There was an old Clint Eastwood western named The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Dental insurance is seldom good, often bad, and usually ugly. I have been dealing with dental insurance companies since 1978. With this background, I will give my personal opinion. Again, this is solely my opinion. I say this as a disclaimer, since insurance companies never like bad press.
Dental insurance began as a rider on health insurance after WWII. It was a way to provide a TAX FREE BENEFIT for returning vets and their families. Again, dental insurance was a FREE benefit.
And then things changed. In 1978 when I started my private practice, the typical dental reimbursement was $1,000 to $1,500 a year payable at 90% with no questions asked. Now the typical plan has similar yearly benefits with deductibles, exclusions, co-pay requirements, and numerous other roadblocks. In 1978 the benefit would cover approximately 3 crowns, exams, radiographs (x-rays), prophylactic hygiene (cleaning) visits and a few fillings for a total out of pocket expense of …drumroll…$100 tp $150 a year. Now in 2020, maybe a crown , a couple of cleanings, a free toothbrush and up to $750 out of pocket. I taught at the UOP Dugoni School of Dentistry for one to two days per week for nearly five years. I left that position 18 months ago. A second year dental student doing their first ever dental crown with me would charge out a fee for $842. As a Delta PPO provider, my contracted fee is …drumroll…$842, the same as The second year dental student. Now a secret. This is why so few dentists in the county contract out to Delta as a PPO provider anymore.
Another secret. Dental insurance plans dispense only a portion of your premium as a benefit to dental providers. Some dispense less than 50% for your benefit. I can provide the literature to back up that statement. The rest goes to “profit and overhead”. Insurance companies NEVER lose money in the long run. How did Warren Buffet make most of his initial profit? Insurance companies. Guess who owns Geico Insurance Company? Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
So, what “should I do” one may ask. If your employer provides a premier dental package at no charge, then go for it. GOOD. If your employer deducts all/part of the premium from your salary, then do the math. BAD. If you purchase dental insurance on your own, especially through a broker who gets a cut, call us and we will help you understand the math. UGLY. When would I purchase dental coverage for myself and family? Never! When would I purchase a contract with a dental HMO plan? Never! Nerver!
Please remember, as a disclaimer, this is just all my opinion. I have been wrong before, just ask my wife Gina.
Lastly, for the best part, if you are entering an enrollment period or otherwise pondering dental benefit plans, please give us a call and Gina can give you a suggestion of the one company that we would rate GOOD.
Richard Doyle DDS