When someone needs dental care and starts shopping for insurance

My next post was supposed to be about possible solutions to our healthcare problems, but first…

This is an email Lynne just received from a potential client: “i AM INTERESTERED IN FINDING A DENTAL INSURANCE PLAN FOR MY SON, WHO LIVES IN dENVER. HE CAN’T AFFORD TO PAY, WE WOULD BE PAYING FOR HIM HE IS A 29 YR OLD MALE, WITH IMMEDIATE MAJOR DENTAL NEEDS.”

It’s an excellent example of adverse selection, where people wait until they have a problem before they try to get insurance.

If your first reaction is, “The poor kid! He can’t afford to get health care,” I love your heart. Keep reading.

Dental insurance, per Lynne, is $30 per month. That’s $360 per year. That yearly cost would have protected him from this very situation. In fact, that’s precisely what insurance is designed to do: protect you from the unknown. Specifically, high-cost unknowns. Like major dental.

Now, this 29-year-old man and his mother want complete strangers–namely, insured people–to pay for a known condition.

If you want the cost of dental insurance to go the way of health insurance, then by all means require insurance companies to accept this 29-year-old man who chose not to pay $30 per month for insurance.

Now, what can we do for the man in this situation? Honestly, tell him to get a loan. There could be a GoFundMe involved. Because if we tell him how awful it is that he can’t get insurance, he’ll internalize that it’s not his responsibility. He’ll start believing that it’s unfair to have a necessary bill that is difficult to repay.

Since that’s exactly how we got into this whole healthcare insurance fiasco in the first place, step by well intentioned step, we KNOW what will happen. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to have to pay thousands of dollars in dental insurance on top of $10,000-20,0000 in health insurance.

So no pity. No commiseration beyond, “What a sucky situation. Why weren’t you paying your $360 a year? Do you have a good relationship with your banker?” And maybe, “I’ll pitch in $25,” once he’s set his own affairs in order.

Let’s not make the dental care/dental insurance dilemma into another Catch-22.

2 Replies to “When someone needs dental care and starts shopping for insurance”

  1. Dawn, what makes dental insurance sensible, is the man will not be denied coverage. In fact, he will be accepted with a 1 year waiting period for major dentistry coverage. A lot of problems could be solved by doing the same thing with health insurance, but legislators receive a lot of push back when it comes to instituting waiting periods in the health insurance arena…. In fact, the ACA eliminated waiting periods in the health insurance market, including the group markets. This was probably one of the worst things the ACA did.

    1. Very true, Lynne. And you said it better than I would have. My goal in this article is to highlight the attitude that caused the push back against the legislators and against the one-year waiting period in health care. We as individuals can’t do a whole lot, but we can encourage responsibility and we can encourage our politicians to do the smart thing. Like keep the waiting period in dental and add it in medical.

      But first, we must change attitudes.

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