is necessary because you can run up a million dollar cancer bill. Your teeth? Never gonna cost a million dollars.

But before the year runs out, get your teeth cleaned while you still can!

I carry dental insurance on my boys and myself because I called around to find out what our cost would be, and it is financially worthwhile. (Plus apparently I need all my cavities replaced.) But I don't have it on my husband because his monthly cost was higher and it didn't make mathematical sense.

Jack

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2015, 04:51:33 PM »
Cancel it. Insurance is for catastrophic events that could break you. Health insurance is necessary because you can run up a million dollar cancer bill. Your teeth? Never gonna cost a million dollars.

More to the point, even if it did, the so-called "insurance" wouldn't cover it! Instead of covering everything "above" a certain cost, it covers stuff "up to" a certain cost. It protects you from nothing!

Dental "insurance" is not deserving of the name -- it's really just a payment plan for routine cleanings and such, for which you usually pay extra (unless you have lots of fillings, apparently). It's total BS.

Bellatrix

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2015, 04:57:44 PM »
I was just debating whether I should cancel my dental insurance.  It's pretty useless and I could cover a large dental expense out of pocket if I had to.  My teeth seem to be ok and I haven't had any issues in years. Granted, I'm sure as soon as I cancel my insurance, I'll get hit in the face with a baseball, have all my teeth knocked out, and will require expensive treatment. 

Kris

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2015, 04:58:55 PM »
Yeah, I can see it. Dental insurance, even good plans, is typically pretty crappy. If you have a big enoutgh stache that you can pay out of pocket for a major dental expense, I don't see a problem with dropping dental.

Jack

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2015, 06:08:27 PM »
Granted, I'm sure as soon as I cancel my insurance, I'll get hit in the face with a baseball, have all my teeth knocked out, and will require expensive treatment.

I'm pretty sure dental wouldn't cover stuff like that. Medical might, but not dental.

seattlecyclone

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2015, 07:21:09 PM »
Cancel it. Insurance is for catastrophic events that could break you. Health insurance is necessary because you can run up a million dollar cancer bill. Your teeth? Never gonna cost a million dollars.

More to the point, even if it did, the so-called "insurance" wouldn't cover it! Instead of covering everything "above" a certain cost, it covers stuff "up to" a certain cost. It protects you from nothing!

Dental "insurance" is not deserving of the name -- it's really just a payment plan for routine cleanings and such, for which you usually pay extra (unless you have lots of fillings, apparently). It's total BS.

On the whole, this is true. If your employer happens to subsidize it, you can still be better off getting it. My employer charges me something like $100/year for dental coverage, and in return I get two dental cleanings per year and a massive discount on any fillings that may be required. This seems like a great deal to me. When I retire and am paying my own money for stuff, I'll probably ask the dentist about a cash discount and drop the dental plan.

nvmama

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2015, 07:45:58 PM »
We do not have dental insurance.  The kids cleanings are covered under medical insurance.  My husband and I just pay out of pocket for cleanings.

Our dental insurance is expensive and only covers up to $1000 worth of work outside preventive stuff after meeting the small deductible.  So much cheaper to pay out of pocket ave then submit for reimbursement from FSA.

freezerburn

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2015, 08:01:10 PM »
It is super helpful to read all of your replies, thank you!

If I drop it and something does happen I'm pretty sure I could cover it with cash savings or FSA funds, so I'm leaning towards canceling it and just getting the free cleaning done before the current plan expires. I will definitely enjoy having the extra funds to stash that would otherwise have gone towards paying the premiums.

My employer has great benefits in many ways but dental coverage is one of the exceptions. I don't think they subsidize it at all--Seattlecyclone, your deal sounds pretty good.

mandy_2002

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2015, 09:47:29 PM »
Is there any chance you can go to a dentist before open enrollment closes? Get a cleaning and a check up on this year's plan, and if there's anything big, check the difference between with and without insurance. You can still use this year's plan so the money spent this year isn't just getting flushed.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 09:49:38 PM by mandy_2002 »

freezerburn

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2015, 06:40:14 AM »
Mandy, unfortunately there's no time to do that before open enrollment closes for me, which is today. We were given a week in between finding out about benefits changes and deciding whether or not to change any elections. This seems like a really short amount of time to me, considering it encompasses all of our optional benefits (health, life insurance, whatever). But it's also my own fault for just not going to the dang dentist before! My old plan runs through the end of this month if not end of December, so I should be able to get a free cleaning/check-up on the $$ I've already paid. Going to clarify this with HR today.

