Dental insurance – a joke

I have a bit of a history when  it comes to dentists.  I don’t know if I get cavities because I grew up on non-fluoridated well water or I’m genetically disposed to having weak teeth – but I do know that I have a mouthful of fillings and a few crowns despite my borderline-OCD attempts to defend my teeth against decay.  I have been employed with insurance since I graduated from college and all of my insurance companies claimed to have dental insurance.  But because of poor dental coverage, my out-of-pocket payments for dental care over the past 7 years have costs about as much as one year of in-state tuition at the UW.

Dental insurance is a joke.  Why am I paying for coverage that doesn’t cover a thing?  It’s not like I can just wait out a cavity – like a cold – until it goes away.  I don’t have a choice when it comes to pursuing toothcare.  I once tried to wait out much needed root canal until my insurance company increased it’s dental coverage – and suffered fairly severe consequences because of it.  Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to downplay the importance of having adequate healthcare insurance for illness – obviously ill people need access to healthcare providers and antibiotics.  But dental coverage care is just as important.  Poor dental health affects your overall health as well.  For example, tooth infections can go septic or severe tooth pain can keep someone from eating a proper diet, leading to greater health problems.   

Whenever I receive a bill from the dentist I ask myself this question:   why don’t insurance companies provide adequate dental coverage?  I consider toothcare to be an essential element to healthcare and remain frustrated that I continue to pay for inadequate coverage regardless of the provider.  I hope by the time I have children that dental coverage has been incorporated into the base of every health plan – I’m not sure I’ll be able to afford both their dental and college bills otherwise.

Emily, LSSA President


About Emily Plagman

La Follette School of Public Affairs graduate student
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One Response to Dental insurance – a joke

  1. Emma Hynes says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Emily. With all of this national debate about health insurance (which I have been following with similar OCD-like tendencies), there is almost zero discussion of Americans’ access to dental health. People actually die from dental health problems. It happens here – in Wisconsin. As I pursue equity in the health policy arena in my future, I will keep your thoughts on dental health insurance in mind. Nobody should have to choose between their education and their health.

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