2-Minute Money Manager: Should I Buy Dental Insurance?

Insurance can be important, but some types of coverage are poor buys. Here's why dental insurance may not be worth the money.

2-Minute Money Manager: Should I Buy Dental Insurance? Photo by bezikus / Shutterstock.com

Welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager,” a short video feature answering money questions submitted by readers and viewers.

Today’s question is about dental insurance; specifically, whether it’s worth the money.

Sink your teeth into the following video and you’ll learn why, for many people, this type of specialty insurance isn’t worth spit. Or, if you prefer, scroll down to read the full transcript and find out what I said. You also can learn how to send in a question of your own below.

For more information on this topic, check out “How to Have Healthy Teeth and Avoid Crazy Dental Fees” and “14 Insurance Products That Are a Waste of Money.” You can also go to the search at the top of this page, put in the words “dental,” “dentist” or “insurance” and find plenty of information on just about everything relating to this topic.

Also, remember that if you need anything from a better credit card to help with debt, you’ll find it in our Solutions Center.

Got a question of your own to ask? Scroll down past the transcript.

Don’t want to watch? Here’s what I said in the video

Hello, everyone, and welcome to your “2-Minute Money Manager.” I’m your host, Stacy Johnson, and this question is brought to you by MoneyTalksNews.com, serving up the best in personal finance news and advice since 1991.

Let’s take a look at our question today. It comes to us from Charlie:

“I remember an article where you discussed dental insurance plans, and you considered them a waste of money. Why?”

OK, Charlie, let’s talk dental insurance.

Let’s start with cost. Understand that I’m not talking about employer-furnished dental insurance. If your employer pays for your insurance, great. Take it and run. But if your company doesn’t offer coverage, the average cost of dental insurance you buy on your own is between $350 and $500 a year.

Typical dental insurance is called 100/80/50, meaning it covers 100 percent of stuff like teeth cleaning, 80 percent of basic procedures like filling cavities, and 50 percent of more complex procedures, like bridges. Also, it may have a limit on how much it covers: $1,000 a year is typical. So, it’s often very limited in coverage, and it may not cover everything.

Imagine paying $350 for car insurance that had a $1,000 maximum payout. Sound like a great buy?

Something else you may not know: Dental insurance typically has an exclusionary period. In other words, maybe you think, “I’m going to need a bridge. I’ll get dental insurance for $350, then get my bridge free.” Nope. This insurance often excludes even simple things like fillings for six months, and some procedures for 18 months.

Granted, you do get free cleanings, but most people don’t spend $350 a year simply getting their teeth cleaned. If you think you’re going to need a lot of dental work, it may be worth looking at. But before you decide it’s worth it, read the fine print. See what the annual limit on the policy is. See what it covers and what it doesn’t. See when you’re able to start using it. Then, see how much it costs. Do a little reading: We have plenty on Money Talks News. Just do a search for “dental insurance.”

Hope that answers your question, Charlie. Now, let’s close with our quote of the day. This one comes from author Todd Garlington.

“Once people said, ‘Give me liberty, or give me death.’ Now, they say, ‘Make me a slave. Just pay me enough.'”

Have a super-profitable day, and meet me right here next time!

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The questions I’m likeliest to answer are those that will interest other readers. In other words, don’t ask for super-specific advice that applies only to you. And if I don’t get to your question, promise not to hate me. I do my best, but I get a lot more questions than I have time to answer.

About me

I founded Money Talks News in 1991. I’m a CPA, and have also earned licenses in stocks, commodities, options principal, mutual funds, life insurance, securities supervisor and real estate.

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Stacy Johnson
Stacy Johnson @moneytalksnews
I'm the founder of Money Talks News and have spent the last 40+ years in the personal finance trenches. I'm a CPA, author of a few books and multiple Emmy recipient. I'm ... More

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