Dental Insurance: It's only part of the answer

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , ,

Congratulations! You just landed that dream job you've been after for the past year. You get a car allowance, secretary, fancy office, cell phone and corporate credit card. Of course you'll also get medical and dental insurance. Medical insurance you've always had, but dental coverage is something new to you.
Let me give you a short course in dental insurance.

First of all, dental insurance started in the late 1950's. Back then the average maximum benefit was $1,000. Of course, the premium wasn't very high. And, a person could get a lot of dental treatment done for $1,000, 40 years ago.

The problem is that now, in the year 2000, most benefit maximums on average are still $1,000. If you need a couple of fillings and maybe a crown, your total fee could easily surpass that.

And, while this dinosaur of a figure, $1,000, has not changed, insurance premiums and dental fees are much higher than years before.

What's this all mean? It means that dental insurance should be looked at as a supplement. It is not all encompassing, but can be used to help pay for regular dental exams and hygiene visits. It's there to help pay for part of dental treatment fees.

I can't tell you how many people say they are not going to have a necessary procedure done because they are out of benefits. Or worse, a person finds out that crowns or bridges are not covered, and since they've been told their dental insurance is "the best" available, decide that because the procedure in not covered by their insurance company, it is not needed. (Ironically what the insurance company will pay for is the extraction of that tooth when it rots away.)

Do not let your insurance dictate what treatment you get. If something is not covered, that does not mean it is not needed. It just means that the policy you have does not have that kind of coverage. Look for better insurance and/or accept the fact that you are responsible for the most part, for the condition of your mouth.

Ask questions about the coverage available. If there is only one plan available at your place of employment ask why.

Dental insurance is not like medical insurance. Medical procedures can become very complex and extremely costly and potentially run into six figures for long standing illnesses or accidents. There is nothing in dentistry that even comes close to that potential. That's the reason for a lower benefit limit, and anyone with the need for any treatment that's more than just the basic, is going to incur out of pocket expenses.

With all the latest advances in cosmetic dental procedures, many people are upset to learn that insurance policies pay for very few of them. Insurance companies could care less that the poor appearance of a person's teeth keeps them from smiling.

Fortunately, many dental offices have established payment plans for people who need or want major dental work done. Many people are investing in their smiles because they know the payback will be phenomenal. To see the look on someone's face once they feel comfortable smiling again is priceless. It makes going to work a lot of fun.

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