dental insurance with no waiting period?
November 26, 2008 7:34 PM   Subscribe

I need to have a root canal, build-up and crown done on a molar - almost $2,000 worth of work. I have no dental insurance. Is there any private dental insurance I can buy, either in Idaho or New Jersey, that doesn't have a waiting period for this kind of work?

I realize that it probably will cover only a fraction of the work, but I really need to have the work done and am trying to minimize the financial pain (will need to take a loan, in any case). I spend time in both Idaho and New Jersey and can have it done either place. I am self-employed. Thank you all very much in advance!
posted by ac to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Delta Dental Patient Direct/New Jersey is a membership program for individuals costing $66/yr. It claims to cover 30-42% of fees charged by participating dentists -- including root canals and crowns.

A family member has Delta Dental/California and, after paying the annual fee by credit card over the phone, only had to wait about 14 days before coverage began.

However, a caveat: before joining, thoroughly research the plan's participating dentists in your area, for, in my relative's case, the choices were limited and included a dental office that boasted an "F" rating from the BBB and a litany of internet-based consumer complaints.
posted by terranova at 8:08 PM on November 26, 2008

If there is a college or university nearby with a medical/dental school you can get treatment for a lot less cost than at a dental office.
posted by JayRwv at 8:12 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

find a dentist that will take payments
posted by patnok at 8:26 PM on November 26, 2008

dental waiting periods are generally draconian. like a year and a half for a preexisting condition.

If you're in New Jersey, if you can make it to NYC, there is the NYU dental school. You'll still be paying for it, but ASTONISHINGLY less.

I googled "dental school new jersey" and got this link, which seems like a similar opportunity. There were others, but I didn't dig any more.

don't know anything about idaho.
posted by micawber at 8:32 PM on November 26, 2008

I've heard of mixed results from people who have used the NYU Dental school. One friend has been going there for 10+ years and has never had single, bridge, cleanings, you name it. Another friend had an experience there so unfortunate and gruesome that it's cost her many many thousands of dollars at another dentist to get fixed. So YMMV. Good luck.
posted by at 9:26 PM on November 26, 2008

Get the root canal done. You can go without a crown for at least a year.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:27 PM on November 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you all for taking the time to help. I was told by the doc's office that if I got the root canal but no crown, the rubber filling would be leaking out and it would be bad.

I found a dentist in NJ who will take payments; This was all prompted by my tooth breaking, which was yesterday, and my appointment is in 3 weeks - she prescribed me antibiotics to take until then, which I think I will do, unless anyone has any other advice.

She's not on Delta Dental's search tool; their Patient Direct plan is weird - it says that it's not insurance, and just offers access to a network of dentists that basically give lower fees - but doesn't have any fee schedule for any of the larger work.

Thanks again.
posted by ac at 11:01 PM on November 26, 2008

You might try Blue Cross. I've had serious work (wisdom teeth removed, crown put in place, cleaning) done within weeks of getting my dental insurance through them.
posted by digitaldraco at 11:53 PM on November 26, 2008

Also, try to negotiate with the dentist, since if you had insurance, he or she would be paid a lot less than the cash fee. I don't know how far you'll get, but as a (non-dental) example, I had a hospital stint which resulted in a $45k bill. My insurance told the hospital that the procedures they did were only billable for $3.7k, and I ended up paying something like $500, with insurance covering the rest. If I wanted to pay cash, the hospital automatically offered a 50% 'cash discount' -- so all the prices were totally bogus.

It's certainly easier to negotiate before-the-fact than after-the-fact, especially since there are many dentists out there. Hopefully, you'll be able to find one who will do it for close to the standard insurance rate. Alternatively, perhaps you can find some insurance which, even if it doesn't pay for the actual procedure, will enforce contract rates on the dentist.
posted by bsdfish at 12:06 AM on November 27, 2008

For that amount of cash you could conceivably have the work done somewhere like Costa Rica, and get a vacation out of it to boot.
posted by gottabefunky at 12:09 AM on November 27, 2008

The dentist will only be paid less by the insurance if they were contracting with that insurance company as a "network provider". Otherwise they're free to set their fees. Also, $2000 seems pretty normal for the work you describe, although I'm sure there may be cheaper alternatives. I can't say I recommend going too cheap, though. Do try the schools.
posted by alexei at 2:38 AM on November 27, 2008

Take the antibiotics!
posted by Carol Anne at 5:35 AM on November 27, 2008

I was told by the doc's office that if I got the root canal but no crown, the rubber filling would be leaking out and it would be bad.

This is wrong in my experience, I've never had a root canal done where the filling was made of a rubber that would "leak". All my root canals (3 of 'em) have a regular hard filling that doesn't degrade like that, so I was able to wait until I could afford the crowns. The longest I've gone without a crown is 18 months, with no probs whatsoever. A proper root canal does not immediately need a crown, that is the standard. There's no reason the dentist should be forcing you to have the crown immediately following the root canal. My mom had an uncrowned root canal tooth for 18 years, that finally cracked last month (and fixing that has cost more than a timely placed crown would have).
posted by zarah at 7:24 AM on November 27, 2008

Umm, you know you could always have it pulled out...

I had a similar experience with a tooth breaking - tried to save it, twice, maybe three times. Had it rebuilt, filled, root-canal, the works. Finally, while on a vacation when it acted up again, I saw a dentist who said, "This is an angry tooth and it just wants to come out of your mouth--I recommend we extract it." It was the best advice!

And my bite even improved.
posted by Toto_tot at 7:53 AM on November 27, 2008

most dentists have some kind of payment plan or care credit - if they do not, then find someone else. in fact, a lot of dentists in the new york area have started their own 'insurance' which is just a no-interest payment plan. they'd rather deal with the individual patients than with the insurance companies.

as for the root canal, i have at this moment a tooth that had a root canal that was under a bridge. they put a temporary bridge back on after the root canal. i never had the $$ to get the real bridge, and one day the temporary died. they made temporary caps. they wore out. i had no choice to to just leave them alone.

i am back on my feet and have dental and a FSA and made a commitment to deal with this. i went to a dentist and explained that i know the tooth would be in trouble. that it's been uncovered for years.

he took a look and shook his head, told me that whoever told me (a previous dentist) that i had done a horrible, life-threatening thing by leaving it uncovered was incorrect. it's not in trouble. there's nothign wrong with it. i got a really, really good (and expensive) root canal.

posted by micawber at 3:47 PM on November 27, 2008

« Older Locating version of "The Little Drummer Boy" by a...   |   Ruskin quote filter Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.