New York Dental Insurance
December 4, 2006 5:39 AM   Subscribe

My employer doesn't offer dental insurance. What sort of private dental insurance should I get for my family (wife, daughter and me)? Any suggestions?
posted by milarepa to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Forgot to add:

In general, what should I look for and what should I avoid?
posted by milarepa at 5:45 AM on December 4, 2006

i would look for one that pays for annual checkups including xrays without a deductible. also, do a little math and make sure your max payout equals more than what you will pay in premiums per year or there isn't much point.

i would say the biggest differences in policies will be deductible and max payout per person. tailor that to your needs - if you have someone who tends to need lots of dental work, choose lower deductible, higher payout. if you have pretty good teeth and your daughter is young, i would gamble more and pay less premium. i have seen policies that require a co pay for each procedure, so make sure you understand what you are buying.

chances of finding one that will make it so you never have to pay the dentist anything are slim, unless you guys never need dental work.
posted by domino at 6:34 AM on December 4, 2006

Most dental insurance plans -- even group policies but definitely individual policies (if you can find one) -- are pretty weak. I think it's because there's a known and fixed cost of annual maintenance of teeth, so they have to charge at least that much in premiums, less the probability that someone won't go to the dentist, plus the risk of more expensive issues (root canal, cap, etc.). So often the premiums are more or less equal to what you would expect to pay the dentist anyway.

Anyway, if you can't find a policy that makes sense, you might consider a health savings account. These are tax-free dollars that are deposited, either in an account that your employer maintains or in an account that a third party maintains. (My employer provides both kinds.) You deposit a certain amount out of your paycheck, pre-tax, each pay period, and then submit your bills. As long as there is enough money in the account, there is no battling over porcelain versus metal, etc. , were the X-rays necessary, etc.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 7:59 AM on December 4, 2006

From my experience managing dental offices, I can say for most people, dental insurance is not actually insurance.

You know that in a given year you will need a certain number of cleanings and diagnostic films. Some insurance plans cover 2, 3 or 4 cleanings per year. 2 is the most common, and if that is the case and you need 3 or 4 cleanings in a year, you will pay the "extras" out of pocket. The maximum coverage for most plans is about $1,500 per year. That number has been the same for about 30 years. In many places this amount is the cost of one crown. If you need two in one year, well, there you are. And you aren't likely to need a crown every year.

My advice is to talk to your financial planner/advisor about putting the amount of the monthly premium into an account for future restorations/orthodontia, or something else.
posted by bilabial at 1:20 PM on December 4, 2006

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