The Dirty Secret About Dental Insurance: Will my Insurance Cover This?

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dental insurance dirty secret 3Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, CA

One of the more frequent questions we hear in the dental office is, “will my insurance cover this?”  It’s no secret these days that healthcare is expensive, and that those costs are only rising.  What is not rising, unfortunately, is the percentage at which dental insurance covers dental treatment.  You may not know this, but dental insurance isn’t even actual insurance!  A true insurance would assess your risk before issuing a policy.  Car insurance, for example, is less expensive with a safe driving record.  Rack up multiple traffic violations and car accidents, and all of a sudden the cost of insurance rises.  Why?  Because an unsafe driver is more expensive to cover.  But with dental “insurance,” everybody gets the same amount of coverage regardless of their oral health.  You could have all 32 teeth in perfect condition and you will have the same benefits as someone who has only half of their teeth and serious gum disease.  Doesn’t really make sense, does it?

In addition, did you know that the maximum benefit for dental “insurance” has stayed the same for 40 years?!  That’s right – the $1000-2000 yearly benefit you were getting in 1975 is the same benefit you are getting today.  Had dental “insurance” kept up with inflation, you would be receiving almost $8000 in benefits every year!

So you see, your dental “insurance” is actually more of a “rebate” plan.  And that rebate is only getting worse.  For example, some of the dental plans tacked on to the Affordable Care Act medical plans are so stripped down, they barely cover basic preventative care like cleanings and check-up x-rays.

If you don’t currently have a dental “insurance” plan and are considering purchasing one, our advice is always: Don’t!  The money you’ll spend on premiums will not be worth the meager benefit you will receive.  Instead, consider saving that money in a pre-tax Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account and use it on the care YOU want to receive when you want it, and with whom you want it, not the care your insurance dictates.

Read Part II 

Part III