Dental Insurance vs. Dental Plan


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right here, right now
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 22, 2012 - 12:46pm PT
Traditional Dental Insurance for the individual who does not belong to a group plan through work is a zero-sum game.
Period with a capital P if you need lots of real work in any given year.
Monthly premiums north of $100 per month and yearly payout caps below $2000.

So, alternatively, where's the catch with these Dental Plans?
***(This is NOT Dental Insurance: it is access to dentists who discount their services)Ie.
Fees are $100 to $150 PER YEAR and 20% to 70% discounts provided by dentists who participate.
Hard-sell closers on the phone selling the plans: clearly at that yearly rate they are nothing but a referral service to dentists who wish to discount their rates in order to get a steady flow of customers/patients.

So where's the catch? What's the profile of this group of participating dentists look like?
(Obviously I'll be interviewing a bunch of them to help answer this question).

For instance:
Are the participating dentists largely those just out of school looking for a start?
Is this also where the dentists with bad records go to get referrals?
With perhaps a small sprinkling of sympathetic dentists who are simply philanthropic?

Is it perhaps likely that the more your needs trend within the specialties the more likely you would want to stay out of said plans and their dentists?

(Third option for the indigent, which I essentially am although my wife works, is state-sponsored dental aid for which I've qualified in the past but the restorative dentist whom I have seen for the past 13 years says that their efforts have in my case, been palliative at best).

For the dentists reading this:
I have severe bruxism, have undergone deep planing/oral surgery in all four quadrants to abate periodontal disease along with multiple bone grafts, use a night guard/splint which needs adjustment once or twice per year, have had braces to straighten everything out and been equilibrated multiple times. I'm currently looking at 11 onlays, and need an implant. I am beset with a highly acidic ecology so I'm susceptible to chemical erosion and plenty of buildup. I need and get cleanings four times per year: two with the Perio and two with the General/Restorative dentist. Over the last year and a half I skipped doing some resin/composite fillings and have gone through the dentin, so no more stopgaps. Those teeth are damn near flat anyhow so it's time to do the Full Monty.

The bill for the needed onlays and tooth removal/bone graft/implant is about $18,000. Essentially cash pay in my case.
Same as it's ever been, that's with health insurance in place, and with multiple ongoing health issues requiring a cash-out refinance of the house to pay for prior medical adventures.

So I've been with these two dentists (Perio and Restorative) for 13 years and although I've been confident with them I need to shop around a little bit downtown you know what I mean?

Question for the dentists please:
Given my ongoing deficit from bruxism and attendant and unrelenting susceptibility to periodontal disease will general dentistry and a perio suffice or should I wisely stay confined to one who practices/specializes in restorative dentistry to do these onlays and keep an eye on the stabilization of my condition in the future? If so, are the plans and their pool of dentists going to be a liability for me?

If I want to continue with the foundation in which I've already invested and keep my teeth is venturing into these plans an insensible risk?

Do any of you readers in Boulder Colorado have similar difficulties (bruxism and periodontal disease) and also use a dentist who belongs to one of these plans whom you might recommend?

Who out there has an experience with dental plans (not dental insurance) and their participating dentists?

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Nov 22, 2012 - 12:57pm PT
I see my dentist once a year.

Cleaning and x-eays run about $160.

Last year, I needed a filling replaced. That was about $150.

The most expensive thing ever done in my mouth was a crown, which cost about $900.

I don't see how dental insurance is a good deal for me.

Trad climber
a semi lucid consciousness
Nov 22, 2012 - 02:15pm PT
Yes, being in AZ, and recently having some bad tooth pain, I am going to attempt to go to Mexico. I have friends who had great results at a lot less of the cost. I'm nervous about it, but will be trying out this "Dental Plan" soon...
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Nov 22, 2012 - 02:19pm PT
I swear by Mexico for dental, TJ dentists are great

Trad climber
greater Boss Angeles area
Nov 22, 2012 - 04:22pm PT
You can't complain about corporations off-shoring their workforce to save a few bucks, if you're willing to do the exact same thing with your dental work.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Nov 22, 2012 - 05:36pm PT
Difference between sending jobs offshore and dental work offshore is that government policy encourages off-shoring jobs, just ask Mittens.

Government policy does not encourage off-shoring dental work.

Social climber
So Cal
Nov 22, 2012 - 06:58pm PT
So reduce the corporate tax rates and remove the primary incentive to offshore jobs.

Dental insurance is usually a scam.

You end up paying half or so and you can make the same deal as the insurance companies with your dentist yourself.

