Over the years, I have seen a number of patients who quit going to the dentist because they do not have dental insurance. It’s a common scenario, particularly for those who don’t understand how dental insurance works, and can result in a number of issues for patients as the years go on.
Take, for instance, a 26-year-old woman who comes in to have her teeth whitened. She finally has dental insurance after six years without it and decides now is the time to get this done. However, after a series of x-rays, we find that she has cavities between all of her teeth – a $10,000 expense to treat – and her insurance will only cover $1,500.
Sadly, if this woman had paid for regular cleanings out of pocket during the period she didn’t have dental insurance, her cost each year would have been very manageable – equal to the price of a couple of concert tickets, a trip to Busch Gardens or a latte at Starbucks a few times per week, for example.
With this in mind, below are three myths that I believe are keeping patients from dental health.
Myth #1: Dental insurance works like medical insurance
Fact: While medical insurance is good to have in case of emergency, dental insurance is more for the little things such as regular cleanings and minor fillings. When dental emergencies occur, insurance will only cover a small portion of the fee. The good news is that these disasters can easily be avoided with regular brushing, flossing and dental checkups.
Myth #2: Dental insurance will cover all of your dental costs
Fact: Dental insurance is more like a coupon. Unlike medical insurance where you have a deductible and a co-pay, dental insurance covers only a set portion of your costs. This is not dependent on how much you have paid out, or on whether you are seeing a dentist in your insurance network. Whether you are in network or out of network, your dental insurance will still only cover up to around $1,500 a year.
Myth #3: You can treat a $10,000 problem $1,500 at a time
In the scenario above, the young woman might suggest that we treat her cavities $1,500 at a time using her insurance coverage so that she does not have to pay the $10,000 out of pocket. However, if we focus on just a small portion of the problem each year, the cavities will spiral out of control and create larger, more complex (and costly) issues that will have to be treated down the road.
My hope is that by debunking common myths about dental insurance, I can help patients achieve dental health. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to the dentist – whether you have insurance or not – call us at (813) 689-4226 to schedule a checkup.