The Flaws of Dental Insurance, But Why Do People Need It?
“At year-end 2016,” about 34 percent of America’s population do not have “dental benefits” (“Who has dental benefits?”). However, dental insurance contains flaws since it “primarily focuses on covering low-cost preventative treatments” and “[most] dental insurance policies cap coverage at $1000-$1,500 a year” (“How to Choose The Best Dental Insurance”). Based on these numbers, in Lisa Zamosky’s article, “Cost of dental care can add up fast — and insurance may not cover it,” she claims, “But when you need major dental work, costs can be high and insurance may not cover much of it” (2015). At the time of her article’s publication, the insurance of Holly Kabrin, “a self-employed mother of three,” “probably won’t come close to covering all of her family’s costs this year,” such as her daughter’s wisdom teeth extraction. Zamosky also states that Paula Assad had to pay much money for her crowns even after her insurance deducted some of their costs (2015). Additionally, some people could afford “two checkups and cleanings and a set of X-rays” without coverage since their average price is between $375-$400, instead of getting an individual or family plan, whose average prices per year are $350 and $550, respectively (“How to Choose The Best Dental Insurance”). Even so, people buy dental insurance for coverage on pricier beneficial treatments.
For those who cannot afford to buy insurance, acquire certain treatments, or visit the dentist, complications may arise and they must turn to unfavorable alternatives. According to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), “Individuals without dental benefits are more likely to have extractions and dentures and less likely to have restorative care or receive treatment for gum disease” (“Who has dental benefits?”). Unfortunately, “[nearly] 1 in 5 Americans older than 65 do not have a single real tooth left” since they must get extractions instead of treatments, such as root canals and crowns, for which they could not pay (Jordan et al. 2017). Additionally, in 2016, “more than 2 million U.S. emergency room visits were attributed to neglected teeth,” but, according to George Acs, “director of the dental department at Chesapeake Health Care,” “the ER is generally not equipped to fix dental problems… So ER doctors just medicate people with ‘a perpetual cycle of antibiotics and opioids’” (Jordan et al. 2017). However, “That cycle is feeding a nationwide epidemic of opioid addiction” (Jordan et al. 2017). Although dental insurance is flawed, “Americans with dental benefits are more likely to go to the dentist, take their children to the dentist, receive restorative care and experience greater overall health, according to the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) report, The Haves and the Have-Nots: Consumers with and without Dental Benefits” (“Who has dental benefits?”).
So, the NADP’s website asserts, “The choice for us as individuals and for our health care system is to pay for dental care now or pay more for medical treatment of dental complications later” (“Who has dental benefits?”). With dental insurance, people can access preventative treatment and more helpful medical care.