Dental Insurance

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Leesbro63
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Dental Insurance

Post by Leesbro63 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:54 pm

I know this has been discussed extensively in the past, but I'd like some up-to-date information. I'm 59 and will soon lose my Delta Dental group insurance. I pay about $600 a year for it and, surprisingly, have actually gotten out of it more than I put into it the past few years. I had two crowns after two root canals and the usual twice a year cleanings. I did have some out-of-pocket costs, but if for no other reason, the fee schedule saved me money. I don't like the idea of not having any coverage, but at what cost? What can I get as an individual that might be worth it?

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mickeyd
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by mickeyd » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:15 pm

Congrats Leesbro63, it sounds like you have beaten the system recently. What will your dental expenses be in the future? Of course you do not know. If you think that you may still have serious dental work to be done in the future, consider it on a year-to-year basis, but in the long term It rarely pays to have dental coverage.
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JoeRetire
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by JoeRetire » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:37 pm

First, try to get as much dental work completed before you lose your group coverage.

Then, go a year or so without coverage. You may well find that the cost of two cleanings per year is less than you would be paying in premiums for any dental insurance. At the end of a year or two, re-evaluate and decide then if you actually need insurance or not.

Finally, be sure to ask for a cash discount, and if it applies in your case, ask for a senior discount.
Don't be a lemming.

Big Dog
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Big Dog » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:42 pm

also, be aware that some private dental plans can have significant time deductibles, such as will not cover a crown or other major work in first 12 months, so you have to wait until month 13 to replace the next crown.

imyeti2
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by imyeti2 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:43 pm

I've been told that it is not a Dental Insurance rather a Dental benefit provided by your employer.

If you need to get dental work done in the future, I'd check out dental schools near where you live. Dental students guided by professors provide quality services at fraction of the cost. The only downside is that you'll be sitting in the chair longer than at regular dental offices.

I've had experiences with work from dental school and regular dentists. I live near a dental school where I got something done almost 20 years ago and it is still standing. Cannot be said of crown put by a regular dentist 10 years ago. I've good dental benefits, but never going back to a regular dentist again.

Good luck !

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RickBoglehead
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by RickBoglehead » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:46 pm

imyeti2 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:43 pm
I've been told that it is not a Dental Insurance rather a Dental benefit provided by your employer.

If you need to get dental work done in the future, I'd check out dental schools near where you live. Dental students guided by professors provide quality services at fraction of the cost. The only downside is that you'll be sitting in the chair longer than at regular dental offices.

I've had experiences with work from dental school and regular dentists. I live near a dental school where I got something done almost 20 years ago and it is still standing. Cannot be said of crown put by a regular dentist 10 years ago. I've good dental benefits, but never going back to a regular dentist again.

Good luck !
In the mid 80s we lived near a top dental school. I decided to avail myself of the free cleaning. NEVER would I do that again. I had to come back for them to finish it took so long. Jaw hurt for a week... :oops:
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jebmke
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by jebmke » Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:56 pm

I have looked at dental insurance options a couple of times since retiring. I could never get the math to work. We use a discount plan and budget for out of pocket expenses.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Topic Author
Leesbro63
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Leesbro63 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:11 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:56 pm
I have looked at dental insurance options a couple of times since retiring. I could never get the math to work. We use a discount plan and budget for out of pocket expenses.
Ok, can you point me to a discount plan?

jebmke
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by jebmke » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:12 pm

Leesbro63 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:11 pm
jebmke wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:56 pm
I have looked at dental insurance options a couple of times since retiring. I could never get the math to work. We use a discount plan and budget for out of pocket expenses.
Ok, can you point me to a discount plan?
We get one through this site

https://www.dentalplans.com/
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

sport
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by sport » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:23 pm

I consider dental insurance to be insurance in reverse. With most other insurances, you pay for small things, and insurance covers the major events. You have deductibles on your auto and HO insurance. But, if the house burns down, or the car is totaled, insurance is important. For dental insurance, they usually have a low annual maximum benefit, such as $1500. Most Bogleheads can afford expenses up to $1500. However, if you have major dental expenses that run to many thousands, the dental insurance will not be of much help. It is really more of a prepay for services. You will get a real benefit if your dentist is in network, due to the lower negotiated rates. I have never had a dentist that wanted to be in a network.

