I'm putting my dentist's kids through college
April 11, 2012 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Individual Dental Insurance. Is there such a thing, and is it affordable, and is it offered by someone other than Delta Dental?

Delta Dental is offered by my workplace. I've looked it over every year, with an eye to adding it, but the cutoffs are such that it has always looked like you would do better just to pocket the money ($300 limit here, $200 limit on that other procedure, $1,000 max for the year, etc).

However, I have bad luck with teeth (I'm a grinder) and have considerable dental expenses every year for one reason or another. Enough that I'm willing to pay for dental insurance on my own if it doesn't have these ridiculously low limits. I've blown past what Delta Dental would allow for an entire year in the first four months of this year, on one tooth alone. It's very frustrating, and it's single-toothedly destroying my ability to do things like go out to nice dinners, or save for retirement. I imagine it will only get worse as I get older.

How do other people deal with this, when dental isn't covered by your job?
posted by instead of three wishes to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I'm going to add, in case it was unclear -- you can purchase Delta through my workplace, but you are the one paying for it. It's not subsidized.
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:10 AM on April 11, 2012

Individual dental insurance is real, but unless you expect serious work, it's almost never worth it.
posted by valkyryn at 7:13 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Get a second job with dental benefits? Look for other full-time work that include dental benefits even if it is a step down in pay. Marry someone with dental benefits. Use dental tourism to cut down on costs. That is pretty much it.

Dental insurance companies exist to make money so there isn't a business plan to provide dental coverage for yearly premiums for less than whan you spend on dentistry because few people with healthy teeth would sign up to spread out the risk.

It sucks. I'm sorry.
posted by saucysault at 7:52 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: but unless you expect serious work, it's almost never worth it.

Over 6K in bills last year. Over 4K this year so far, and it's only April. I'm pretty sure I have another root canal and crown in the future by Fall. It's destroying my budget.
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:53 AM on April 11, 2012

United is another company that has historically offered dental insurance.

The best way to find out who you can buy from is call a few dental offices and ask what companies they accept.

Bear in mind that many insurance companies have long wait times for work like crowns and root canals. The idea is that you don't buy dental insurance the moment you hear you need an expensive procedure. But each plan has it's own restrictions on those things. Read your contract carefully and remember that you are on the hook for whatever the insurance doesn't pay your dentist, despite what the pre-treatment estimate indicates for their portion.

(I used to manage a dental office. I am not a dentist, this is not dental advice.)
posted by bilabial at 7:58 AM on April 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Many dentists and oral surgeons now offer payment plans through services like Care Credit. I believe this is due to the fact that actual dental insurance has become so prohibitively expensive. We recently had to go the Care Credit route when our some required surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth. The payments are interest-free if paid-off in 12 months.

The payment terms are determined by the provider. Some offer 24 months interest-free.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2012

That should read "...when our SON required surgery..."
posted by Thorzdad at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2012

My job offers Metlife for dental, and even using an out of network dentist I was pleasantly surprised at how much was covered. They offer individual plans in CA, TX and FL only, but if you live in one of those states contact them and see what their individual rates are.
posted by 8dot3 at 8:01 AM on April 11, 2012

My cousin is my dentist and he said it's better to put the money you would have spent for insurance aside in reserve for dental work. But that's more likely for routiney stuff.

Before you buy insurance, see what they'll cover. My crappy add-on insurance only covers one filling a year, for instance (the coverage comes with my medical). And they pay almost nothing for anything else. Even my routine visits still cost me more than $100. I know I looked at Delta and I'm not sure it's much better.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 8:31 AM on April 11, 2012

It is easier to negotiate with dentists than doctors... Last year my decent dentist wanted to do a thing to me, I asked the cost, $3500 quoted. I said nope, but could they bring it under $2000. So the dentist sent the office manager to negotiate. I repeated "under $2000". A few minutes later she came back with the contract for $2000. I said "I said under $2000. Make it $1999. " A few minutes later she came back with a contract for $1999.

posted by caclwmr4 at 8:33 AM on April 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have dental insurance and it's basically good for cheap cleanings and the occasional routine procedure but if it's going to be expensive, they probably won't cover it. My wife needs some kind of surgery and they had to route it through our health insurance as medically necessary, because the dental insurance wouldn't cover it. However, they're very good about financing and payment plans (I had some work done and we're on 24 months with no interest).
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 8:40 AM on April 11, 2012

You might look here: Dentalbenefitsfor1.com

Not sure if your payment/expense ratio will work... but might be worth a look.
posted by ecorrocio at 8:42 AM on April 11, 2012

I had Security Life individual Dental Insurance last year. It wasn't horrible. Check ups were covered from Day 1 and were almost "free," Xrays and minor stuff like fillings after 6 months, root canals and other major work after 18 mo, all at 50%. However, most dental plans (individual or corporate) are going to have a $1000 or maybe $1500 annual limit on payouts.

I bought it through ehealthinsurance.com I think.
posted by COD at 9:31 AM on April 11, 2012

Basically, no. The way it works is that they're going to severely limit your benefits for the first year or so (no major services, for example), the annual maximum won't be high enough (capped at $1K), and the premiums will be really expensive, to the point where you'll do the numbers and wonder why anyone would buy it.

It sounds like your employer has a crummy Delta policy -- based on a schedule with a small network instead of the more generous Delta Premier or Preferred Plus options. You can express to your employer that you wish they'd get a better policy. Dental insurance is pretty cheap as a group benefit -- it's a drop in the bucket compared to their medical premiums, and they may be interested in giving employees a better option. (Or you can put money in an FSA for the expenses and try to negotiate a better deal with your dentist...)
posted by MarkAnd at 9:50 AM on April 11, 2012

I've been eyeing Humana One - but I'm still trying to figure out what the catch is: No deductible, no waiting, no limit, covers pre-existing conditions and a lot of dental work.

This is what I've been looking at. I have my state selected when I did the search... so the plans may vary.
posted by KogeLiz at 10:23 AM on April 11, 2012

« Older I would totally watch the Real Housewives of...   |   Roadtrip from Michigan to The Grand Canyon in June... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.