Jack

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2015, 07:40:45 AM »
Here's a strategy I've considered: get cleanings at the very beginning of the plan year and then again at the very end, then drop the plan for a year, then reinstate it and repeat. After all, getting cleanings at six-month intervals may not be worthwhile anyway.

zephyr911

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2015, 10:46:49 AM »
I went without it for years, just paying about $120 annually for a checkup and cleaning. If you take good care of your teeth and aren't accident-prone, the risk is probably small. Your call.
It's not like medical where the results of one ER stay could bankrupt the average person. Much easier to self-insure, by comparison at least.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2015, 11:18:12 AM »
Dental insurance is crap.

Daisy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2015, 11:29:54 AM »
I am a rare person that loves to go to the dentist. I have never had a cavity though, so I always get compliments from the dentist and hygienist. All I go for is twice a year cleanings.

I have thought I don't need dental insurance, but my company must be subsidizing it big time because I also think I pay a ridiculously low $100 per year or something like that.

I guess if I had to get it myself in the market I'd decline as I don't spend much for dental care.

I'm having the same issue with vision care. I don't have vision issues and have declined vision care on my health plan in the past. But really it's like $2 a month so I am thinking of adding it on and going for a vision checkup. At some point I may need vision care, after all and it looks like my company is heavily subsidizing it.

CommonCents

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2015, 11:33:40 AM »
FYI, with many dental insurances you get negotiated rates that are lower than what you'd otherwise pay for the service.  I have two dental plans, mine through my work and a secondary on my husband's.  Once I've reached my cap, my plan doesn't give me the negotiated rates anymore, but my husband's does even after the cap, so it's great.

Yes, you may be able to negotiate a discount with the dentist, but it's likely not as large as the bulk rate the insurer negotiated.

(As someone who has had a lot of dental work and very little health care, I agree that dental plans generally are terrible.  I wish they'd just roll the two together.)

seattlecyclone

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2015, 11:34:26 AM »
Vision "insurance" is a total scam that puts the scamminess of dental insurance to shame. The optometrists who accept the insurance for glasses inflate their prices so much that you often end up paying more than if you simply paid cash to Walmart or Costco or Warby Parker or wherever else, and the price of unsubsidized coverage is often roughly the same as the discount the plan gives you on an eye exam and glasses.

Exflyboy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2015, 11:43:47 AM »
We have not carried dental for years and get our teeth cleaned once per year and have been told we are doing fine.

This year I went to a new dentist (new patient signup special) and found I needed a couple of fillings and some root scraping in that one area.. I know they are telling me the truth because in one area thats been bleeding a lot lately and it hurt more when she probed it. I also know I needed one of the fillings from last year.

So the bill came to $1000 normally, but was $835 with discounts.

So I pointed out I was paying with cash right now and I think I could get a better deal on the fillings.. the price came down to $593.

Considering I have not had any work apart from yearly cleanings for 10 years that bill did not seem too outrageous.

Spork

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #20 on: November 06, 2015, 12:00:44 PM »
Vision "insurance" is a total scam that puts the scamminess of dental insurance to shame. The optometrists who accept the insurance for glasses inflate their prices so much that you often end up paying more than if you simply paid cash to Walmart or Costco or Warby Parker or wherever else, and the price of unsubsidized coverage is often roughly the same as the discount the plan gives you on an eye exam and glasses.

Agreed.  When I briefly had it, the only optometrists in town that took that plan were ...well... what's the nice term?  "Less good than others."  Oddly, the optometrist office was also selling snake oil supplements and various Scentsy type things right there at the register.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2015, 12:00:52 PM »
I pay $46.28 a year for Dental Insurance so at the price it is a no-brainer, but I have yet to actually need it as medical insurance covers 2 free cleanings and X rays each year and I haven't had any cavities.  If I were to add my spouse or family, the annual cost would go up to $571.74, totally not worth it when you factor in the max out of pocket and that they only cover 80%, yadayadayada... I always thought your typical "good" medical insurance always covered the preventative side of dental, but maybe that's not as typical as I thought.

