The High Cost of AARP Delta Dental

Well, I expected the AARP Delta Dental plan I enrolled in last December to cover little more than the occasional cleaning, which, when paid for out of pocket, is $93 at my dentist’s office. But what I didn’t expect was to have the plan effectively land me in a hole that would take two years to climb out of.

Here’s how this comes to be:

You pay $450 a year for dental coverage. Each year, this is supposed to give you three “free” cleanings—each of which costs you a $20 copay. After a full year’s waiting period, you’re eligible for a discount of about 50% on crowns and other expensive procedures. However, in addition to the waiting period and the copays, there’s a $100 deductible that has to be met before even a routine cleaning is covered.

I need a new crown to replace an ancient one that’s been broken for years. Delta will not cover a crown until you’ve been in  the plan for a full year.

So, to arrive at the point where you can replace a broken crown, you have to spend $450 for the first year’s premiums, then re-up for another year, to the tune of another $450, and pay $200 in deductibles. Then, the most that will be covered for the crown will be half the price. Think about that.

My dentist charges $1,150 for a new gold crown. His charge for a routine cleaning, which one would normally do twice (not three times) a year, is $93. Over the course of two years, then, a patient with decent dental health but who needs an old crown replaced would pay $1,522 for cleaning and a new crown. What would this cost if you purchased AARP’s Delta Dental coverage, compared to what it would cost if you were uninsured?

Interesting. You pay $233 more for the same services and products, and for the privilege of having to wait a full year to get your crown fixed. The cost to get the crown plus routine medical care, if you just decided to pay for it, actually would be $186 less (i.e., $1,336), because you wouldn’t have to wait a year to be eligible for the Delta’s 50% discount.

Clearly, you’d be ahead to simply put aside $450 a year in a fund dedicated to paying dental bills. Assuming, that is, that you have decent dental health—no gingivitis, cavities, or teeth about to fall out of your head. If even a single year passed without a major dental event, the amount that would accrue in savings ($714) over the two years you have to subscribe to be eligible for coverage on a crown would cover two-thirds of the crown’s cost—not the measly 50 percent (if you’re lucky) that Delta covers. At the start of year 2 (assuming you fund your savings with a lump sum), you would have $714. If the second year passed with no dental crises, then at the start of year 3 your dental savings fund would have a beginning balance of $978.

Hmmm….  Makes the $50 tab for that Braun electric toothbrush that really keeps your teeth clean look like quite a bargain, doesn’t it? It pays to take care of your teeth!

I just canceled the Delta Dental plan. Since I signed up for it in December, even though I’ve never used it, they’re gouging me for premiums through March.

If you’re retired, think twice about Delta Dental! And remember, just because a product has the AARP brand associated with it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best choice for you.

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Holly February 4, 2011 at 6:21 am

Funny-

Does the $40 co-pay for two cleanings count toward the required $100 yearly deductible? Even if it does, it seems you are still better off in this case w/o the insurance. Perhaps the plan would be better suited for someone who has more costly dental problems?

funny February 4, 2011 at 7:09 am

@ Holly: That is a good question. To get the answer, I’d have to plow through the 60-page (!) booklet they sent; it’s already 7:00 a.m., and in 25 minutes I have to start to fly around the city. If I get time, I’ll try to look it up.

Yes, IMHO a person who has a lot of dental issues, as many folks do, would be more likely to benefit from this plan. However, you’d have to go through a lot of suffering to get to the point where you would benefit: major work goes uncovered until you’ve been on the plan for a full year.

Is it any wonder Americans are crossing the border to get dental care from Mexican dentists, many of whom are dangerously unqualified?

{sigh} My previous dentist, the one who started charging people to park their cars, remarked that he loved Mexican dentists, because he was making a ton of money cleaning up the messes they made in people’s mouths.