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SevenBridgesRoad
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by SevenBridgesRoad » Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:26 pm

My dentist (his organization, it's a pretty big practice) offers a membership plan. If you follow a twice-a-year cleaning program, you come out ahead with the membership even if you have nothing else done. You can pay monthly (ACH) or the whole thing once a year (credit card points). They do this instead of individually negotiated discounts, senior discounts and the like. Here's the list of included benefits...

Your Dental Membership provides you with the following:
2 cleanings per year
2 examinations per year
All necessary x-rays
2 emergency visit exams per year during normal business hours (including prescription and necessary x-rays)
Fluoride treatments (1 per adult per year, 2 per child per year)
15-20% discount on all additional services
Retired 2018 age 61 | "Not using an alarm is one of the great glories of my life." Robert Greene

diy60
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by diy60 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:06 pm

When I retired Megacorp offered a retiree dental plan, which I took for one year. The monthly premiums were obscene, and like others have said, with the annual limits of $1,500 it makes the coverage almost useless. I recently found a dental practice in our area that "gives back to the community", and charges scheduled rates and free xrays for those without insurance. She includes retirees in this as well.

adamthesmythe
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by adamthesmythe » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:38 pm

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:46 pm
imyeti2 wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:43 pm
I've been told that it is not a Dental Insurance rather a Dental benefit provided by your employer.

If you need to get dental work done in the future, I'd check out dental schools near where you live. Dental students guided by professors provide quality services at fraction of the cost. The only downside is that you'll be sitting in the chair longer than at regular dental offices.

I've had experiences with work from dental school and regular dentists. I live near a dental school where I got something done almost 20 years ago and it is still standing. Cannot be said of crown put by a regular dentist 10 years ago. I've good dental benefits, but never going back to a regular dentist again.

Good luck !
In the mid 80s we lived near a top dental school. I decided to avail myself of the free cleaning. NEVER would I do that again. I had to come back for them to finish it took so long. Jaw hurt for a week... :oops:
I mean, they are students, and some of them are good, some are becoming good, and some are not so good.

If you hafta, you hafta. But for many of us efficient and reliable is worth extra dollars.

Retired1809
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Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Retired1809 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 4:44 pm

If you decide to continue buying dental insurance, see if you might be eligible for coverage through any membership groups that you might be associated with. It might even be worth joining an association to qualify. One example for retired government workers in North Carolina is ncrgea.com

I'm not necessarily recommending this particular one but am only citing it as an example. You or your spouse may be eligible for membership in some other association that offers dental insurance with better benefits or lower costs than individual policies.

And a general comment about dental insurance. For many, it's not a great deal because of limited benefits (which would have a value only if you needed them, and then only up to the annual max - often around $1,000) and the cost which is 100% sure to be a positive integer. For that reason.

The only worse deal is warranties to pay to have household appliances or autos repaired, advertised by "Did you know that homeowners' insurance policies don't pay the cost of having your refrigerator repaired?" Duh.

tj
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by tj » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:52 pm

sport wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:23 pm
I consider dental insurance to be insurance in reverse. With most other insurances, you pay for small things, and insurance covers the major events. You have deductibles on your auto and HO insurance. But, if the house burns down, or the car is totaled, insurance is important. For dental insurance, they usually have a low annual maximum benefit, such as $1500. Most Bogleheads can afford expenses up to $1500. However, if you have major dental expenses that run to many thousands, the dental insurance will not be of much help. It is really more of a prepay for services. You will get a real benefit if your dentist is in network, due to the lower negotiated rates. I have never had a dentist that wanted to be in a network.
FEDVIP has plans with much higher benefit limits. I saw a few with 35k.