Jon Beck

Trad climber
Nov 22, 2012 - 07:28pm PT
It is not high tax rates here that push jobs offshore. US corporations pay taxes on offshore profits (with a credit for foreign taxes paid). However, they are able to defer these taxes indefinitely if the profits are kept offshore. Because of deferral there is an incentive to go offshore rather than remain in the United States. Eliminate deferral is all that is needed. Rommney wanted to eliminate taxes on offshore profits.

Sheldon Adelson pretended to donate money to Gingrich for Newts support of Israel, truth is Adelson has billions of dollars offshore from his Macao casinos, taxes are deferred on those profits. Adelson desperately wants to bring that money back here, but will owe millions in taxes. Adelson makes like one million dollars an hour off his casinos, and wants to pay no taxes.

from out where the anecdotes roam
Nov 22, 2012 - 08:03pm PT
two words: tribal enrollment

Gym climber
Nov 22, 2012 - 09:50pm PT
Dental insurance coupled with a flex spending account can help but I have found that every time I go to the dentist it costs me a grand to open my mouth.

Floss more I know. Last month I had a root canal and I broke a molar so bad it had to be pulled a week ago. That was not fun.

Mountain climber
Nov 26, 2012 - 07:16am PT
That's quite a read but those are the things why I didn't avail for dental insurance. I always pay out of the pocket whenever I see the dentist which is a couple of times in a year.

Nov 26, 2012 - 08:32am PT
let me add one more word to your two

Way out there....
Nov 26, 2012 - 10:28am PT

INSURANCE?........PLAN?..........WTF IS THAT?

My teeth are rotting out of my head and I owe my dentist sucks sometimes.

from out where the anecdotes roam
Nov 26, 2012 - 11:00am PT
well if you can't muster sufficient blood quantum to be elevated above the fray, try this:

within the army reserve are detachments of dentists (most in competing private practices from a given regional area) who go out on summer field exercises as part of their reservist duties, descending upon remote (presumably) under served areas to set up clinics that take on all comers in hopes of testing and demonstrating readiness to perform in war.

that's how i got a couple wisdom teeth out ... anaktuvuc pass, in the brooks range.

seems like a long way to travel without an appointment, but i knew there would be cancellations cuz a native village contains probably the least underserved bunch of teeth they could have encountered.

i was four hours in the chair. the dentist took to kneeling on my arm rests in what became a blood and sweat soaked smock. other dentists would casually ease on over for a look see and quickly recoil with a grimace and groan.

though i felt like a well hooked marlin, i declined any further anesthetic so numbed was i by gratitude for such a fortuitous opportunity to avoid healthcare debtor's hell.

as a result of my case they added three more tools to the equipment list.

when he was done my guy was hustled off the field of battle directly to shower and recovery accompanied by a kind of murmured ovation of respect from his peers
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Nov 26, 2012 - 12:00pm PT
Dude! Quit torching money like you got it and end this vanity quest! Get the pliers and few hundred bucks and sort your self out. There are tons of these guys all over. Grab the yellow pages, give up on corn on the cob, and start embracing apple sauce.

Credit: Russ Walling

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 26, 2012 - 12:10pm PT
Take care of your teeth...if you don't it's a zero gum game.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Nov 26, 2012 - 12:12pm PT
Yeah locker, and they got hungry a half hour after he worked on them,..

Hey Roy,
good to hear from you, sorry about the teeth.
I just had 2 molars pulled and will get implants on the "Mutual of Ron" plan.
Sux, but not chewing sux worse.

Sport climber
Nov 26, 2012 - 12:23pm PT
in sf $1700 for a canal, $1200 or so for a crown. $3k for a tooth? seems the going rate for admittedly high end work here is $1k/hr. given most (my) dental coverage maxes at $1k/yr after only paying 80% in the first place, a lot of that is coming out of pocket. guess that new bike will have to wait. healthcare reform anyone?


Sport climber
mammoth lakes ca
Nov 26, 2012 - 01:01pm PT
Locker...That Gundam style is a good workout...I'm all sweaty...
Patrick Sawyer

Originally California now Ireland
Nov 26, 2012 - 01:16pm PT
My late mother retired from dentistry after 50 years, got her degree in 1942 and retired in 1992, looking in people's mouths for 50, no thanks.

However, after my dad died in 1956, she had four children to look after (me, 5 months old, Mary 18 months, Mac five years and Casey, 12. Nancy was lost at seven in 1953 to polio).

So it was impractical for her to have her own practice (she never remarried), looking after kids, patients, staff, accounts, suppliers, etc, so went to work for other dentists. She never charged the heavy sums one sees nowadays (especially here in Ireland. Many people either go to Northern Ireland or a dental holiday to places like Budapest).

Where's Guido on this thread? Being a dentist, Joe may have some answers for you Tarbuster.

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