Mark February 4, 2011 at 7:49 am

Not to be insulting, but it’s not very frugal to figure out AFTER you bought the insurance that you should not have. Why not do this calculation first?

funny February 4, 2011 at 3:41 pm

@ Mark: It’s hard to insult an English major’s math. I tried, and I miscalculated.

a) I didn’t understand that the $100 deductible applied to routine cleanings; I thought it was counted only against major work like crowns and restorations.

b) My old dentist charged significantly more for routine cleanings, so that if I went by his figures the first year’s routine care would have been a wash, absent the $100 deductible, which I didn’t realize applied to the routine cleaning that was supposed to be part of the deal.

c) I thought I could go another year or two before replacing the broken porcelain crown, not knowing that the irritation caused by my tongue rubbing against it all the time has created a precancerous lesion.

Had I been in possession of all the facts and had I been less math-challenged, I might indeed have figured this out sooner! :roll:

frugalscholar February 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

We’ve had many expensive dental issues over the last few years. We looked into dental plans and concluded that they were not really worth it.

I’ve read many good things about Mexican and Costa Rican dentists. I think you have to do some research, of course, but when we are retired, we will definitely look into medical tourism (as it’s called).

Practical Parsimony February 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm

I really appreciate the little charts. But, are you saying in your last comment that you were wrong about Delta Dental being a bad deal? Can you repost a chart? Is it still your opinion that Delta Dental is not a good deal for you? Thanks. Oh, this English major is pretty good with math, but I know what you mean. Some days when I am tired, I get dizzy thinking about math.

funny February 4, 2011 at 7:15 pm

@ Practical Parsimony: hmmmm…. I don’t think my figures above are wrong. It’s true that for someone whose teeth & gums are in good condition, Delta Dental coverage is probably not a useful choice: it will represent either a wash for such a person or maybe a small loss. That person would be better off simply putting the amount of the premiums (about $38/month) into savings dedicated for dentist visits, assuming she or he also keeps a decent emergency fund for unforeseen dental miseries.

I agree with Mark that my initial decision to buy the Delta policy was indeed unfrugal, and that I made an unfrugal decision because I didn’t understand that the $100 deductible would be applied to ALL dentist visits, so that the policy would in fact not cover two cleanings, because the deductible is higher than what the new dentist charges for a cleaning. Also, I thought I could outlast the year’s waiting period for the crown replacement, since the damage to the crown itself is just aesthetic.

Donna Freedman February 4, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Any chance your dentist will give you a 5% or 10% discount for paying cash vs. credit? I’ve heard some will. However, $93 is a low price for a cleaning these days, so perhaps he can’t afford to discount the crown.
Makes me glad that a close relative is a dental hygienist who will clean my teeth for free — my HMO doesn’t include dental.

funny February 4, 2011 at 9:44 pm

@ Donna Freedman: Absolutely I’m gonna ask…figure he can’t hit me in public. Actually, his office just sent me an estimate for a new bite guard, a new gold crown, a cleaning for $1563. Given that the previous Wonder-Dentist charged $1200 for a crown, $120 for a cleaning, and I don’t even REMEMBER what for the now-defunct bite-guard (seems like it was $300 or $400), that doesn’t seem at all out of line. If WonderDentist only charged $350 for the bite guard (the figure that sticks in my mind), his fee for the same work would’ve been $1,670.

It’s only a $110 difference, so there’s some hope that the new guy might give me a little break for paying cash and for being older than The Widow Methuselah. Can’t hurt to ask, anyway.

{heh heh} I’ve actually thought it might be worth going to dental hygienist classes at one of the community colleges. If you could clean your own teeth and diagnose your own problems, that could save a penny or two.

crazyliblady February 5, 2011 at 8:24 am

How about checking into whether there are any dental colleges in your area? You may be able to get them to work on your teeth at a significantly lower price than a regular dentist.

funny February 5, 2011 at 9:54 am

@ crazyliblady: As a matter of fact, one of the community colleges does have a dental hygiene program. A couple of times a year, they offer free cleaning to members of the public. That might be OK.

I wouldn’t be very comfortable having a student make a crown, though. One of these darn things turned into a huge hassle, and that was through the ministrations of an experienced and highly respected dentist.

Cheapskate Jake @ My Personal Finance Journey February 13, 2011 at 8:21 pm

Interesting stuff! So you were paying the $450 per year premiums mostly for the major dental coverage you were expecting that you would need to cover the crown?

