My Brand New Minty Fresh Dental Plan

Having teeth can be expensive!

2013 has been a year of changes for me. Up until very recently, I’ve never had any type of health insurance whatsoever. I took what I believe to be a calculated risk by forgoing any type of insurance and used those savings to invest in my future.

Just a few months ago I finally caved in and purchased health insurance. While it’s a monthly expenditure I’d rather not have, it’s one that has finally become necessary as I get a little older and health insurance becomes mandatory due to the Affordable Care Act. However, I don’t believe the costs associated with health insurance will in any way impede my ability to retire early.

Taking it now a step further I have very recently signed up for a Dental Plan. I made this move because I visited a dentist a couple months back and was advised I have a total of four cavities. One was rather urgent, three were not. I took care of the urgent one right away, but that particular tooth started causing me some pain after the composite filling. I’ve since been told I need a root canal, but now that the pain has completely subsided I’ll likely seek a second opinion. Obviously taking on the cost of three other fillings and a possible root canal by myself would be against my frugal ways so I decided to seek out a little assistance.

The dental plan I purchased is through Humana Dental. It’s the HI215 Dental Value Plan. It costs $12.99 per month and you can see some of the boring details here. There are no annual maximums, no waiting period, no deductibles, and two included teeth cleanings per year. So, this plan basically pays for itself through the included cleanings! Good stuff. I signed up for this plan through ehealthinsurance.com, which is linked above. I also used ehealthinsurance.com to locate the HDHP that I purchased back in April, so I can say nothing but good things about this service.

Basically, the plan has a lengthy list of every possible dental necessity one may need along with the associated co-pays. For instance, I was quoted $1,800 for my root canal and crown. This plan instead requires a co-pay of $270 for the root canal itself and another $410 for the crown. That’s a total of $680. There may be some other associated, unforeseen costs not factored in for this particular example, but the savings for dental care in the future will be immense.

You’ll now see this added expense in my future income/expense reports, so I wanted to write a short post explaining the new expenditure. Again, I’d rather not have a recurring monthly bill to the tune of $143 for healthcare and dental insurance costs, but the scenario where I need urgent and expensive medical care and have to shell out for it out of pocket is something I don’t even want to imagine! I’ve worked too hard over the last 3+ years to build up a six-figure portfolio to see it vanish instantly because of an unseen health issue that befalls me. At least I have protected my downside to a significant degree and I feel comfortable with that.

How about you? Carry dental insurance? Is it worth it? Is this plan through Humana decent?

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit: digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Comments

  1. says

    I just went to my dentist for a routine 6 month cleaning, it’s usually about $50 or so but once a year they do x-rays to look for possible cavities. That bumped my bill up to a bit over $70. Totally worth it in my book for healthy teeth. I’m still under my mom and dad’s insurance (which is signature) not sure how much if any it cuts off of the price to be honest though. I’ll have to ask next time i go. How did that root canal go? Sounds painful.

    • says

      Captain,

      Definitely worth the fee for healthy teeth. I’ve always been lucky to have good teeth and up until this last check-up I’ve never had any issues. Good for you for taking care of those suckers!

      I haven’t had the root canal yet. The pain I experienced after the composite filling has now abated. If the pain stays away then I’ll likely keep the status quo. A root canal is something I’d rather avoid. :)

      Best regards!

  2. says

    Back in my college days one of my cousins got into a bad car accident. He was in his young 20s at the time but didn’t have health insurance. That was an unfortunate choice on his part, because the financial consequences of the accident significantly altered the course of his life. He was unable to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars of hospital bills out of his own pocket — bills that would largely have been covered in some form by health insurance. He had to declare bankruptcy and his credit was ruined. This prevented him from getting hired at the employers he really wanted to work for. It also made it impossible for him to get a loan for a number of years. To this day he is living a life which I think is only a shadow of his true (pre-accident) potential.

