Sunday, May 17, 2009


I currently have a patient who has great dental insurance coverage. Unfortunately, she will be losing that coverage at the end of this month. This is a concern since she still has many treatment needs that will need to be addressed next year.

Currently, she pays $96 per month. Her insurance plan covers $1500 of work, and 80% of prosthodontic procedures (things like dentures, crowns, bridges). This is a very good plan, one of the best we see at the school. However, at $96 per month, she is paying $1152 per year for a $1500 plan she unfortunately will not max out. She is losing her insurance because of retirement. I am assuming she has carried this plan for the bulk of her career but had a 15 year absence from the dentist due to a dental phobia.

My point? Dental insurance isn't insurance at least in the way medical insurance is insurance. Going without medical insurance could be catastrophic. Having dental insurance can be very helpful. However, many of my patients, friends, and even family members have used lack of insurance as an excuse for not seeking regular preventive care or even receiving ideal care. If you can't afford insurance, paying for an annual exam and cleaning (and maybe small filling or two) will probably be cheaper than the premium on an insurance plan. This is assuming you do not have huge dental problems.

Dental insurance is a great thing, but shouldn't be used as a crutch for not seeking appropriate care. For my patient and others like her, she can continue her dental care by paying herself the $96 per month and putting it towards her dental treatment. It may not be all available to her right away, but with some planning and perhaps a payment plan, she may actually save herself some money.


shawn said...

Welcome to the real world.. I know what you are saying.. the whole "I don't have insurance" thing gets old... and to think that you patient didn't use what she could have for years... sad... just sad..

ceo said...

So I am curious... what is she going to do?