MikeG62
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by MikeG62 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 9:35 pm

jebmke wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:56 pm
I have looked at dental insurance options a couple of times since retiring. I could never get the math to work.
^For this same reason DW and I self insure for dental.
Real Knowledge Comes Only From Experience

Yooper16
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Yooper16 » Sun Feb 24, 2019 11:16 pm

As with most insurance---some are better than others. Our policy is thru federal benefits and more than pays for itself-- the premium is $46/month for self plus 1 coverage with 2500/year max payout for dental.

exams, xrays, 2 cleaning per year covered 100% by insurance
filing, peridontal covered at 55%
crowns etc paid at 30%
orthodontics at 70%

It pays these % whether in-network or not. In network we do not have to pay the difference from the payment vs the actual bill. We lucked out and our new dentist(2016 when we moved here) is in network.

The same policy also provides payments for eye care. I get new glasses every other year and my spouse gets new contacts each year plus new glasses every other year. Between dental and optical we get more than our premium back. There is also hearing benefits with the same policy.

For an extra 30/per month we could get a 35K yearly benefit with much higher % of coverage. But that would be overkill for our needs.

Try to find a large organization that you can join-- more members the better the bargaining power.

FBN2014
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by FBN2014 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:09 am

You can buy Delta Dental as an individual plan. Runs about $40/month for me. $1,000 max benefit but you still get the discount from the dentist if you go over that. Physicians Mutual also has a plan where you can choose higher levels of coverage if you want.
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sport
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by sport » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:10 pm

FBN2014 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:09 am
$1,000 max benefit but you still get the discount from the dentist if you go over that.
This is true only if the dentist is "in network".

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willthrill81
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm

I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

Topic Author
Leesbro63
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Leesbro63 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:07 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm
I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
Again, one big thing that I'm looking for, beyond the limited coverage, is the fee schedule.

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willthrill81
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:11 pm

Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:07 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm
I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
Again, one big thing that I'm looking for, beyond the limited coverage, is the fee schedule.
Would you elaborate on that?
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

Topic Author
Leesbro63
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Leesbro63 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:14 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:11 pm
Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:07 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm
I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
Again, one big thing that I'm looking for, beyond the limited coverage, is the fee schedule.
Would you elaborate on that?
Yeah, if I have to pay for a crown or root canal (or both) or even an implant, I'd like to go to a dentist that has agreed to accept a pre-determined fee schedule, even if I blow through the puny limits of the insurance it's connected to. Kinda like how no one should go to an Emergency Room without insurance because you'll be billed $20,000 (for instance) while an insurer, even if you have a high deductible and actually pay yourself, will be able to pay only $3,000.

yohac
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by yohac » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:24 pm

After retiring, the only dental insurance that made any sense for us was Cigna. $33 a month covers two exams per year for me and DW, which is less than half what we would pay out of pocket. Our dentist doesn't believe in breaks for cash customers.

Anything beyond an exam, we self-insure.

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willthrill81
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:30 pm

Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:14 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:11 pm
Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:07 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm
I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
Again, one big thing that I'm looking for, beyond the limited coverage, is the fee schedule.
Would you elaborate on that?
Yeah, if I have to pay for a crown or root canal (or both) or even an implant, I'd like to go to a dentist that has agreed to accept a pre-determined fee schedule, even if I blow through the puny limits of the insurance it's connected to. Kinda like how no one should go to an Emergency Room without insurance because you'll be billed $20,000 (for instance) while an insurer, even if you have a high deductible and actually pay yourself, will be able to pay only $3,000.
The question is whether the added cost of the insurance vs. the expected lower cost of self-insuring would be offset by such the benefit of such a fee schedule. Does your preferred dentist charge significantly different fees for self-pay?
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

DetroitRick
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by DetroitRick » Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:42 pm

I know exactly what you mean by the savings on the fee schedule. I use a discount program from Dental Solutions (their website is edentalsolutions.com, note that "e" in front). They actually operate under several different names. But this was recommended by my own dentist, and was originally offered via a county-wide program where I live. You'll want to check how well their network covers YOUR area, but it's been no problem for us (from gp's to endodontists and oral surgeon's, our preferred doctors have all been in this network so far). You can always call your providers and ask before signing up.

