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Posts tagged with: dental work

Brace Payment Be Gone

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Braces have been part of our lives for almost five years now. You can read some history in these two older posts.

A Car or Braces

Braces – Part II

But I am excited to announce that as of yesterday, all brace debt is GONE! Paid the final $460 payment!

(Braces were not in my budget as I have maxed out my FSA deductions from my W2 job and have been using it to make the payments since I started my W2 job in March.)

Man, this feels good!


The Year of Becoming an Adult: September Update

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In October of last year I wrote about some of the financial goals we have for the year 2015. I called it “The Year of Becoming an Adult” as a way to acknowledge that, at the ages of 31 and 32, we really should have had these tasks taken care of long ago! It was long past time and 2015 was our year to tackle these important adult milestones.

There were four things, specifically, that I had mentioned. Time for a little status update on each of them:

  1. First, we’re going to make a will. This is finally done! I actually made the wills on my birthday (December 31st), but it took us MONTHS to get them notarized! In our state we had to have two witnesses and we had a hard time getting people to be our witness. We asked bank employees (nope), we asked friends (yes, but had a hard time finding a time that worked for 2 separate friends at the same time), and finally we got it done when hubs’ mom and grandma came to visit a couple months ago. Kind of ridiculous that it required two people coming to visit us who could serve as our witnesses, but the bottom line is this task is finally completed and behind us.
  2. Second, husband will get life insurance. Quick recap for newer readers – hubs had a mystery illness at the end of 2013. In summer of 2014 I got life insurance and tried to get him some, but he was rejected due to the mystery illness (doctors never found out exactly what was wrong with him). He was advised to wait a year and try again. So initially we were going to reapply at the beginning of this summer. But hubs has been on a hard-core mission to lose weight and wanted to wait until his weight-loss is complete so he can try to get better prices on life insurance. He started his weight-loss mission on June 1st and in the 3 ½ months since then he’s lost a total of FIFTY POUNDS!!! Yes! It’s incredible! Like watching an episode of extreme weight loss in front of my eyes! He wants to lose another 20 lbs. but I think we’ll probably initiate the life insurance process early next month (October). I remember from last time around that it was a couple-month process – not a quick overnight thing like I had expected. So this should still be done by the end of the year, but hasn’t been handled yet.
  3. Third, we’re going to open retirement accounts. Success! In April (before tax day), we opened up our first Roth IRA for 2014. It was a meager contribution ($1,000), but it was a start. For most months this year we’ve been setting aside $100 to be added to the Roth. But then when I started my full-time job in mid-July things really kicked it up a gear. I’m now contributing 10% of my full-time job income to a retirement account, which is being matched up to 7% from my employer. In addition to that, I’ve opened up a FSA (flexible spending account) for dependent care. I contribute $500/paycheck of pre-tax money so I can pay for the girls’ care with pre-tax dollars. I actually haven’t made a withdrawal from the account yet (and I need to!), so I need to figure out how to do that. But the point is that we’re now contributing to various retirement accounts (mostly through my employer’s 401a but still a little in a Roth), as well as taking advantage of a tax-advantaged FSA.
  4. Finally, we’re going to open college savings accounts for our girls. This one still hasn’t happened yet. Starting in June (the month of their birth), we’ve been setting aside $25/month with the intention of opening up a college savings account. Honestly, I’ve been so overwhelmed with work and stuff happening with my Dad that I haven’t been able to investigate into this further. Matt made it sound like it was super easy-peasy when he opened up an account for his niece, so I just need to bite the bullet and do it. In the meantime, the money has been earmarked for this purpose (I categorize it using YNAB’s budgeting system), so it’s available when I finally do get around to actually opening an account. I’ll go ahead and put this on my To Do List for the beginning of October, too. So I’ll call this a half-success since we’ve actively started saving the money but haven’t actually funneled it into an appropriate account yet. The intention is there, so now it’s just a matter of the follow-through!