    At a minimum I think everyone should have some form of catastrophic health insurance. If you think about it, that’s really the point of any insurance — coverage from some unexpected catastrophe. It doesn’t matter how young you are or well you take care of yourself — nobody is immune from being hit by a bus. Unfortunately many young people learn this lesson the hard way.

    • says

      The Executioner,

      I hear ya. Although I took a calculated risk there and came out ahead, it could have easily went the other way and left me in ruin. It probably wasn’t the smartest decision now looking back on it, but I’m lucky it worked out as it did.

      Sorry to hear of your cousin’s misfortune. Never nice to see anyone come down with a case of bad luck, compounded by lack of insurance. That really sucks. I hope that one day he can fully overcome those setbacks.

      Best wishes!

  3. Spoonman says

    I think you’re playing it right, DM. Does your insurance include a free set of x-rays each year? Many dentists insist on taking x-rays once a year so it’s nice to have a plan that includes that. In any case, $12.99 per months sounds pretty nice to me. I haven’t looked into that minor detail yet so it’s nice to to see that it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

    • says

      Spoonman,

      I’ll have to look into the x-rays. I’m not sure if those are included or not. I just had an x-ray done, so I won’t need another one for at least a year.

      Yeah, dental insurance isn’t very expensive. The coverage with this plan is pretty comprehensive for very little money. Although, if I were living in a cheaper country and FI I would forgo it and pay as I go.

      Best regards!

    • Debbie M says

      I suspect that many dentists insist on annual x-rays because they know that insurance will pay. My boyfriend says no to the x-rays–his dentist can only have new x-rays once every five years, and if they mess them up, they don’t get a re-do! I’m not a dentist, though–maybe x-rays really do let you see things before they get too big that you can’t see any other way. Also, my boyfriend grew up in a place with loads of fluoride in the water and he rarely eats sugar, so his teeth are practically bionic.

  4. Travis says

    That’s a great price for the coverage!

    I have SelectHealth health insurance here in Utah and it’s not worth getting their dental insurance unless I get at least a couple cavities per year. They charge $35/mo ($420/yr), which includes two cleanings per year and has a $50 deductible and 20% copay for fillings. Instead, I directly pay my dentist $110 for the cleaning with x-rays once per year and $80 for the cleaning without x-rays, for a total of $190/yr. So long as I continue to not have cavities (31 and still no cavities yet — knock on wood!), the insurance isn’t worth it.

    However, you now have me wondering about other insurance options available. Perhaps that Humana plan (or similar) is available in my area? If so, $156/yr would be great to cover my two cleanings. That would save $34 right off the bat, plus I’d have some helpful coverage when I finally get that dreaded first cavity…

    • says

      Travis,

      Glad to hear you’ve had great teeth so far! I was in that camp too until my recent troubles. Sucks! :(

      That’s pretty expensive dental insurance there. If I were you I would only get the insurance if and when I had a problem. Until then I would just pay as I go.

      You can check ehealthinsurance.com for coverage in your area. You just need to give them information on yourself and they search for applicable coverage. You can then select a plan and get all the information you need to see whether or not it’s a good deal.

      Take care!

  5. Anonymous says

    You could always get your teeth fixed in Thailand or somewhere like that – They’ll do a good job at a fraction of the cost, and you can incorporate a holiday into it!

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Access to cheaper healthcare is one of the most attractive qualities of living in a country like Thailand. The healthcare is still fairly high quality, but a fraction of the cost of what we have here.

      However, that really only applies to people who already live there. The cost of a round-trip flight would surely eat into any savings unless the treatment(s) were extremely expensive and possibly lengthy. This probably wouldn’t apply to dental care, but rather some type of bigger health concern.

      But, yeah living in SE Asia is very attractive due to cheaper health costs, among other great qualities.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Take care.