Discounts are comparable to what I had under former employer-based policies. Where, except for the fee discounts, the benefits never exceeded our premium costs. Except when I once worked for a dental products manufacturer that had an unusually good program. Of course, this is just a discount program and not insurance. Cost is minimal, I think their going rate is $120 annual per household (and we got grandfathered in at $59 per household per year, at least for the last 2 years).

Here's a couple of examples from our experiences in 2017 and 2018:
Adult exam & prophy billed at $110, discounted to $61
Oral exam billed at $60, discounted to $25
Bitewing (4 images) billed at $75 discounted to $35
Posterior resin composite (2 surface) billed at $267 discounted to $122
Full mouth imaging billed at $152 discounted to $81

These are pretty close to the "averages" quoted on their website as well. But it will vary. You can also try the cash discount approach, but we've had mixed results with that ourselves. After using this type of thing for 5+ years, and considering all the employer dental coverage I've ever had, we're happy going this route. And we're picky about our dentistry. I've looked at the dental coverage under various ACA plans too (optional, of course) and those offered in our area have been pretty poor (expensive, lots of exclusions).

FBN2014
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by FBN2014 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:10 pm

If you live in an area where there is a dental school close by then they usually have a public clinic where you can get routine cleanings for next to nothing and also save on other work. The students do the work under the supervision of the professors.
"October is one of the peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July, January, September, April, November, May March, June, December, August and February." - M. Twain

Topic Author
Leesbro63
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Leesbro63 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 7:57 pm

DetroitRick wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:42 pm
I know exactly what you mean by the savings on the fee schedule. I use a discount program from Dental Solutions (their website is edentalsolutions.com, note that "e" in front). They actually operate under several different names. But this was recommended by my own dentist, and was originally offered via a county-wide program where I live. You'll want to check how well their network covers YOUR area, but it's been no problem for us (from gp's to endodontists and oral surgeon's, our preferred doctors have all been in this network so far). You can always call your providers and ask before signing up.

Discounts are comparable to what I had under former employer-based policies. Where, except for the fee discounts, the benefits never exceeded our premium costs. Except when I once worked for a dental products manufacturer that had an unusually good program. Of course, this is just a discount program and not insurance. Cost is minimal, I think their going rate is $120 annual per household (and we got grandfathered in at $59 per household per year, at least for the last 2 years).

Here's a couple of examples from our experiences in 2017 and 2018:
Adult exam & prophy billed at $110, discounted to $61
Oral exam billed at $60, discounted to $25
Bitewing (4 images) billed at $75 discounted to $35
Posterior resin composite (2 surface) billed at $267 discounted to $122
Full mouth imaging billed at $152 discounted to $81

These are pretty close to the "averages" quoted on their website as well. But it will vary. You can also try the cash discount approach, but we've had mixed results with that ourselves. After using this type of thing for 5+ years, and considering all the employer dental coverage I've ever had, we're happy going this route. And we're picky about our dentistry. I've looked at the dental coverage under various ACA plans too (optional, of course) and those offered in our area have been pretty poor (expensive, lots of exclusions).
I will look into this. This is REALLY what I want. Dental "insurance", for the most part seems to be not insurance at all.

BogleMelon
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by BogleMelon » Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:35 pm

yohac wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:24 pm
After retiring, the only dental insurance that made any sense for us was Cigna. $33 a month covers two exams per year for me and DW, which is less than half what we would pay out of pocket. Our dentist doesn't believe in breaks for cash customers.

Anything beyond an exam, we self-insure.
Sometimes it is the contract between him and insurance companies, he always have to quote cash customer that stupid nonsense MSRP
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toofache32
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by toofache32 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:01 pm

sport wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:10 pm
FBN2014 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 9:09 am
$1,000 max benefit but you still get the discount from the dentist if you go over that.
This is true only if the dentist is "in network".
And is also dependent on which state you live in. Google "non-covered services laws"

toofache32
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by toofache32 » Mon Feb 25, 2019 11:06 pm

BogleMelon wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 10:35 pm
yohac wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:24 pm
After retiring, the only dental insurance that made any sense for us was Cigna. $33 a month covers two exams per year for me and DW, which is less than half what we would pay out of pocket. Our dentist doesn't believe in breaks for cash customers.