StacheInAFlash

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2015, 12:05:07 PM »
Granted, I'm sure as soon as I cancel my insurance, I'll get hit in the face with a baseball, have all my teeth knocked out, and will require expensive treatment.

I'm pretty sure dental wouldn't cover stuff like that. Medical might, but not dental.

Yeah, medical would totally cover that. Most people seem to think that the whole mouth area is off limits with medical insurance, but actual damage to the mouth and teeth is totally covered. Cavities, no... leaving your teeth embedded in your steering wheel after a car accident, totally covered. Same goes for things like TMJ issues.

Bob W

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2015, 12:08:51 PM »
Have never had dental insurance in 35 years.  Worked for me.   I brush at least twice a day and drink tea (high in fluoride) most of the day.   Haven't seen a dentist in at least 10 years.   Had a friend dentist pull a couple of wisdom teeth then for free. 

Don't underestimate the power of flossing or water picking daily as well.  It is very important.   

Daisy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2015, 12:11:17 PM »
I did not know medical insurance covered preventive cleanings. What?!?!? What am I paying dental insurance for? Is this really true? I'm going to have to look it up on my health plan.

What about a regular vision test? I have never had issues but want to get a vision checkup, cause-you know, I'm getting older. Shouldn't this be covered under regular health insurance? I don't need glasses or anything (not yet...says future-wiser-older-me back to current-me).

Daisy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2015, 12:14:22 PM »
Have never had dental insurance in 35 years.  Worked for me.   I brush at least twice a day and drink tea (high in fluoride) most of the day.   Haven't seen a dentist in at least 10 years.   Had a friend dentist pull a couple of wisdom teeth then for free. 

Don't underestimate the power of flossing or water picking daily as well.  It is very important.

I am an obsessive flosser as well. I've never had cavities nor gum issues in my 46 years. I think one of my grandmothers died at 87 without dental issues either.

But I am a big fan of preventive cleanings. I actually *LIKE* it. I come out of the dentist's office with a big smile on my face. It also helps that it's the only place in this world where I am called "perfect" (by both the hygienist and dentist - they like to stroke my dental ego). (I know someday I'm going to regret being this cocky about my dental health)

Dicey

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2015, 12:28:20 PM »
I did not know medical insurance covered preventive cleanings. What?!?!? What am I paying dental insurance for? Is this really true? I'm going to have to look it up on my health plan.

What about a regular vision test? I have never had issues but want to get a vision checkup, cause-you know, I'm getting older. Shouldn't this be covered under regular health insurance? I don't need glasses or anything (not yet...says future-wiser-older-me back to current-me).

I doubt that medical coverage includes preventive cleanings. What they do tend to cover is medically necessary care, such as damage as a result of an accident, not preventive maintenance.

To OP - I went a few years without dental insurance when I was self-employed, and had regular teeth cleanings. My regular dentist gave me a break because I was paying cash. Because I had nothing major happen during those years, I might actually have come out ahead. But seriously: GET YOUR TEETH CLEANED BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR! (Shouting over.) Make sure to do it soon enough that if you need anything done, you can do it while you're still insured.

As to vision, I have "coverage" now, but if I didn't, I'd go to Costco. So, plus one to seattlecyclone's suggestion, with emphasis on Costco.

And as to what should be covered vs. what is actually covered? I'm not brave enough to go there...

AZDude

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2015, 01:34:48 PM »
Does it not cover anything major or only partially cover it. Some things, like crowns, implants, etc.. can cost several thousand dollars. If insurance pays even 50%, it might be worth it. Plus, what is the cost of the negotiated rates for cleanings/x-rays/exams vs the cost for the uninsured? Often providers gouge the uninsured just for fun... or something.

