Should I Get Dental Insurance?

I probably should. But… ugh.

“Dental plan!” “Lisa needs braces!”

So the one thing holding me back for signing up for my new Bronze health plan is that the state of Washington is also now offering me the opportunity to sign up for a Bronze, Silver, or Gold dental plan.

This is new, or at least it’s new to me; previously I had been insured through Premera, but this year Premera told me that to get new Premera insurance I’d have to apply through Washington Health Plan Finder. I’ll tell you the story of that whole business later; it involved a lot of phone calls and glitchy websites, but I finally got my login set up, selected my Premera Bronze plan (with premiums that cost 19 percent more this year), and was given the option to add dental through SmartSmile.

The Bronze dental plan has a premium of $18.75 per month. There is no deductible, but there are no out-of-pocket maximums, either; it essentially gets you discounts on common dental procedures like cleanings and crowns, and anything not covered by the plan is my responsibility to pay in full.

Which, sure, I should get my teeth cleaned. It’s been a while. So I did the math: this dental plan will cost me $225 in premiums over the course of a year, plus another $71 for the checkup (including teeth cleaning, which comes with a separate subcharge, and X-rays).

I might be able to get a teeth cleaning for less than $296 without insurance. But I know that what I’m really paying for is the day when I break a tooth, or maybe have the first cavity I’ve ever had in my life, or something. None of that stuff has ever happened to me before—I did chip a tooth when I was a kid, but that’s it—but it could.

So. Should I get this dental insurance? Or should I continue not having dental insurance, just like I haven’t had dental insurance for the past four years?

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