Anything beyond an exam, we self-insure.
Sometimes it is the contract between him and insurance companies, he always have to quote cash customer that stupid nonsense MSRP
It's also because the patient is not giving the doctor the same advertisement perks the insurance gives. If you can send 10 new patients EVERY week to his office, I'm sure the dentist will give you the lower insurance rates.

bberris
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by bberris » Tue Feb 26, 2019 7:56 am

Dental insurance pays off when someone else (your employer) pays most of the cost. If you have to pay the full freight yourself, it's unlikely to be worth it, because of annual maximum benefits and preexisting exclusions. Self insure and buy a discount card. They work and have no claims to get rejected. I got mine from dentalplans, but there are many sources. Check your dentist, and especially specialists such as oral surgeons and endodontists to see if they are members. Probably you will have no luck with orthodontists.

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JoeRetire
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by JoeRetire » Tue Feb 26, 2019 8:50 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 2:46 pm
In the mid 80s we lived near a top dental school. I decided to avail myself of the free cleaning. NEVER would I do that again. I had to come back for them to finish it took so long. Jaw hurt for a week... :oops:
When my girlfriend was in school, she had to recruit volunteers to get their teeth cleaned with the school's new water-based ultrasonic cleaner (cavitron?). Of course she recruited me - and I almost drowned. And then she cut the insides of my mouth taking x-rays. It was free though.

After 40+ years of marriage, we still look back and laugh about that one.
Don't be a lemming.

Stormbringer
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Stormbringer » Tue Feb 26, 2019 9:05 am

I'm looking at a recent statement from my dentist:

Fill a cavity ................... $232
Insurance Pmt ............. (84.80)
Insurance Adjustment ... (101.00)
Balance Due ..................46.20

It looks to me like the insurance company negotiated $101 off the price of filling a cavity. Unless your dentist offers a comparable cash discount, or you want to haggle over the price, the insurance looks like a winner to me if for no other reason than they can negotiate better prices on service.

The discounts seem to be even larger on medical procedures. I was getting physical therapy on my knee and the insurance company was paying $70 a session. When my approved number of sessions ran out, it would have cost me $260 a session to pay the provider directly.
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michaeljc70
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:14 am

SevenBridgesRoad wrote:
Sun Feb 24, 2019 3:26 pm
My dentist (his organization, it's a pretty big practice) offers a membership plan. If you follow a twice-a-year cleaning program, you come out ahead with the membership even if you have nothing else done. You can pay monthly (ACH) or the whole thing once a year (credit card points). They do this instead of individually negotiated discounts, senior discounts and the like. Here's the list of included benefits...

Your Dental Membership provides you with the following:
2 cleanings per year
2 examinations per year
All necessary x-rays
2 emergency visit exams per year during normal business hours (including prescription and necessary x-rays)
Fluoride treatments (1 per adult per year, 2 per child per year)
15-20% discount on all additional services
The practice I have gone to for the last year has a similar plan. The discounts are 30% though. However, I found their "discounted" prices in line with the regular prices at other practices in the area. I think it is just a way to get you to prepay for services and stay at their practice.

michaeljc70
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by michaeljc70 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:21 am

A relative has a Humana dental plan (private, not through work) and is happy with it. I looked at their site and they had 4 plans when I put in my info. Looking at the premiums, it might be worth it if you frequently need dental work. The plans are $7-$47 for me. The $7 plan is just a savings plan. Like others have pointed out, most plans have low maximums.

