Ahh, The Dentist

Last modified on September 14th, 2010

I just got back from the dentist. Truthfully, it’s been nearly two years since my last visit. Previously I’ve always had really great health and dental, but since leaving my last job I haven’t had anything other than basic MSP. I debated getting a plan at one point, but they were all around $100/mo for anything useful, and most of them had a graduated three-year scale before you received full (i.e. 80%) coverage. So it really didn’t make sense financially.

But as a result, I’ve been putting off going, since dropping a few hundred dollars on a cleaning hasn’t really excited me. That said, I finally caved in and decided to get a basic cleaning and checkup done, which cost me around $150. It would have cost a lot more, but I declined all the extras like X-rays and what not, primarily because I’m taking off in a few months and probably won’t call that dentist home when I return.

I haven’t had a cavity in about seven years now. I attribute that mostly to the fact that over the same time period I haven’t really consumed sugar in any quantity. If it’s in a meal, then I’ll eat it. But I don’t add sugar to coffee, and I don’t drink any sugar or HFCS-based drinks.

As expected, I am still cavity free. Unfortunately though I have two ceramic fillings from a long time ago that need replacing, so I have to get that done soon. That will run me $275, but at least then my teeth will be as good as new again before I take off.

So, $425 for two years worth of work on my teeth. That amounts to roughly $17/mo, which is a lot cheaper than most of the insurance plans I was looking at (many of which only cover 50% in the first year or two).

2 responses to “Ahh, The Dentist”

  1. Duncan says:

    Good to know. Insurance is a zero sum business so I’m sure they count on making a profit on premiums.

    It’s interesting to hear about your experience going without insurance. It seems like you have more power to negotiate up front when paying out of pocket.

    Finally, there’s nothing to stop one from taking out insurance just prior to any major procedure. I guess you’d just need to read the rules first, but it’d seem you could buy insurance only if you’re certain you’d need it.

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Most insurance has a 3 month waiting period, and then a several year graduated scale before paying you out (i.e. 50% in the first year, 60% in the second, and the 80% in the last). So it doesn’t really work for last minute purchases.

    Unfortunately you don’t really have much room to negotiate since all dentists use the insurance-supplied fee schedules, and generally all charge exactly the same.

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