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Friday, December 23, 2011

No Insurance Brings Dental Woes

My mother always told me that the most attractive thing to her about a guy was his bright beautiful smile. “Clean, straight, white teeth really turn me on,” she would say with a blush.

Ignoring the fact that the thought of my mother being turned on is disturbing, I do believe that she has a point. I don’t feel like they have to be perfectly straight, but clean, white and healthy is definitely a plus for any guy wishing to make my list of the most attractive men in the world.

Men and women alike are naturally drawn to other men and women that have bright smiles. Whether it is for a romantic relationship or just for a friendship, good dental health and hygiene are attractive.

The problem is that dental care can be expensive at times. In many cases, good dental care is beyond the family budget, ranging from a hundred or hundreds for a typical cleaning and exam, to a thousand or thousands for a root canal or braces. Thank goodness, many jobs offer dental insurance.

Consider yourself lucky if your job does. Most plans offer sizable savings on the cost of dental work, only requiring a small co-pay for services rendered or maybe even no co-pay at all. Premiums for dental insurance through your employment are taken out of your paycheck and are usually very small, ranging from $6-$12 a week.

Now the story is a bit different if you have to purchase dental insurance direct. The website I checked out allowed me to compare plans for four different dental insurance companies at a time out of a list of eighteen in my zip code area.

Most of the plans I compared offered full pay or minimal co-pay of exams and cleanings, averaged about 80% pay of x-rays, fillings and extractions, 50% pay of root canals and dentures, but only three of the eight included orthodontists services. My research tells me this is about the norm.

I didn’t see any plans with higher maximums than $1000 per person per year and the premiums averaged about $80-$100 per month for a family plan. Although these plans are well worth the money, what if you simply can’t afford these premiums?

Every families budget is laid out with a list of priorities starting with rent or mortgage, utilities and groceries, car payment(s) and insurance(s), clothing, taxes and other insurances, credit card payments or other installment bills, savings plans and last but not least recreation expenses.

In today’s times of money crunching, where do you fit another insurance premium? You’ve probably heard the expression “insurance poor”. So what happens to your smile when it doesn’t seem to make it to the list of priorities?

I went through a difficult financial situation about twenty years ago after a divorce and the dental insurance premium was one of the first things to go. I reasoned that I had always taken good care of my teeth, so it won’t be a problem. But when it came time for my six month’s checkup, I didn’t have the money, so I skipped it, again reasoning that I could take care of my teeth at home just as good as my dentist.

The next six month’s checkup rolled around and I could afford it now, but I was out of the habit and since I had skipped the last checkup, my dentist did not send me a reminder, so I forgot to visit him.

A year passed and I was eating a blueberry muffin one day, when I felt a very hard crunch. Hmmm…blueberries aren’t usually hard and crunchy. I examined the contents of my mouth and to my despair; I discovered a small piece of a tooth. I called my dentist right away and I ended up with a $1400 double root canal bill.

Like any good dentist, he did explain the prices and procedures very carefully to me prior to performing his service, but I was just wishing that I had kept my dental insurance. That was eighteen years ago, I wonder what that charge would be today.

So, the moral to the story is this. Don’t drop your dental insurance and if you don’t have some…get some!

Sources:
Dentalinsurance.com, American Dental Association

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