I just ask because $450 is WAY more than it seems like normal cleanings would cost every 6 months.

funny February 14, 2011 at 6:51 am

@ Cheapskate Jake: No, I didn’t think I needed a crown this soon. In fact, I still don’t think I need a crown; I think the abrasion on the tongue is the result of a the chipped tooth in the upper jaw directly above the chipped crown, which the dentist apparently didn’t notice — the crown is unaesthetic but smooth, while the broken tooth is quite sharp. I figured I would have the crown fixed in the second year of coverage, at which time Delta would cover 50% of the cost.

What I did think Delta would cover is three cleanings (per its contract) plus at least part of the cost of a new nightguard, which, according to the mountain of paper they sent, apparently is supposed to be covered without an inordinately long wait. I did not understand that the $100 deductible applied to routine cleanings. The reason I did not understand it is that there has never been any such provision in any of the Delta Dental policies I’ve had through employers over the past several decades. Delta does impose limits on crown work, and I was led to believe that the deductible applied to crowns and other hugely expensive dental projects.

My old dentist charged $120 for a cleaning and about $350 for a nightguard; assuming Delta would cover half the cost of the nightguard (although that’s not what its paperwork says…it implies the entire cost will be covered), 3 x $120 + $350/2 = $535.

While this sounds like a huge rip-off of the insurance company, in fact the dentist deeply discounts his services to Delta. The statement I received from Delta shows that the oral exam he intends to charge me $65 for would have cost Delta all of $47, had Delta not had a large deductible for me to meet. Forty-seven dollars is 72% of the dentist’s actual charge; extrapolating from that, we might conclude that the most Delta could have been expected to pay of the costs listed above would have been $385, giving it a profit of $65 even if it had covered more than routine costs…which it most certainly would not do.

Of the $47 it was contracted to pay the new dentist for my last visit, Delta paid exactly $0.00.

This new dentist charges $98 for a cleaning. Delta has a $100/year deductible plus a $20 copay. $98 x 3 – $100 – ($20 x 3) = $134 as my cost for routine care. Add $450 for the insurance, and you get a total cost to me of $584 for care with no X-rays, no new mouth guard, no crown, and nothing out of the ordinary done to me. Meanwhile, if you subtract the amount I have to pay for routine care after the deductible and copays from the $450 Delta premium, you see that over that first year, Delta’s profit on me is $316, in exchange for which I get precious little.

As a practical matter, I’ve never had my teeth cleaned three times a year, because until the job at ASU became so excruciating it caused me (like everyone else who works there) to grind my teeth unconsciously I had not dental issues. Twice a year will do just fine. Thus if I get my teeth done every six months by this new guy, then routine care would cost me $196 year. Thrown in a nightguard and you get $546 — just $10 more than I’d be paying while hanging in Delta’s breeze. That’s before I start to negotiate with the guy for a discount, which I intend to do.

Clearly, Delta Dental isn’t worth the cost for even routine care. Now figure that you have to pay $450 twice (two years running) to be eligible for 50% coverage of a new crown, during which you pay not on but two annual $100 deductibles plus $20 for each dentist’s visit (you’ll see the dentist at least twice to get the new crown). You’ll pay $900 for the insurance, 1/2 the cost of the crown is about $575; the two deductibles come to $200, and the bare minimum number of trips to the dentist’s office will rack up another $40 in copays.

$900 + 575 + $200 + $40 = $1715, cost of replacing 1 crown while paying DD insurance

According to the dentist’s estimate, without the insurance plan the cost of the crown is $1150. The cost of walking into the dentist’s office twice is part of that bill. That’s a $600 difference. The $600 would not cover four routine cleanings, which, even if you could not negotiate a discount, would cost you only $400. So any way you look at it, Delta is charging you for air. If I stuck with the plan for two years, got the crown, and had my teeth cleaned four times, it would cost me $200 more than the cost of paying out of pocket. In the absence of serious dental problems, the dental services consumer would be better off putting $450 a year into savings to cover the costs of dental work.

Cheapskate Jake @ My Personal Finance Journey February 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Gotcha. Thanks for explaining that. I didn’t know that the nightguard was supposed to be included. That would definitely change the economics.

