There are a lot of situations in life where insurance is a very, very good thing, but is dental insurance one of them?
If a storm rips the roof off of your house and you need a new one, insurance is great. If you end up in the hospital and need a $100,000+ surgery, health insurance is a Godsend.
Sure you have to pay monthly premiums, but when life circumstances hit, you’re generally quite satisfied to pay a relatively small deductible and have your insurance foot the majority of the bill.
Unfortunately, dental insurance is often the glaring exception to the “insurance is good rule.”
The 3 Major Problems We See With Dental Insurance
Problem 1: Benefits Lag Behind Inflation
Once upon a time, dental insurance was actually seen as a pretty good deal for both patients and dentists alike. After all, if you go back to the late 1960s, dental insurance typically maxed out benefits at around $1,000.
Now 40-50 years ago that was a pretty good chunk of change in regards to dental care. You could get a lot of needed dental work done for $1,000. However, that is no longer the case.
In fact, adjusted for inflation, the benefit ceiling in 2016 should be roughly $8,000! Unfortunately, the benefit ceiling is still stuck around $1,000 or so for most plans, which is unacceptable.
Problem 2: More Procedures are Available Now
Back in the 1960s & 70s, patients had very few options available to them. You basically either had a tooth pulled, a metal crown, or a filling. However, with advancements in modern dental technology, the amount of value dentists are able to offer to their patients these days has increased exponentially.
Whether it’s dental implants, porcelain crowns, bridges, veneers and more, these procedures are able to give patients a much better outcome, which comes with a certain cost.
More often than not, dental insurance companies will deny coverage of these more modern procedures, even when they are necessary to improve your overall health and well-being.
At the end of the day, dental insurance companies dictate what they will pay for and what they won’t, and thus are in complete control of your dental health. Since it is simply a contract between you and your insurance company, they do not have to pay for certain benefits if they do not want to. It’s rather ruthless, but true.
Problem 3: Not All Dentists are Equal in Terms of Experience & Expertise
In the eyes of most dental insurance companies “a dentist, is a dentist, is a dentist.”
Obviously, this isn’t the case. Dentists are not a commodity. There are dentists all across the country with tremendous skill and expertise, and then there are thousands of others that just get by with minimal knowledge or continuing education.
Yet somehow, most dental insurance companies say these two very different types of dentists are one in the same from a benefits perspective.
The dentist making the deal with the insurance company may have to take a cut of up to 30-50%.
In order for them to stay in business, they have to see more people, do more procedures, and cut costs in some manner. And even though it is a managed care system, dental benefits still act as a coupon and not insurance.
So Should You Buy Dental Insurance? Is it Worth It?
Unless your employer offers an incredible dental insurance plan, we feel it likely isn’t worth it. You’re essentially just prepaying for dental services, and since most benefit ceilings are low compared to the cost of care, and fail to cover many common procedures, you’re probably better off setting some money aside and paying as you go.
We often tell patients that dental insurance is like a gift card; it is good for a certain amount, but once you “max it out,” it isn’t good anymore.
In reality, the only “goal” of dental insurance is to keep you where you are in terms of routine cleanings and small repairs. If you need any type of extensive dental needs, it’s worthless.
Never let an impersonal dental insurance company dictate your treatment. At Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, we care about our patients, and want you to receive the best dental care possible. We offer a variety of financing options to help patients who aren’t able to pay out of pocket, because while proper dental care isn’t cheap, it’s vital to your overall health and well-being.