First of all, I am lucky to have dental benefits in the first place. According to the American Dental Association, only about half of the U.S. population is covered by a private dental benefit plan. But even those that are covered, in my experience and research, still face hefty out of pocket costs if they require complex care. My father, for instance, has yet to replace a temporary crown in his mouth because it costs about the same as a slightly used car to replace.
Back when I had to have my dental surgery, I looked up my benefits to make sure I would not incur any out of pocket costs - that I frankly couldn't afford. And I was pleased to learn I had a maximum annual benefit of $1800 a year. The surgery was billed to me at $1100 (I nearly had a heart attack when I opened that) but I think it was negotiated by my insurance company at a lower rate.
It was not until today, however, that I discovered my unionized counterparts in State government have an annual benefit of $2300. WTF? And job security, wow, if only I could join their ranks.
Judging from the amount of cavities I've had filled this year (3), my two cleanings and my surgery I predict I have just about used up my entire $1800. Which is good for me since I got all these issues addressed and didn't need to spend more than $25 - the deductible I still haven't gotten around to paying - but bad for my wisdom teeth. They need to come out.
I've known for a good six months or so that my wisdom teeth were impacted. All four of them. I am not experiencing any pain with them but my dentist told me if I leave them in it will start to shift my other teeth and they will be hard to clean when I age. I know I can't afford to take them out now and hope I can either wait a little longer to have the surgery or keep my job. Ideally both.
I asked my dentist whether or not he thinks the oral surgeon could run the procedure through my health insurance instead of my dental - an all too common bit of administrative trickery - and he was uncertain. His coworker overheard the question and was a little more honest - that it would be up to the oral surgeon (aka he'd have to exaggerate on the forms a bit). I don't want to be considered a liar or a cheat but does it make sense to you that the same surgery is covered by one piece of paper but not the other? What would you do?