Since I haven't been to the dentist in about 2 and a 1/2 years, and Stacey hasn't been in 5 or 6 years, we're starting to plan to go to the dentist. Since we don't have dental insurance, this post is personally one that I have been examining with great interest.
Cost of Premiums: Two alternatives will be examined.
1. BCBS Dental Insurance - True dental insurance for an individual and spouse through Arkansas Blue Cross/Blue Shield is $55.20 per month, or $662.40 per year.
2. Dental discount groups - These discount groups are not true insurance, but can be purchased for pretty cheap and give considerable savings at some dentists. One example is Dentemax Discount Dental Plan available through dentalplans.com. The cost of this plan is $150 per year (and that includes any dependent children).
Expenses in Need Without Insurance: I called the dentist office I plan to go to for the first time here soon for prices. $130 for a new patient exam and x-rays, $50 for the cleaning. Assuming both Stacey and I do an initial visit, plus an extra visit each (say $80 for that visit, cleaning and exam), and that we have one filling (at $100...estimated based on this dentist's prices compared with those here) the price for all of this without any discounts or insurance would be: $620. However, I don't think the extra visits or a filling would really be that much from this dentist.
Cost of Premiums + Deductible in Use
1. BCBS Insurance - There is a $50 deductible for fillings and other covered restorative services. Coverage is 80% for preventative and minor restorative services. Thus for the visits listed above with this insurance: $114 'co-insurance' + $50 deductible + $662.40 = $826.40.
2. Discount Plan - In depth checkup twice at $33 each; 6 month checkup twice at $22 each; Adult Teeth Cleaning 4 times at $43 each; One filling at $65. Total cost: $347 at the visits + $150 for the plan = $497.
Conclusion: Dental Insurance really doesn't make sense, unless you are going to be needing major restorative service (in which case the BCBS plan above only pays 50%, and pays out a maximum of $1,000 per member per year . . . so it still might not be worth it). A dental discount plan may be very beneficial, depending upon where you live. I would have to drive at least an hour to find a dentist which accepts the discount plans described, so it's not worth it to us. Since I've only had one filling ever in my life, I don't expect to need any for a lot longer. So dental insurance and discount plans aren't for me. Instead, we'll try to deposit a little extra each month into savings, and spread it out over time in that way, “self-insuring.”
NOTE: Over the following weeks I will return to this series (Insurance: Is It REALLY Worth It?). I believe it will be beneficial to examine car insurance, cell phone insurance, and extended warranties or service protection plans, although perhaps not in as great of detail. If you have other types of insurance you would like me to examine, post a comment, and I'll consider doing so. This is the last post concerning insurances relating to health, though.