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friar1610
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by friar1610 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 10:44 am

I'm a military retiree. Years ago I tried the TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), a Delta Dental plan involving an annual fee. It was not at all advantageous for me and my wife so we dropped it and self-insured. I came to the conclusion that dental insurance was basically not worth it, especially if you are a good brusher-flosser. Fast forward to the beginning of this year. The TRDP has been disestablished and now retired military and their spouses are eligible for the same voluntary dental/vision coverages as retired Federal civilian retirees. There are plans with a variety of insurance carriers available. Fees vary by carrier and level of coverage (standard/"gold") I did some research and concluded that the GEHA standard plan would save us a little bit if we just had the 2x a year checkups and cleanings and more if we had to have any major work. (Of course, there would be more out-of-pocket for major work, too.) My current dentist takes the plan as well. I just had my semi-annual checkup/cleaning and it worked just fine. My wife had hers as well. Neither of us had a copay. She will need a couple of crowns this year and there will definitely be copays so we'll have to see how that goes. But, at least as far as this particular plan/insurance carrier goes, I'm satisfied.
Friar1610

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dm200
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by dm200 » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:24 am

1. Check with your dentist's office about any "insurance" or discount plans they are aware of.

2. While most "health/medical" insurance does not include dental, some do - such as Kaiser (in our area). Not really great for us, but much better than nothing.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by jminv » Tue Feb 26, 2019 11:59 am

Leesbro63 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 5:07 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Feb 25, 2019 4:19 pm
I have a hard time believing that virtually any dental care covered by your plan would be financially detrimental to you if you had to pay for it out of pocket. If that's true, then the optimal mathematical solution is to self-insure.

You've been lucky to get out more than you put in. I wouldn't advocate you to push your luck.
Again, one big thing that I'm looking for, beyond the limited coverage, is the fee schedule.
If this is what you're looking for, you should be researching dental discount plans. What these are, in essence, is you paying a fee to obtain network rates - they don't pay for anything. There are lots of them, google 'dental discount plans' and check out the comparison sites. You will want to pick one that includes a dentist you want to work with and that have the highest discounts, ie, lowest negotiated rates for the procedures you will be having. I used used this for a relative that needed some dental work done but didn't have insurance. It worked fine.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by nalor511 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:47 pm

I wanted to revive this thread, because it's recently becoming an issue for me. Of course dental fees aren't *that* steep and I can always pay cash, but it's really annoying to see on my record that when I had Delta they paid the dentist $43 for my cleaning, meanwhile the dentist wants me to pay $93. Things like that. And this is from a dental school clinic. Private dentists in the area I called want around $125 for a cleaning, with no cash discounts.

I looked into Marketplace dental plans, and the middle range plans cost $15/mo/person and unfortunately do not include any dentists in my area with more than 2 stars on yelp. I can get the same plan off marketplace for $7.50/mo with additional co-pays and a deductible type things, but again doesn't have any dentists in my area with more than 2 stars on yelp. The dental school we use is not considered in-network for any of the Marketplace dental plans, so unless I want to roll the dice on a new dentist that's not an avenue to pursue.

I guess this is more of a vent than anything else, but it would sure like to get the same fee schedule as the insurance company gets, and just pay in cash.

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willthrill81
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by willthrill81 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 3:03 pm

nalor511 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:47 pm
I guess this is more of a vent than anything else, but it would sure like to get the same fee schedule as the insurance company gets, and just pay in cash.
Have you looked into the discount dental plans referred to further up the thread? They seemingly allow you to pay the same network rate that insurance companies do. Depending on their cost, they might be the best overall option unless someone rarely consumes much dental care.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

toofache32
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by toofache32 » Sat Nov 09, 2019 5:31 pm

nalor511 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:47 pm
I wanted to revive this thread, because it's recently becoming an issue for me. Of course dental fees aren't *that* steep and I can always pay cash, but it's really annoying to see on my record that when I had Delta they paid the dentist $43 for my cleaning, meanwhile the dentist wants me to pay $93. Things like that. And this is from a dental school clinic. Private dentists in the area I called want around $125 for a cleaning, with no cash discounts.

I looked into Marketplace dental plans, and the middle range plans cost $15/mo/person and unfortunately do not include any dentists in my area with more than 2 stars on yelp. I can get the same plan off marketplace for $7.50/mo with additional co-pays and a deductible type things, but again doesn't have any dentists in my area with more than 2 stars on yelp. The dental school we use is not considered in-network for any of the Marketplace dental plans, so unless I want to roll the dice on a new dentist that's not an avenue to pursue.