  6. TiglatPileser says

    I remember that almost all people belonging to the generation of my grandparents had their denture when they were in their seventh or eight decade of their lives. My father’s generation mainly enjoys the “luxury” of being able to use their natural teeth until their old age – an immense improvement in terms of quality of life. I guess it’s all due to the improvements in dental hygiene and due to a much higher frequency of preventive medical checkups. Frankly speaking I would not visit my dentist that often if he did’nt write me a friendly reminder letter every half-year. Something to thank our social security system for. Mentioning that I cannot help that the description of the health system that one can read between the lines of your as always very readable post is way out what I can understand. Being young the only real assets you have are your education and the ability to work for money. Very concentrated portfolio indeed. High risk! Endangering this asset leaving it without any protection is pure gambling. Or, quoting Mohnish Pabrai who advised to invest with the guideline: If I win I win a lot, if I lose I don’t lose much, leaving your ability to work unprotected is like: If I win I win I don’t know how much but if I lose I lose it all. Not my cup of tea, neither as investor (I have paid a lot of money for gaining this experience ;-)) nor as a citizen.
    Take care!

    • Debbie M says

      I hear that great improvements have been made in dentures but that they still suck compared to keeping your own teeth.

    • Anonymous says

      Totally agree with TiglatPileser. Think of your health as the oil in the machine that makes the money ( your job) that buys the stocks that produces the dividends. If something happens to that machine because you didn’t keep it oiled, everything comes to a crashing halt. As a Canadian we don’t think about this because our taxes pay for our medical coverage, so it’s definitely not free, but it is something not to be taken for granted.

    • says

      TiglatPileser,

      Great points there. I agree completely.

      Health is something that we tend to take for granted until we need it most. I was guilty of not protecting my downside up until recently, and that’s probably because of youth and the naive nature that comes with it. You think you’re invincible when you’re young – until you realize you’re not. Luckily, I never got my bluff called. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Best wishes.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      Absolutely. I concur 100%.

      Like I said above, health is something that we tend to take for granted. Although I will say that I never ignored my health, but rather ignored health insurance. I’ve always been a rather healthy individual. I tend to control my portions and I’ve been an active fitness enthusiast since I was 11 years old. Certainly my diet could be improved in terms of sugar intake, and eating like a college student (noodles and sandwiches) for about a year there didn’t help either. I’m eating a lot healthier these days and take multivitamins daily for any deficiencies in my diet.

      I agree that health is the oil that keeps the machine running. Without it, the machine breaks down and that’s it. Without health, we’re nothing. I actually have high hopes that my health will actually be greatly improved over the long run by not stressing out about work for a good portion of my life. I’m wondering if more unstructured free time to pursue passion projects and things that have great interest to me won’t benefit my psyche once I’m financially independent. Stress is a silent killer, and I hope to reduce it significantly going forward. I guess we’ll see how it turns out.

      Thanks for the great comment!

      Best regards.

  7. Debbie M says

    Your dental plan sounds awesome to me because of the no annual maximums part. Two (regular) cleanings per year is standard (deeper cleanings will cost more). It sounds like you save significantly on other procedures. Also, the kinds I had available at work cost about $30 and $50 per month, so it sounds like you have a good deal.

    I got my own high deductible health insurance when I quit my job and I kept it when I got part-time gigs with the same employer. Since normally they pay for health insurance (or half of it if I’m working half-time), I was allowed to use some of that money for dental insurance instead, so I got the fancier of the two.

    That worked out great for me because I finally switched dentists and got my wisdom teeth out. It’s working slightly less great for me now because only the more expensive plan is available through COBRA, so that’s what I still have. (The part-time gigs have run out and I’m back to regular job hunting.) But I still have one more expensive thing to do, so it will probably work out for me.

    **

    When my boyfriend was a kid, he also had a dentist visit where suddenly he had several cavities, and it’s because that was the summer he discovered iced tea. He drank loads of it, sweetened. His dentist told him that if he started drinking it unsweetened, he’d be a lot better off, and he’d get used to taste fairly quickly, so that’s what he did. Any sudden influx of sugar into your diet?

    • says

      Debbie M,

      Thanks! I think the monthly outlay is quite attractive considering the free services included and the downside protection.