Exflyboy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2015, 01:49:23 PM »
Does it not cover anything major or only partially cover it. Some things, like crowns, implants, etc.. can cost several thousand dollars. If insurance pays even 50%, it might be worth it. Plus, what is the cost of the negotiated rates for cleanings/x-rays/exams vs the cost for the uninsured? Often providers gouge the uninsured just for fun... or something.

I fund the prices to be negotiatble.. see my post abpve

pdxvandal

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2015, 01:53:06 PM »
The premiums are cheap (at least through my employer), and my teeth aren't perfect, so it's definitely saved me money over the years. I've used it far more than my medical insurance in the past 15 years.

mandy_2002

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2015, 03:26:22 PM »
Vision "insurance" is a total scam that puts the scamminess of dental insurance to shame. The optometrists who accept the insurance for glasses inflate their prices so much that you often end up paying more than if you simply paid cash to Walmart or Costco or Warby Parker or wherever else, and the price of unsubsidized coverage is often roughly the same as the discount the plan gives you on an eye exam and glasses.

It may be unique to our plan, but the addition of vision insurance really only gets you "discounts" on glasses and lenses.  My medical plan covers one vision check up a year under the preventive services.  I do wear glasses, but I buy through Zenni, and will be getting 4-5 pairs (including some sunglasses) for less that $100 this year. 
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 03:29:39 PM by mandy_2002 »

v8rx7guy

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2015, 03:47:24 PM »
Dental insurance often has "max yearly" payouts of $1,500 or so.  Such a ripoff.  I am embarassed that I have been paying over $600/yr for mine.  Dropping it this open enrollment.  Can't you use HSA funds for all things dental?  That is the clear winner IMHO.

hyla

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2015, 12:12:34 PM »
One thing to consider about dental is that dental stuff is rarely an emergency you need to deal with immediately in the same way some medical stuff can be.  You can always skip insurance, pay cash for your annual checkup, and then if they tell you you need something big, sign up for insurance and wait for your insurance to be active before you get it done.  That's how I got my wisdom teeth out. 

TomTX

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2015, 05:25:25 PM »
There is a middle ground that I chose a few years ago: The dental discount plan. You get prenegotiated reduced prices after paying an annual fee.

The dental "insurance" offered by my work is total shit, so I had been skipping paying for it. Cost me less to get my cleanings out-of-pocket.

However: I found a dental discount plan that saved me even more. Discount plan + 2 cleanings was slightly less than 2 cleanings with no discount. I've had a few old filling fail on me, so I came out WAY ahead with the fillings being half what the "retail" price was*

Last year, lo and behold: My work started offering the same exact dental discount plan as an option, for about 30% less than the open market cost! Woo!

For those who are "winging it" - if you have a dental problem come up: go online, google up dental discount plans, get one that your dentist takes and buy coverage. It's usually active in a couple of days.

*The dental 'insurance' wouldn't have paid shit, as they only cover old style mercury-silver fillings, which require greater excavation of healthy tooth.

iris lily

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2015, 06:00:12 PM »
I am 61 years old and have never taken dental insurance coverage. I have good teeth but bad gums, DH has decent teeth.

We self fund any detail,issues.,it is not a big deal for Mustacheans.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2015, 08:04:13 PM »
Read up on the details of your dental plan.  If it's just for you (not a family), and your employer doesn't kick in any money, most likely it is $1,000 maximum per year.  Any event has co-pays/deductibles.  In other words, at best a "budgeting plan", costing you hundreds per year, insuring you for, at the most $1,000 per year.  If that is the case, you're better off just including dental costs in you emergency fund (maybe the same amount as your dental insurance premium?) and skip the so called "insurance". 

freezerburn

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Re: Considering dropping dental coverage, feeling skittish
« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2015, 09:30:28 PM »
OP here, thanks to everyone for the responses. They have really helped me put this in perspective, and I dropped the dental plan.

It is indeed a $1,000 max per year, so frugaliknowit, your description of it as a "budgeting plan" is accurate. I can cover costs out of my emergency fund if any should arise in the next year. (I have no cavities and I floss daily, but never say never...)

My plan year ends at the end of this month--Diane C, I'm going for a cleaning before it expires :)