Barbara Lewi December 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

I canceled my dental insurance a while back and it was taken out of my account today and made me over drawn!
Please respond thank you, Barbara Lewi

funny December 27, 2011 at 2:54 pm

@ Barbara Lewi: First course of action is to call the company and remind them that the policy was canceled. If they don’t have a good reason (possibly you still owed them a month’s premium?), then call the bank and inform them that money was removed from your account fraudulently, and call your state attorney general and corporation commission to complain. There’s nothing like an inquiry from a regulatory agency or an attorney general to get an insurance company’s attention.

Denise February 4, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I’m over 65 and canceled my AARP dental coverage a few years ago when the cost went up to over $700 a year. Part of the back of a front tooth broke the other day so I decided to check dental plan prices today. Most companies offering dental insurance don’t offer it anyone over 65 1/2 yrs. old so if you want dental insurance AARP seems to be the only offering and if I signed with them I’d have to wait a year to get the tooth fixed. I think contacting your local dentist and discussing a lack of insurance and hoping the dentist will work with you on a payment plan is the way to go and if not, save what you can each month. Sad, but until we get a single payer health plan things aren’t going to change. Bitch to your local Congress Representative and Senator to get the insurance company corporations out of controlling our lives with their high costs designed only to profit their higher management people. It’s not about us…it’s about them making money.

funny February 5, 2012 at 7:10 am

@ Denise: Exactly.

What makes the AARP insurance not worth the price (dare we say “a rip”?) is that you have to pay two years’ worth of premiums to get a repair. A crown on that tooth will cost about $1200, if you shop around and explain to dentists that you don’t have coverage. If you’re paying $700/year for AARP’s dental insurance, you start out paying more than the cost of the crown. Then they won’t cover your first tooth cleaning, so you pay that out of pocket. And they gouge you with a co-pay every time you set foot in the dentist’s office. And they’ll only cover about half the cost of the crown.

All those other dings aside, think of that: you pay $1400 so they’ll cover $600 (maybe) of a $1200 procedure? It’s a blatant rip-off.

hannibalsmith March 26, 2013 at 1:18 pm

do you hav any idea what that will do to healthcare, no you don’t people from canada con to the US to get healthcare because they have to wait so long for it and that what will happen here if you get cancer there is a higher probablility that you will die, it helps to know what your talking about before you speak

Jon February 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

I have dental coverage through my company and I am retired on a fixed income. Are there any dentist who will accept only what the insurance company will pay.

funny February 14, 2012 at 5:53 am

@ Jon: The only way to find out is to call and ask them.

Karen February 16, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Got the AARP/Delta Dental,waited a year for full coverage. Went to a dentist in their group of providers at a dental college,top dentures (not inc. extractions) is 6000 +!!!
Maybe that is the going cost these days,I don’t know. Just seems incredibly high.
Cancelling that insurance.

funny February 17, 2012 at 6:16 am

@ Karen: That’s outrageous!

The thing is, too, by the time you’ve sat on your hands for a year waiting for the coverage to kick in, your dental issues have gotten exponentially more expensive.

IMHO, it’s worse than a rip-off. It’s cruel and exploitive.

Sarah February 28, 2012 at 1:57 pm

One factor you’ve left out of all these calculations, and it’s crucial!!! The total yearly benefit of Delta’s plan is $1,000 for Plan A and $1,500 for Plan B. So after all the hemming and hawing, you get indeed very, very little if anything from their insurance ‘coverage’.

Kathy Petruska February 29, 2012 at 9:38 pm

There are two variations of the AARP Delta Dental insurance. THere is a Plan A & Plan B. Under Plan A there are 3 exams and cleanings allowed each year and Delta pays 100%. Subscriber pays nothing. Under Plan B Delta pays 80% and the subscriber pays 20%. Perhaps you should have sprung for plan A.
Also I want to go to your dentist for a crown because in this area a crown is more like $1500.00 not $1150.00

funny February 29, 2012 at 11:04 pm

@ Kathy and Sarah: Thanks for the interesting comments! I had the impression that the AARP plan did allow for three exams & cleanings, plus it would pay 1/2 (or less) of certain procedures such as crowns — but only after you’d been insured for a minimum of one year.

