Dental Self-Insuring Update: Why Flossing Is Profitable

A recent post at Miserly Bastard reminded to post about this – Like him, I don’t have dental insurance because I don’t think it’s worth it. It fits into my philosophy to only insure against large losses, especially as most plans have a cap on benefits (mine is $1,500 annually).

I recently went in for another semi-annual cleaning, exam, and bitewing x-rays for about $150. Last time I didn’t have to do any x-rays so it was only $100. So my total dental costs are $250 for the year, and I’m going to claim it on our Flexible Spending Account so it’s basically pre-tax. That’s almost a $400 annual savings over paying the insurance premiums and deductibles.

Now, some people have heavily subsidized dental insurance (like my wife) and/or poor dental health, so it may not be worth it. But I recommend finding out the details anyways and perhaps running the numbers. In my case – best case scenario is saving $400 a year. Worst case – I need some kind of surgery and max out the benefit of $1,500, which is only a real loss of $1,100 since I have to use $400 of that benefit on the regular stuff anyways.

If I restrict it only to either gaining $400 or losing $1,100, according to strict odds I should only self-insure if I think there is greater than a 73.3% chance that I won’t need surgery. I’m pretty confident my chances are better than that 🙂 Add in the fact that a loss won’t be catastrophic (you won’t want to use this method for life insurance), and I’m happy with my choice.

As a side note, if you are paying cash, you can haggle with the doctor. Some are flexible, some are not. I deem the prices pretty fair at my current dentist so chose not to, but I did ask if they had a discount for paying cash – and they had one for 5% off. Not enormous, but every bit helps.

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