I guess this is more of a vent than anything else, but it would sure like to get the same fee schedule as the insurance company gets, and just pay in cash.
You can get the same fee schedule as the insurance company, just provide the dentist the same thing the insurance company gives the dentist....marketing the dentist's name and send 10 new patients every week.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by nalor511 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 1:43 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 3:03 pm
nalor511 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:47 pm
I guess this is more of a vent than anything else, but it would sure like to get the same fee schedule as the insurance company gets, and just pay in cash.
Have you looked into the discount dental plans referred to further up the thread? They seemingly allow you to pay the same network rate that insurance companies do. Depending on their cost, they might be the best overall option unless someone rarely consumes much dental care.
I did look at those discount plans, the rates are pretty close (within 5-10% depending on the item) of what the nearby school charges at their clinic, which is still more than double what the insurance company pays.

And yes, I know the insurance companies send business to dentists.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by Zonian59 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 2:46 am

Re dental schools:
May be less expensive but procedures will take longer due to instructor oversight and multiple checks.

There was a period when I didn't have dental insurance so I thought going to a dental school was a good route to have two crowns replaced.

Experience was bad for two reasons: (1) They said I needed a deep cleaning, fillings and other things done first before they would replace the crowns. It sort of felt like going to auto repair shop to have spark plugs replaced and the technician tells you need to have an entire engine overhaul first.

(2) Blood pressure always read higher at dental school (white coat syndrome?) than at hospital. Dental schools have stricter blood pressure restrictions, i.e., acceptable = 120/80. If higher, they won't touch you for liability reasons. (Didn't have that issue with a regular dentist, though.) Had to get a letter from my primary healthcare doctor stating my blood pressure is within normal range (around 140/80) backed up by 6 months of blood pressure history indicating blood pressure is under control and I am taking medication.

Still blood pressure check at the dental school read higher than their accepted limits and wouldn't accept my regular doctors statement. So the plan to have dental work done at a dental school was aborted.

Had to apply for dental insurance through Delta Dental, wait six months before any major work would be done. Didn't have to put up with blood pressure check rigarmorale at regular dentist and work was done, albeit at considerably higher out of pocket cost even with insurance.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by BogleFanGal » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:19 am

So many suggest a nearby dental school. Last time I checked into the only one in my area a couple of years ago, it was a minimum 1-2 year wait just to see anyone, with a whole LOT of red tape (an initial application, waiting period followed by 2nd application, etc.) first. I immediately gave up. Life's too short.
"Life would be infinitely happier if we could only be born at the age of eighty and gradually approach eighteen." Mark Twain

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by willthrill81 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:23 am

BogleFanGal wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:19 am
So many suggest a nearby dental school. Last time I checked into the only one in my area a couple of years ago, it was a minimum 1-2 year wait just to see anyone, with a whole LOT of red tape (an initial application, waiting period followed by 2nd application, etc.) first. I immediately gave up. Life's too short.
My wife got orthodontia from a school in her teen years and hated it. She had a much better experience with a traditional orthodontist 20 years later.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by jeffyscott » Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:09 pm

nalor511 wrote:
Sat Nov 09, 2019 2:47 pm
I guess this is more of a vent than anything else, but it would sure like to get the same fee schedule as the insurance company gets, and just pay in cash.
Yeah, it's become like health care, where paying directly means paying the highest rates.

Our dentist formerly gave a 10% discount for same day payment by check or cash. We have recently acquired "insurance" and found that the dentist is giving a 25-30% discount to the insurer. The plan will cost us about $480 in premiums and that will also be close to what they will pay out to the dentist. If we were paying cash, we would be spending $660. So the dentist won't take $66 less if we paid directly, but will take about $200 less if a 3rd party is involved in the transaction.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

nalor511
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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by nalor511 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:18 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:09 pm
Yeah, it's become like health care, where paying directly means paying the highest rates.

