What Can Happen When You Don’t Have Dental Insurance

Very few people actually LIKE paying for health insurance, myself included. However, there is a type of insurance that I recently do not mind paying one bit- dental insurance.

How Dental Insurance Works

There are different types of dental insurance, but the most common typically requires you to pay a deductible dictated by the plan, and the plan will cover up to a certain amount per year for services. For each service, the dentist and insurance provider have a rate that’s agreed upon, which is typically less than the full price of the service. The plan also (usually) only covers a certain percentage of the negotiated price for the service you receive. For example, a dentist’s price for a filling may be $319, but the negotiated rate with your insurance provider may only be $200. Your plan may cover 90% of fillings, which would then require you to pay the other 10%, or $20, for it.

Understanding how dental insurance works is certainly important, but what I think may be even more important is understanding why you should have it. I am a walking advertisement for dental insurance.

What Can Happen When You Are Uninsured

About three years ago, i turned 26 and was no longer able to stay on my parent’s health insurance plan, which included dental coverage. At the same time, i was also in graduate school, only teaching very part-time. I did some research and found a major medical plan through the health insurance marketplace and decided it wouldn’t be a big deal to forego the dental coverage until i finished grad school (i needed every penny i could save!). This was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my adult life.

Two and a half years later, I was offered dental insurance through a new job and decided to enroll. I found myself a dentist, scheduled a check-up, went to said check-up, and got some pretty terrible dental news. Because I put off getting dental insurance (and therefore put off going to the dentist), I have found myself with dozens of procedures- ranging from fillings to root canals to crowns- that need to be done.

You’re probably thinking, “but you have dental insurance to pay for that,” and that’s partly true. However, dental insurance only covers up to a certain amount each year, like I mentioned. For my plan, this is $1500, and with all of the work I need done, that number will far be exceeded… exceeded by thousands.

Words of Advice

My dentist highly recommends that I don’t postpone these procedures until my insurance restarts next year (believe me, I asked). He tells me that “if you’re going to wait for insurance, you’re always going to be waiting for insurance.” At first I found his words to be harsh, but now I completely agree. If I just wait and have a little done when the insurance covers it, I’ll always be trying to catch up, which will likely just breed more problems in the meantime.

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