A$k and ye shall receive. About $1500 is the going price for a crown around here, too. But if you tell a dentist that you’re uninsured, and especially if you can gild the lily by reporting that you’re unemployed, she or he may bring the price down.

I’ve found this is true of many doctors, too. If you’re paying in cash, they’ll cut you a deal.

mark March 16, 2012 at 1:44 pm

When we received an ad in the mail from AARP I called and asked them to explain the premium and restrictions to me. They would not do it so I looked at the website and found this:
For 2 peoplethe premium was about $109.00 per month.
In addition to an annual deductable you must pay 50% of the cost uner either plan A or B.
AARP should be ashamed to edorse or offer such a plan to seniors who are on a limited income. I think will drop my AARP membership entirely.
There are plans out there which cover fillings etc. after only 3 months and the premium is 1/2 of AARP Delta Dental. What a sham!!

Something is funny March 26, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I think you’ve made an error with this calculation $98 x 3 – $100 – ($20 x 3) = $134 You pay 60 in copays and 100 in deductible so you pay 160 not 134. Delta pays 134.

funny March 26, 2012 at 8:34 pm

@ Something is funny: Could be! I are a english major, i are not a math major. It’s always useful to check the arithmetic in my little calculations. ;-)

DONNA May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm

I found that the HMO replacement health ins. plans for Medicare like Humana, includes cleanings, x rays and exams at zero cost. They will allow a more extensive plan/coverage for a fee of around $26 per month. I found the additional discount with the no cost plan is $50. So my root canal will cost me $700 (with an in network dentist with state of the art equipment here in OH). The OSU school of dentistry, has quoted me a price of an average of $450 depends on individual needs. The cost for the cleaning and xrays will be waived if you arrive with them , and it was a recent cleaning, so, no need to go to Mexico try the Midwest. OSU has a great reputation. I thought I would look into Delta since I am an AARP member, thanks for the artical, I am dyslexic and really have to work at my math. May have gotten it not knowing about the waiting period.

Waka Tsunoda May 13, 2012 at 2:26 pm

I wanted to know about AARP dental plan, so I called a toll free number on its website. Several days later, I got a letter from a compnany called catalyst360 that since I talked with a licensed broker, I have to pay a fee. I could ask how much, the letter said, but it didn’t list its phone number, e mail address or even address on the letter.

The person I talked to never identified herself as a broker.I thought I was talking to AARP. I didn’t know I have to pay a broker’s fee on top of premiums to buy AARP dental plan.

funny May 13, 2012 at 3:26 pm

@ Waka Tsunoda: That sure sounds like a scam. According to its website, Catalyst360 is “a business unit of The Hartford, to handle calls for third-party clients involved in healthcare products and services for seniors.” Last I heard, the AARP dental plan was through Delta Dental, but I may oversimplify. You might want to call AARP itself and ask what the deal is and why you weren’t informed thgat you would be charged extra for…whatever this outfit does.

By E-mail
member@aarp.org

By Postal Mail

AARP
601 E Street, NW
Washington DC 20049

By Phone

Toll-Free Nationwide: 888-OUR-AARP (888-687-2277)
Toll-Free TTY: 877-434-7598
Toll-Free Spanish: 877-342-2277
International Calls: +1-202-434-3525

Another option might be to call a real insurance broker and find out if they can help you with dental insurance. Ask friends for the names of their brokers and call several of them, comparing offers. Note also what Donna has said on this string of comments: if you don’t object to HMO care, Medicare Advantage plans offer other benefits than those available through traditional Medicare, and it’s possible that some dental care might be included. Check it out. I do not use Medicare Advantage because of an extraordinarily nightmarish experience with a Blue Cross HMO, but if you have no problem with this type of delivery system, it might be worth considering.

