A History of Dental Insurance

Dental insurance was invented in 1954. Surprisingly, the maximum it covered then was the same as it covers today, 60 years later. An average of $1,000 – $1,500 dollars per year. If your policy had kept up with inflation it would cover over $9,000 of dental care per family member. Sadly, while the premiums rise, the annual maximum allowances remain the same, and as employers struggle with the rising cost of medical benefits, dental benefits get reduced. Here are some of the limitations and changes we are seeing on some plans:

  • Plans that only cover children (be sure to read the fine print)
  • Only 1 or 2 cleanings covered per year (even though many people have gum disease and the ADA recommends 4 visits per year for these patients to control reinfection)
  • White fillings and tooth-colored crowns not covered
  • Tooth extractions not covered
  • Won’t allow the replacement of missing teeth if they’ve been missing for too long
  • Won’t allow the replacement of broken down crowns or fillings
  • Preventive coverage only
  • High deductibles and waiting periods (you can’t use it right away

Imagine insurance this way: On a scale of 1 to 10, if you’d like your oral health to be an 8 or 9, your insurance is really only willing to fit the bill for a 2 or 3.

The bad news: Dental insurances are completely different than medical insurances–they will try every trick to not pay for your treatment. Having insurance is helpful, but it’s really not meant to cover anything beyond basic care. And the average person has needs that go beyond $1,000 of annual coverage.

The good news: We have an in-house benefit plan called the hygiene membership that covers your family’s preventive care needs, as well as many no-interest flexible payment options for other types of treatment. So if you don’t want to deal with insurance, you certainly don’t have to.

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