Personal Finance 

Should You Buy Dental and Vision Insurance?

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dentistRight now, I’m going through the process of deciding whether or not I want to buy dental insurance. I decided long ago that vision insurance really isn’t worth it for my family, but with my son getting older — and likely to need braces in the next two or three years — I’m wondering if dental insurance might be worth the cost.

Until this point, we have paid out of pocket for most of our dental and vision costs. My son and I have very good teeth, and regular cleanings and check-ups are all we need. While my husband has been less fortunate in his teeth, we have still been able to afford his dental care with the help of a Health Savings Account. But what happens if my son needs thousands of dollars of orthodontic care?

Vision Insurance

Unless you end up with really good coverage through your employer, it probably isn’t worth it to get vision insurance. In many cases, many vision “insurance” plans are actually discount programs. That can be an issue later on, since it means that you are paying for access to discounts, so you pay a monthly fee, and then you still might need to pay more out of pocket than you expected.

We’ve found that vision insurance for individuals isn’t really worth it. We pay for our eye exams and our glasses and contacts out of pocket, with help from the HSA. Other items, like serious eye health issues, are usually covered under your health insurance. When you have an eye infection, it’s your health insurance that covers the cost, not your vision insurance. Consider the coverage, and the cost, and determine whether or not vision insurance makes sense for you.

Dental Insurance

Often, employers offer dental insurance separate from regular health plans. You can get access through HMOs, PPO, and indemnity plans. The HMO option is likely to be the most restrictive, in terms of which dentists you can see. Basic care is usually covered completely, but you might have to start paying more out of pocket for complicated procedures.

You can use a PPO to see a wider variety of dentists, but you will have to pay a higher co-pay if you choose a dentist that isn’t “in network.” Usually, you pay a co-pay for almost all services, with this plan operating much like a health insurance plan that you might be used for. Indemnity plans offer even more freedom, but they also cost more for insurance, and you might have higher co-pays. These are often provided only through employers.

One of the things to watch out for with dental insurance is the fact that most plans don’t cover orthodontics as a matter of course. You will need to purchase an orthodontics rider, paying for additional coverage, in most cases. You might also have a required amount of time that you need to be insured in order to have your dental and/or orthodontic work covered. You might need to pay premiums for six months to a year before being able to start using your insurance for expensive procedures.

Carefully consider your situation, and run the numbers. It’s increasingly looking like dental insurance, with the additional orthodontics coverage, might be a good option for my family as my son gets closer to needing braces, and in the event that my husband’s teeth deteriorate further.

(Photo: Irina Patrascu)

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Should You Buy Dental and Vision Insurance?”

  1. gina says:

    Orthodonture was only covered up to $1500-2000, and the total cost is much more.

  2. Texas Wahoo says:

    If you wear contacts or glasses, vision insurance seems like a good deal. They only pay for one visit a year and $105 worth of contacts for me, but that is worth the $2 a month they charge me.

  3. elloo says:

    YES…buy dental insurance. There have been generations of dentists in my family. Earlier generations made a decent living and charged modest fees because there was not widespread dental insurance. But now, I can’t believe what the latest generation is charging for even minor procedures. Even if your premium only pays for some of the ortho cost, it will be worth it. And generally speaking, even good teeth don’t get better over time.

  4. We have opted to not have dental or vision insurance since we are self employed and have private insurance which already costs us a LOT of money with a very high deductible, When we ran the numbers, it was more expensive to pay for the dental than our typical dental problems cost. Of course the occasional root canal happens, and it is always a shock to the pocketbook! There is always the possibility of negotiating the price of procedures with the dentist. Paying cash can sometimes get a discounted price.

  5. bloodbath says:

    With free dental checkups and cleaning and eye care at 60% off I won’t need insurance but it is a good idea to have it as you become a senior citizen when everything starts falling apart

  6. fabclimber says:

    Definitely worth it. I get mine through work. A savvy dentist will work with you so you can maximize benefits. Don’t be afraid to ask for volume discounts! My dentist gave me a break when I needed 7 crowns due to no prior dental care. It saved me $$$$. also, I used my Payflex account to save more via tax dollars.
    Would never have been necessary if i had paid attention to my dental health, but it worked out for the best with my dentist’s understanding help. Besides, I paid for his round the world trip. Ha!

  7. Shirley says:

    Our HMO offers a rider policy for dental work but the dentist we prefer was not in the network. That was the deal-breaker for us.

  8. mike says:

    Vision coverage from employer if vsop which pays for one visit and one pair glasses is GREAT.

    Dental a must and not just cleanings. Any extra work will be out of pocket and big$$$. Pay now or pay later…..

  9. JoeTaxpayer says:

    The interesting thing with dental is the ability to sign up for planned work. You know the boy needs braces? You can sign up next year, get the coverage and whatever the maximum benefit is. If I recall, braces were $4000, and the coverage maximum was $2500. The rest on our Flexible Spending Account.

  10. Mike says:

    All insurances are important but most people don’t realize it until it is too late.

  11. Jenn says:

    Dental at $85/mo through work was ok. AT $120/mo as a retiree it is no longer ok. I will put that aside and use it to pay for our cleanings and check ups and the max $1500 our kid would get from insurance for braces, and when I have crowns/fillings done use any leftover money toward the half the insurance would have covered. Sure wish though my dentist would give me the same rate he gives my insurance company.

  12. ScottMBlume says:

    Yes it is. If we having a hard trouble about our teeth then we should not worry about this. Try to visit the link.

  13. Expect to pay thousands out of pocket for healthcare. Won’t that be enough expenses?

  14. Well, if you have a lot of money then you go for a both. It is important to our lives.

  15. Right now, I’m going through the process of deciding whether or not I want to buy dental insurance. I decided long ago that vision insurance really isn’t worth it for my family, but with my son getting older — and likely to need braces in the next two or three years — I’m wondering if dental insurance might be worth the cost.

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