Those were the main things I had discussed in my original Year of Becoming an Adult post, but I’m also happy to announce that hubs is finally getting a handle on his dental issues, too (never mind that it took an all out emergency to make that happen). Actually, TODAY is the day he’s getting his first quadrant of work done! He’d gone to the dentist right after the emergency but had to be put on antibiotics before any actual work could be done so today is the D-Day (D as in Dental work). We’re hoping to knock out one other quadrant before the new year (to max out our dental insurance benefits), but that probably won’t be scheduled until late November or December sometime to allow us a couple months to try to save up some more money. Remember – this round of dental work cost $665. I’m not sure what the next quadrant will cost but I’m assuming it will be pretty comparable. Allowing for a couple months’ buffer to restock our dental savings account is really helpful for us.

So there you have it!

#1 = check!

#2 = in progress

#3 = check!

#4 = in progress

BONUS (dental work) = in progress

 

I’d love to report more successes/check-marks but with the cards life has dealt us this year I’m pleased with our progress. When life gets crazy, baby steps is all we can ask for. As long as we’re moving forward we’re moving in the right direction! : )

I’ll be sure to update in a few months when I can hopefully report that ALL of these items have been checked off the “Year of Becoming an Adult” list!


Dental Emergency: Blessing in Disguise???

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If you’re a long-term reader, I’ve discussed the issue of dental work ad nauseum (1, 2, 3, 4 times where I’ve dedicated an entire post to the topic; probably several more times where I’ve mentioned it in reference to monthly budgeting). Long story short, hubs’ has a lot of dental issues. A lot! I’ve now been blogging here 18 months and I think he’s had 2 or 3 emergency root canals during that time. He has lots of other dental needs, too, but he’s got some dental anxiety issues (not to mention it’s -ahem- challenging to get him to take a day off to go to the dentist. Gotta love him!). So he’s mostly been operating on an emergency dental situation basis. Very reactive instead of proactive.

Yes, this is a terrible way of handling things.

Yes, it’s more expensive this way.

Yes, dental health is extremely important and can influence health in other ways, too.

He knows all this, but is a grown man and cannot be forced into something against his will. I know, I’ve tried. ; )

Anywho….we’ve got our latest dental emergency, folks!

A few nights ago at dinner hubs bit into something; his eyes got wide and his face grew pale. My first guess was that a crown had fallen out (he’s had that happen before).

Nope.

His tooth fell out. But not his whole tooth. The majority-but not all-of a tooth. A back molar he’d had a root canal and crown put on about 4 years ago. The one that was repaired in Mexico (I’ve mentioned it here). So there’s no way he can go back and make the dentist fix it. No warranties or anything like that.

Now, while this is enough to ruin anyone’s day, I am choosing to look at this as a blessing in disguise. I’ve had a terrible time trying to get hubby back to the dentist. This little issue (ahem – having a tooth fall out!!!) has forced him back to the dentist. Only, now we’ve got dental insurance (YAYAYAYAYAY for the new job!) Hubs has already gone to a new in-network dentist and had x-rays done (something he’s been opposed to in the past) and had a plan drawn up for how to handle his dental issues. The dentist will work in quadrants in his mouth and we’ve already pre-paid for his first quadrant (which will include filling 2 cavities, 2 extractions – one for this tooth and one for a wisdom tooth he’d never had removed, and completing a bone graft for a future tooth implant). Total cost out of pocket is $665. For a little comparison, when I paid to get a filling last year (before insurance), I paid $171. Through insurance, our cost for a filling is only $26 per tooth! Wahoo! What a savings!

Our dental insurance does have an annual per-person maximum that they’ll cover so we’re trying to be strategic about things. But, luckily, they go by calendar year (not actual year; like, July through July since that’s when we got the insurance). So we’ll likely max out their coverage on hubs by December and then be able to start over again in 2016.

Ultimately, this is going to cost us a lot of money. Thousands of dollars. BUT we’ll FINALLY be getting ahead of hubs’ dental problems. Instead of always operating on a reactionary basis (aka:  getting a root canal once a cavity has gone untreated for so long that the whole thing is rotting away), we’ll be able to start rectifying hubs’ many dental issues and getting on top of them before they turn into major catastrophic dental emergencies!

