It today’s focus on dentistry, let’s talk about how dental insurance has changed over the last 45 years.
Hi, I’m Dr. Paul Henny, and let’s spend a few minutes talking about dental insurance. This is an issue that gets people upset and emotional all the time. In fact, a lot of people tell me that they would take better care of their teeth if they had dental insurance and that they don’t have dental insurance is one of the main reasons that they’re not taking care of their mouth. Let’s step back and talk more in a broad sense about what dental insurance really is.
Dental insurance was brought into the market place into the late 60s and around 1970. And at that time the amount of money a dental insurance company would pay to an individual to have their mouth fixed ranged in the $1,500 area. At the same time, you could by a Boss Mustang for about $3,200. So fifteen hundred dollars was a lot of money in 1970. Well, things have changed. A comparable Mustang today would cost somewhere around thirty two thousand dollars. But interestingly enough, dental insurance, the amount that a dental insurance company will pay to an individual a year is fifteen hundred dollars to two thousand dollars—in other words, for approximately 45 years, the amount a dental insurance company will pay to an individual has hardly changed at all.
It’s been affected by inflation. The cost of that Boss Mustang value is one tenth of what it would be today. And so your dental insurance policy is only worth one tenth of what it would have been worth in 1970. So the central reason why dental insurance policies are frustrating for everybody: they’re worth much less than people are led to believe they’re worth, because for over 45 years the cost of dental care or—medicine for that matter—have increased significantly. Most inflation in medicine and dentistry run in the five to ten percent range per year. We can see that in our medical insurance premiums as they go up ten percent or more each year.
So costs have been contained by insurance companies by raising premiums and by keeping reimbursements low. And that’s why they’re frustrating for everybody. They’re frustrating for us as dentists, and they’re frustrating for you as the patient. The main takeaway I would like to leave you with today is don’t let your dental insurance coverage drive your decision-making. Because your dental insurance coverage tends to be pretty minimal, don’t let that determine your dental health fate. Planning, strategically staging treatment to fit your budget, is really the key—not what your insurance plan covers. It’s stepping back and seeing how that might be able to assist you somewhat, but looking at it more intelligently and in a global fashion.
That’s the kind of thing that we do with our clients and our patients here, every day. We sit down with them, we look at the big picture, we look at what financial resources they have, weather they have dental insurance or not, and we look at what we need to get done. And we try to set it up in a way that fits in their budget, and their schedule and their life.
Thanks, I’m Dr. Paul Henny and I’ll see you soon.