Our dentist formerly gave a 10% discount for same day payment by check or cash. We have recently acquired "insurance" and found that the dentist is giving a 25-30% discount to the insurer. The plan will cost us about $480 in premiums and that will also be close to what they will pay out to the dentist. If we were paying cash, we would be spending $660. So the dentist won't take $66 less if we paid directly, but will take about $200 less if a 3rd party is involved in the transaction.
Describes my issue exactly, thank you.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by toofache32 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:41 pm

nalor511 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 8:18 pm
jeffyscott wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:09 pm
Yeah, it's become like health care, where paying directly means paying the highest rates.

Our dentist formerly gave a 10% discount for same day payment by check or cash. We have recently acquired "insurance" and found that the dentist is giving a 25-30% discount to the insurer. The plan will cost us about $480 in premiums and that will also be close to what they will pay out to the dentist. If we were paying cash, we would be spending $660. So the dentist won't take $66 less if we paid directly, but will take about $200 less if a 3rd party is involved in the transaction.
Describes my issue exactly, thank you.
I'm still confused what the "issue" is. Insurance provides additional reward to the dentist by providing additional business. Can you send a steady stream of paying patients to your dentist's office? This is how insurance discounts for the dentist are substituted for marketing costs the dentist now does not have to pay. The insurance discount is the cost of marketing. It's overly simplistic and naive to only look at fees. Why don't you negotiate with the dentist the same way the insurance companies do? Are you upset that you have no leverage to negotiate bulk pricing like the insurance company does? You want to pay the price negotiated by someone else who has something to offer, even though you were not part of that negotiation and have nothing additional to offer? Makes no sense.

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Re: Dental Insurance

Post by nalor511 » Mon Nov 11, 2019 1:55 pm

toofache32 wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:41 pm
jeffyscott wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:09 pm
Yeah, it's become like health care, where paying directly means paying the highest rates.

Our dentist formerly gave a 10% discount for same day payment by check or cash. We have recently acquired "insurance" and found that the dentist is giving a 25-30% discount to the insurer. The plan will cost us about $480 in premiums and that will also be close to what they will pay out to the dentist. If we were paying cash, we would be spending $660. So the dentist won't take $66 less if we paid directly, but will take about $200 less if a 3rd party is involved in the transaction.
I'm still confused what the "issue" is. Insurance provides additional reward to the dentist by providing additional business. Can you send a steady stream of paying patients to your dentist's office? This is how insurance discounts for the dentist are substituted for marketing costs the dentist now does not have to pay. The insurance discount is the cost of marketing. It's overly simplistic and naive to only look at fees. Why don't you negotiate with the dentist the same way the insurance companies do? Are you upset that you have no leverage to negotiate bulk pricing like the insurance company does? You want to pay the price negotiated by someone else who has something to offer, even though you were not part of that negotiation and have nothing additional to offer? Makes no sense.
The post I've quoted above yours describes the issue, the same person (me) pays a different rate if I get an insurance company involved, and a much higher rate if I pay directly. No negotiation will happen in my experience, rates are "set", and they won't lower it a penny for a private person, but magically others (insurance) pay less.

Medical and dental care is not like buying other things. It's not like a car dealer where I can take my time, go in, and shop around for exactly the options and features I want, and buy from whoever I please. You're in pain, or you have a problem that you don't know exactly what the problem is, and you can't see inside your own mouth for the most part, so there's a level of trust involved. Part of that trust is in regards to care, and part is in regards to not overcharging.

It's more similar to an auto mechanic, but not exactly. To some degree you can shop around for prices, but when something happens to your car, and you don't know what's wrong, you take it to the one you "trust" and you expect they won't upsell you unnecessary services or overcharge you for necessary ones. Now imagine you find out they charge you 216% of what the guy next to you is paying for the same exact job. You wouldn't be miffed?

And it's not like I can just call and ask how much X treatment costs, everything is hyperspecific and can change while you're in the chair, and estimates received beforehand mean practically nothing. They don't know what's wrong or what they'll do until they get in there. And to find out that no matter what the treatment is, I'm paying 216% what I was (the insurance company was on my behalf) last year, yeah, doesn't feel so great. The work being done is the same. It doesn't suddenly take longer or cost more in materials now that I'm paying directly. They don't have to go out and pay some 3rd party recruiter to reacquire me as a patient.

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