And, fortunately, we had $700 in our dental/health/vision savings account. I just wrote a check for $665 to pre-pay this first quadrant of work. But at least it was money we already had earmarked specifically for this purpose (so it does NOT impact this month’s budget). But instead of saving only a hundred bucks a month or so toward dental, we’ll certainly need to increase those savings on the short-term. Hopefully this means much better oral and overall health on the long-term!

Do you have a partner whose stubborn about going to the dentist? What have you done to help ease their anxiety?


Dental Care – Teaching Style

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I think almost every blogger here on BAD has had some sort of dental emergency and got caught without insurance or some help to cover it.  So I thought I’d weigh in on what we do.  Full disclosure, the twins do have full dental coverage and I have utilized that quite a bit, especially when they first moved in since they had never been to a dentist and had to learn more about personal hygiene.  But we are caught up now, and are mostly in maintenance mode.

For several years, I carried a stand alone dental policy for me and the littles.  It was $75 per month, covered 100% of basic maintenance except fluoride and gave us about a 20% discount on other services.  We have been blessed with good dental health and as I weighed the cost of the insurance against what I was spending, well, it just didn’t make sense.  So the next year, I signed up for my dentists own in office plan which for about $600 for the 3 of us, all the basic maintenance including sealants and fluoride were covered.

Then last year, I know, bad mommy, I decided to forego dental anything.  We didn’t go to the dentist at all.  Again, bad mommy moment but forking over that money is the midst of debt pay off, well, I just couldn’t stomach it for what we needed.

Now we are here, and I think a year without at least a check up is long enough SO we’ve decided to visit the local community college dental hygiene school.  For all of us to go, get thorough exams by the students (under faculty observation,) get fluoride treatments, sealants as needed, xrays, etc….it’s going to cost me a whopping $65!  I am so excited about this.  And they are just 15 minutes from my house.

I set it up several months in advance so we can all go at once.  It will be several hours for the appointment as it is a teaching facility, but compare to the $1000+ , then $600+ and now to $65 for what we’ve been getting the last four years, I am super excited.  Obviously, if issues are found, I will have to revisit our previous dentist, but since we just recently had ortho appts and they found no cavities, I’m feeling pretty confident that it’s just the $65 this time around.

Anyways, just wanted to share my dental win!  Appointment is still several weeks away, but I just received their brochure and confirmation card in the mail this week so thought it was a good time to share.

For those who chimed in on my braces post, we’ve decided to hold off on braces.  All the kids know the end game of this debt pay off journey and know that adding the braces payment to that could really set us back a bit.  I did let each of the twins choose independently on how important it was for them, with weigh in from me, and I think we’ve reached a good compromise on all sides.  We’ll revisit my daughter’s in the next year, hopefully with some help from her dad, and let her decide with some parental input.


Dental, dental, dental

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Little dental update:  I ended up paying an extra $30 for a special fluoride treatment the dentist recommended, so my total was $69 (for regular cleaning, x-ray, exam, and extra fluoride treatment). I paid using my debit card and plan to transfer money from my Capital One 360 checking, where I’ve been saving for dental/vision. It knocks the account balance down to $50, but I won’t be needing this money again until August (for my vision appt.), so there should be enough to build back up and be able to pay for new glasses/contacts if my prescription changes (Remember, my insurance covers the exam – minus copay – but I owe out-of-pocket for glasses/contacts).

Since I just went to the dentist this morning it seems a fitting time to have this conversation….

We do not have dental insurance.

I am fortunate in that my teeth have always been pretty good. I’ve never needed braces, only had a couple cavities ever (and they were YEARS ago), and generally have pretty good oral hygeine.

My husband……not as lucky.