      I haven’t had a sudden influx of sugar into my diet. Rather, I ingest a lot of sugar all the time, and have done so since I was very young. These days I eat a fairly healthy diet, I work out regularly, I don’t smoke, I very rarely drink alcohol and I’m a happy guy (low stress for the most part). However, I do have a bad habit of drinking soda/pop. I guess I’m supporting my investments in Pepsi and Coca-Cola (kidding), but I’ve tried to drink more water and flavored no-calorie drinks and it just doesn’t work for me. My teeth may suffer for this, but one serious cavity after 31 years isn’t too bad I guess. I’d be more concerned about diabetes than I would be about dental issues, but I also monitor my blood sugar.

      Best wishes!

  8. says

    I shivered after looking up the procedure for a root canal. Then checked unto my companies dental plans (discounted i believe) for it will be less expensive in my situation to go with a dental plan too for preventing teeth pain. When i was little i was dependent on parent’s Military coverage on health and dental insurance. Wow were they the best (from my future taxes and the taxpayers dollars of course). How i miss the high quality, yet frugality of the US. Air Force and the amazing way they take care of dependents.

    • says

      FYC,

      A root canal is no fun at all. I’ll avoid that sucker for as long as I possibly can! :)

      The military is wonderful in a lot of ways. Certainly if you’re looking to retire very early in life and can start out at 18 and take the pension at 38, you’ll be sitting very pretty. It’s definitely not for me, but that could be a fantastic way to become at least semi-retired at a very young age. I hear the medical care isn’t fantastic once you’re out of the military, but it’s still better than nothing.

      Best regards.

  9. Anonymous says

    mmmm…..I have that plan with Humana for a year and when I needed to use it it was WORTHLESS! I called several dentists and they told me that they dont cover almost anything!!! I know…it looks good on paper. My advise to you is to use it ASAP to know the TRUE value…I spent $400 (family plan for a year) before I notice that was worth nothing. Good luck :0)

    • says

      Anonymous,

      That sounds very strange. It’s not like Humana is some shady insurance company. Perhaps your dentist was not in-network or was not assigned to your plan? I know that you have to find a dentist that accepts the plan, and then call Humana to get them on the plan’s policy. From there, you pay your co-pay and go from there. The papers that come with the plan clearly spell out what’s covered and how much. I’d do a little more research on that and not necessarily believe whatever the dentist is telling you. Maybe go to a different dentist?

      Best of luck!

      Take care.

  10. says

    This is great and comes with perfect timing! Ive been trying to figure out a way to see a dentist without paying too much considering my current employer doesn’t offer dental insurance. Thanks for sharing this! I will look in to it further. Please offer a review once you use it and see if you’re still satisfied.

    • says

      Teach Me To Invest,

      Great idea! I’ll have to post up a review after I actually use the dental insurance for a filling or something else. I’ll see how it goes.

      I’m glad the info was of some help. There isn’t a ton of information out there that’s personal and actually shows healthcare information, prices, and everything else. Sometimes it seems that we, as a society, are too proud. There’s a lack of transparency. I try to go the opposite way here.

      Best wishes!

  11. says

    You bet there will be other cost associated with your dental care. I pay 100 a month for family plan (four people) and all my “Waterloo” work in my mouth cost me terrible out of pocket money. The insurance paid only a portion of it.

    • says

      Martin,

      There is definitely some cost involved above and beyond the monthly premium. Those costs are factored into the co-pays. For instance, I included what a root canal would cost. Still pretty steep at $680, but less than half of what it would cost me without the insurance.

      Best regards!

  12. says

    I have always been fortunate that my employer provides me with full dental care. Only in the last few years have I been consistent about going every 6 months. I think as we get older it becomes even more important to carry this insurance. Glad to hear the pain has passed. Hopefully you won’t need a root canal.

    • says

      Zach,

      I’m with you. Becoming older definitely gives one a perspective that is lost in youth.