Gayle Hughes May 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Both my husband and I have had a root canal and crown done in Mexico…not a border town….but while traveling there and needing work. Both times have been great, no problems, super price, good care and both have lasted for years. In my case, it’s been twelve years so far. My current dentist can’t tell which one was done in Mexico. My point being that there are wonderful dentists in Mexico at a fare price. Perhaps the one’s at the border towns not so much – plus the border towns are scary these days. But overall, Mexico rocks! Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

Jim July 5, 2012 at 6:42 am

Yes. AARP Delta Dental is ripping off seniors. For example, they do not reimburse for preventative care. Unlike all other plans/companies, AARP Delta Dental considers preventative care part of the deductible. So on top of paying for premiums (in my case $1441 a yr for a family of 3) I need to pay my dentist for cleaning for each family member, or additional $330 yr. Insurance should reward preventative care! bottom line: AARP Delta Dental cares more about profits then helping seniors in difficult times. If they eliminated their montly printed brochures, the printing and mailing costs could reduce plans such as delta dental for seniors.

heleninca July 26, 2012 at 7:59 am

I am wondering if any of you have come across any web sights that are advocating for social security medicare medicade or obamacare include dental care. I myself was infected with a gum disease in 1945 brought back by the troops called trench mouth. I was six and was just getting my permanent teeth. The big news of the day was penicillin and it came out in a chewable form for kids and that is what I was given and it made this horrid scum probably mold on my teeth when the disease cleared up it left me with black teeth and when the black teeth turned white again only part of the tooth had died and was crumbling so I spent the next 12 years unable to smile .
when 18 I found a dentist that was a genius at capping teeth and let me pay him by the month out of my 200.00 a month salary I earned as a bank bookkeeper. the point is that in the 50s there was very little payed medical and in the 60′s people placed very little value on dental care. It was hard to find coverage for physical illnesses. My parents were going to a county clinic for care before medicare.
no one thought teeth were that critical but now medicare covers proceedures that cost in the 100,000 range without batting an eyelash how about boob reduction for backpain payed by insurance industry who decides what is necessary. now everyone is getting an enlargement and paying for it themselves. Yet everyone is dealing with bad teeth that they say can cause something as serious as heart disease. I lost my teeth after a life long battle of trying everything possible to keep them. Loss of blood supply to your teeth will kill them and one year after they all turned black again and couldn’t be saved I had a heart attack . You can’t separate one part of the body and not expect it to affect the other parts. I t all should be covered by medical insurance

Bea K. December 11, 2012 at 9:20 am

Heleninca,
I also agree with you (to a certain extent, but not so sure about the ‘government’ standing right now, especially with the trillions in debt now owed) about the “Necessary Need for Dental Insurance”, but sadly I’m not sure if this will ever get done in my life time because we’re too busy spending money on things , and people who really could care less about this issue which I think will get worse as time goes on (“millions” of dollars given to “entertainers” for doing NOTHING, while the working class people can barely afford to eat, pay their rent, house payment, or medical expenses).
It’s been “years” since I’ve been to a dentist, have many broken teeth, in need of gum and other treatments, but just can’t afford the kind of money it would take to get it all fixed (Have had problems with my teeth since I was a very little girl, and things didn’t get any better since time has gone on). Why can’t employers be given some kind of ‘incentive’ to provide dental insurance as well for their employees, I just don’t get it.
Right now, all I’m looking for is, a way to get the rest of my teeth pulled, and a good pair of dentures (those ‘screwed in’ teeth scare me because of the ‘metal’ involved), to be able to eat with. Then again, maybe I’m asking too much here.

DONNA July 26, 2012 at 9:17 am

I found that after waiting a year for my 50ish payments and then paying the percentage due after an in network dentist did the work on my teeth I would pay more that the amount it would cost at the OSU dental school.

I have a medicare replacement program with basic x rays and cleanings covered and 1 filling per year. i took the xrays to the school,they did an exam for 30. Said before I can get my broken tooth capped I need to get two fillings done due to decay must come first. so back to the dentist for my one free per year then to OSU for the second 59.00 filling then onto my broken tooth which will cost about 400 to fix not the 1200 from the dentist….even with insurance paying 50 Percent i am better off.

Funny about Money July 26, 2012 at 11:57 am

@ Donna: That’s excellent! Others have said it’s a good idea to get routine work (at least) done at a dental school. I called the one here and found that probably they would do that at a discount, but first they wanted to do a huge, very expensive exam with elaborate X-rays. My dentist already has all those X-rays, and so submitting me to still more X-radiation and subjecting me to a big start-up bill seemed unnecessary.