For him the problem extends decades back. His family never paid for dental insurance while he was growing up, so seeing the dentist – at all – was a rarity (in contrast, I was on my parent’s plan until I was 18 and have continued pretty regular care since then by using Groupons to have cleanings done). So, even when we met, his teeth were not in the greatest shape. Add to that the fact that he smoked for over a decade (he quit cold turkey the day our babies were born….a total shock to me!), which certainly compounded the problem. And he hates the dentist and still refuses to make regular appointments.

Okay.

So all that back history being stated, let me tell you a little story:

On Thanksgiving of 2011, after Thanksgiving festivities, we decided we wanted to try to hit up the Black Friday sales at midnight. We were stuffed from eating and decided to take an evening nap before shopping. We set our alarms for 11 pm.

Our alarms went off as planned but our plans were quickly derailed. Chris’ face was swollen so large it looked like he’d been in a fight (I looked for a photo I know I had taken, but can’t find anywhere! Argh! It looked terrible).

Turns out, we spent our day-after-Thanksgiving driving to Mexico.

We live in Tucson, about an hour north of the border. The largest industry in Nogales, Mexcio is dentistry (seconded by pharmacy). Many of the dentists were even trained in the States but ended up practicing in Mexcio. There are obvious “cons” of traveling to Mexico for dental care (particularly with all the problems with drug wars), but because its such a huge industry, its easy to find safe, clean, and reputable places. I would NOT just walk in somewhere off the street (some are super-sketch!), but if you do your research you can find a good place. Anyway, Chris had a horrible infection that required antibiotics and a root canal. This took 3 separate trips because the infection was so bad (1st trip = get antibiotics, let infection and swelling subside, 2nd trip = do the root canal and add a temporary crown, 3rd trip = place the permanent crown). This was pre-baby days so it was no biggie and we would just go together for an afternoon trip. The whole thing ended up costing $800. It’s still a sizable chunk of change, but its not terrible. My Mom has dental insurance and still has to pay $1000 out of pocket for a root canal and crown, so our (uninsured) price was even cheaper than that of others’ who have insurance.

Everything has been great since he got his crown and he hasn’t had any problems.

However…..he needs a lot more dental work. A lot. We had an exam when he was at the dentist and everything is just a mess, so we’re trying to decide what to do. Some of the work isn’t as immediate, but some of it is more pressing (and involves more expensive procedures – more root canals and crowns, as well as several cavity fillings, wisdom teeth extraction, and more). At this point, his initial appointment was  two and a half years ago so I’m sure things have only gotten worse and it feels like a ticking time bomb until his face explodes with infection again!

So at some point before our debt-payoff journey is complete we’ll be forced to cash-flow some expensive procedures. I’m hoping we can hold out on this until 2015 so we can make some serious progress this year, but there’s no telling if or when a tooth (already in need of root canal) will become infected and require immediate attention.

So the question…..

What would you do? Just hold out and wait as long as possible? Try to get some work scheduled? Would you go to Mexcio or buy dental insurance? Like I mentioned, Mexico prices seem to be even cheaper than  insurance prices (not to mention the insurance premiums), but it requires a full afternoon trip + mileage etc. Also, we would have to make sure he isn’t given any drugs that make him unable to drive because ain’t no way I’m taking the babies to Mexcio (the 2011 dental work was pre-baby days), so he’ll be solo.


More Dental Woes…

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This will come as a surprise but… I broke a dental crown and needed emergency dental work.

Oh who am I kidding? I ALWAYS need dental work.

Was I eating a steak? Nachos? Rocks? Nope. I was eating a slice of warm fresh bread from the oven. Leave it to me to break a crown on a silly slice of bread.

After spending approximately 10 seconds popping the rest of the crown out, my dentist informed me that whoever put in the crown, simply glued down a temporary. ‘This is some pretty bad work’ she said from behind her mask ‘Hopefully it didn’t cost you much.’

‘I paid $1,100 for that crown. I remember. I had to finance it’ I said.

How much is the replacement? $800.

Thankfully insurance is covering $500. Ugh. But that still leaves me with a $300 bill.

I hate teeth.