      I’m also glad the pain has gone away! I’m probably not in the clear yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it. I’d rather have that $680 to invest in a high quality company! :)

      Best wishes.

  13. Anonymous says

    I love this blog but can we get back to dividend stocks. I mean I’m really glad there have been improvements in dentrures but If you start posting about using a 20$ off coupon at Bed Beth and Beyond to buy some new bath mats I’m out of here!
    -Jersey Jerry

    • says

      Jersey Jerry,

      I am sorry this post wasn’t to your liking.

      I’ve never posted strictly about stocks. You can see that by looking at my archive. This is a rather personal blog, and I always try to include articles that show impacts on my monthly spending. This blog is about retiring early, living frugally, investing in dividend growth stocks, staying fit, budgeting and the like. I also have a passion for philosophy and life itself. I try not to pigeonhole myself into any one subject, because I, as a person, have broader interests and I hope that’s reflected here. While I have a deep passion for investing in equities, without budgeting and living below my means I’ll have no capital to invest. I try to show the whole picture here. This is me. This is life.

      I’ll be posting about my love of stocks again very soon! :)

      Best regards!

  14. Anonymous says

    fair enough. Thanks for the reply. Understood. Keep up the good work and research!!

    -Jersey Jerry

  15. says

    I really appreciated your insights on this timely article DM. Fortunately it’s not an issue for me as I have great dental insurance. However my girlfriend does not and we were just trying to scheme how to get her dental work including root canal and crown taken care of without breaking the bank.

    I have looked into having the work done at a nearby University for a fraction of the cost as well. The downfall for this is that it requires much more time in the chair since a group of professors must circulate and inspect the work frequently. I’ve also checked with a couple dentists who offer cash discounts for not having to deal with the insurance process but your insurance plan looks like the most appealing option I have seen yet. Thanks for sharing!

    • says

      Net Worth Snowball,

      Glad the article proved to be insightful for you. I personally couldn’t believe how cheap this plan was and what it offered.

      I’m on the same page as you. As soon as I found out I needed a root canal my ass was on the computer trying to find some help. No way am I going to shell out that much cash on a tooth like a suckka! No way.

      The lack of waiting period and cheap monthly nut looks good to me! :)

      Good luck to your girlfriend. My root canal pain has completely subsided, but I can only imagine her frustration. Not fun.

      Take care!

  16. Anonymous says

    Don’t ignore the root canal need. I had exactly what you did and the pain stopped because the nerve died. It can cause an infection after the root dies due to a filling that was too close to the nerve (so it was sensitive and painful). If it was only a little painful though that might have just been sensitivity. I needed to take a fair bit of advil during that time.

    • says

      Anonymous,

      I’m not sure. I only had pain for a couple days. It was rather uncomfortable, but not the “this hurts so bad I want to kill myself” pain that others seem to talk about in regards to root canal pain. And after that, it went away. Now I have no pain at all. I guess I need to figure out how exactly a dentist determines with 100% accuracy that the nerve is dying/dead and a root canal is absolutely necessary. It seems that there is an uncomfortable margin for error with this based on what I’ve read online.

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad that you had your root canal taken care of and everything is better now. :)

      Best wishes.

  17. C M says

    I was just looking at purchasing this plan and found your great review through google. Did you ever end up completing the work on your teeth the dentist first recommended? Are you still on the plan and was it an annual contract?

    • says

      CM,

      I did end up getting the root canal, although it ended up costing more than I thought. There were lab costs that weren’t covered, so I believe it was around $1,200 altogether. It still saved me some money, but not quite as much as I thought it would.

      I’m not on the plan anymore because I stayed up in Michigan for the summer and the plan wasn’t transferable. It wasn’t an annual contract – just a month-to-month plan.

      I hope that helps!

      Cheers.

      • C M says

        DM,

        Thanks for your response.

        From what you’ve said it sounds like the investment is worth it compared to not going in with any dental insurance.

        I’ll look out for those lab costs!

        C M

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