I think one of the junior colleges has a dental assistant program; about once a year they do low-cost cleanings. One wonders, though, whether one really wants a beginner poking at one’s teeth.

{gronk!} I dunno. An AWFUL lot of people are saying they do just fine with the dentists in Mexico, I’m beginning to think it might be worth it to hop on one of those dental-tourist buses down to the border.

dduggerbiocepts August 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

The dental arts are still medieval. It’s the closest legal thing to a combination of torture and extortion. For some reason dental research really hasn’t made significant progress in the last 50 years – in spite of advancements in both medical and materials sciences. Dentist are still drilling and killing good teeth – as there best effort therapy. They have better pain killers today, shinier drills and more compact X-ray equipment, but most of their work in only semi-permanent at best and much of the work actually makes the situation worse – and or the teeth weaker. On my last trip to my dentist – when I could see an obvious cavity beside one my fillings in a molar, I didn’t say anything to the dentist. He quickly went through my mouth focused on a fractured tooth which he said I had to have pulled. Even with full mouth x-rays he never saw or mentioned the rather large cavity. He was focused on the real pay dirt – extraction, bridge and or implant. Let the cavity kill the tooth and then he would have another major billing. I go to several dentist – and this is typical not unusual.

We really need a new focus on real dental science and little less commercialization of the process that overly rewards bad and dubious work at excessive prices. Stem cell work that will allow us to regrow teeth seem to be far preferable to root canals and crowns and perhaps we can get past this torture and extortion.

ecent September 10, 2012 at 7:44 am

I need some type of dental insurance, I have a broke tooth in the back, one of my side tooth is getting rotten and I have several teeth than need to be refilled. I also need a gum cleaning cause my gums look very bad .
I thinking about delta or bluecross, but just feel like the money i am gaving to them can be spent on my teeth. Waiting period gets on my nerves.
I was frustrated when I went to the dentist school, it was very long day for me , getting off work. After working all night ,I set in this place for 5 hours before they called me ,got xrays and examines, the doctor wanted to pull my tooth after her student said it could be filled. When I read up on different proceedure there was different option that this lady never name to me. I was confuse on why the tooth at that time couldn’t be filled or cap. I refuse to let her filled it. Went to another dentist paid for exam and xray because the dentist school said it would take week for them to give me my xray,I don’t understand y, now the new detist says he can save the tooth,but I have to schedude to come back in three weeks cause this was just a exam schelude. The b4 my schedule day to come which was fours later my teeth crack more. When the doctor seen it he said it now need to be pulled and I would have to schedule apointment for that. Smh smh. I didn’t go back this place. Feel frustrated and piss. These dentist will pull the tooth before they try to fix the tooth to make quick money.

K. G. Sonderleiter November 19, 2012 at 12:13 am

Applied for a policy and six months later realized we never receved a policy. To date they have collected $500 and refuse to return it or an new policy. They even claim they are not responsible for delivering the policy. They even told me that it was my fault.

Sorry about your problems but they got me without a dentist. I wish all of us luck I fired the AARP who recomended this dental insurance(?)

Mats December 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I’m like most people with a tooth problem. I had a infected tooth had to have a Root canal the dentist told me I wanted him to pull the tooth but he said No if there was any life in a tooth the tooth could be fixed. So the dentist gave me a prescription for my infection until my Aarp dental insurance went into affect. I had to wait a year before I could have a root canal with Delta and by then I got another infection again. finally I went to get my root canal after my year was up. so then during the procedure of the root canal my dentist said he couldn’t finish the root canal because my tooth was cracking as he was working on it. so he had to pull the tooth. So I was very unhappy I spent $628 just to keep my AARP with DELTA Dental so I could get my teeth fix. Now, I got a letter saying my quarterly cost has gone up. from $157.00 to $170.00 for 3 months. So yes I searching to change to another Dental Plan.
Does any body Know of a Plan that you don’t have to pay your life savings. Thinking about going with
Dental Plan.com with AETNA ACCESS for $114.96 a year Or Dente Max $124.95. a year

Gail Gabel February 6, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I should have done my homework and read this article BEFORE signing up for RIP-OFF Dental Dental through AARP. I’ve already paid for 3 premiums of $88.05 each. It’s supposed to cover THREE cleanings a year…my first one just got DENIED. Just a ROUTINE cleaning, not even a dentist visit….DENIED. They didn’t pay a frickin’ dime. I am so sick and tired of being ripped off by insurance, dental plans and so much more it’s not funny. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR DELTA DENTAL THROUGH AARP. The orginal poster of this article is 100% correct. It’s cheaper to pay out of pocket.

funny February 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm

@ Gail– Thanks for visiting…sorry you found out about this the hard way. But hang onto your hat: you ain’t seen nothin’ yet till you see Medicare Part D!

Aark March 15, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I just got off the phone with a licensed “agent” with AARP to try and make some sense of the fees and benefits. In my state, the cheapest plan through AARP is $42 /month. That comes to $504 year. The max they will pay is $1000. I asked the agent what was I getting to make it worth me paying $504 to get perhaps $$1400 in benefits. This is a standard type question for which no personal info is needed/required to respond. The agent told me that the answer depends on gathering personal info such as my last name, birthdate, etc. I again stated that I was simply trying to get clarification of what is stated on the website and it had nothing to do with me at all.

Next, I asked why there was such a difference between the $42 / month premium and $102 premium charged by Delta Dental. (I had already contacted Delta Dental who could not give a rational answer and said I had to contact the individual companies). Obviously, there are PPO’s HMO’s etc. Apparently, some of the disparity has to do with such. However, the agent could not give me any logical explanation and again stated that he could not help me without knowing my personal info.

I will not have anything to do with this company and probably will not join AARP as a result of this whole ordeal as it appears they have not screened this company properly and it only makes me wonder about other products/services they offer.

funny March 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Arrrrgghhh! People need to tell AARP this — especially those of us who are recruited into the organization just because we hit a certain age.

IMHO, you’re right to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Take $1,000 out of savings and stick it in a dental-work self-escrow account. Then contribute $42 a month — the amount of the proposed premium — into that account. With any luck, if your teeth are more or less OK you can escape anything more than routine cleanings until you’ve squirreled away enough to cover more heavy-duty work.

I’m finding I have no problem paying for routine care out of pocket.

hannibalsmith March 26, 2013 at 12:37 pm

you obviously have no idea what you are talking about if you go to their website at deltadentalins.com/aarp you can see what the plans cover isn’t difficult to see you enrolled into plan b it’s right there in black and white

funny March 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Aren’t you a charmer. You know, you can take courses to correct that problem. Or try therapy.

Dental April 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

The AARP plan is a PPO plan, you have a much wider selection of dentists and you don’t need a primary care dentist. You pay extra for that type of flexibility be it Dental or Medical plans.

Also the benefit isn’t the $1000 or $1500 maximum annual benefit, it’s the lower pre-negotiated rates that the dentists have to charge to be members of the plan.

Example, in NYC, crowns run nearly $2,000 but on the plan it runs around $1000, so if you have 3 crowns put in or replaced, you save $3000. Same applies for root canals, implants and other costly procedures.

funny April 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

@ Dental: I’m not sure I understand your point.

What my and other commenters’ experience indicates is that the deductible is so high that the premiums are never likely to be cost-effective, especially if you don’t suffer from chronic dental problems. Unlike the case with employer-sponsored Delta Dental plans, the deductible on an individual plan is even applied to routine cleanings, so at least half the cost of a year’s worth of cleaning (possibly more) is not covered.

Then you must subscribe to the individual plan for a full year before you’re eligible for a crown or any other major work. By then you’ve paid out considerably more than the $1,000 a New Yorker would save on a single crown, since you would have had to sign up for two years’ worth of coverage and the deductible would be applied against cleanings as well as the crown. Our hypothetical New Yorker needing a new crown would be better off or at least no worse if she paid for the work out of pocket.

funny March 27, 2013 at 4:06 pm

What what will do to healthcare? Did you mean to say that making insurance companies stop ripping people off will harm healthcare in this country? Why? How?

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