Last Thursday I went to the dentist, and I got the news I knew I would, but with more finality than I expected.
I have to have my wisdom teeth out.
My mouth is… not small, and my wisdom teeth were never impacted and fit in there just fine. So I hadn’t had them out as a teenager like many people do. My last dentist had made noises about me getting them out because one of them wasn’t quite fully erupted, but he didn’t explain more than that. (I’ve since decided, after starting with our new dentist, that the last dentist wasn’t the best of dentists). We just got dental insurance in August 2007, so now we go to a different dentist and this was my first appointment with him. They did a lot more things than the last dentist did, including measuring my gums compared to my teeth, and determined that my gums are slightly receding – which could be a problem but might not turn out to be, so that’s a wait and see thing as I go to this dentist regularly and he sees if they continue to recede or if they’re just like that normally. But around my wisdom teeth, especially the not quite fully erupted one, my gums are receding a lot, and if left unchecked, I’ll not only lose my wisdom teeth but the molars next to them too.
Well of course, I don’t want that to happen. So out come the wisdom teeth.
The bad news is – my dental insurance doesn’t cover oral surgery. They claim my medical insurance should cover it. Well, my medical insurance has an exception in their policy for oral surgery such as wisdom teeth removal. They don’t cover it. The dentist says they’ll submit the charges to both and see what happens but honestly, I am not holding my breath. Our health insurance is generally good but they are very picky about things and my dental insurance is pretty useless for more than cleanings and x-rays. So I am about 98% sure I will be paying out of pocket for this procedure.
$382 per tooth. Plus $50 for the medicine to make me not feel it.
So… I have a $1600 expense looming. I can’t do it right now but I also can’t wait too long. The dentist would prefer I have them out in February but I am going to wait until September. Our Flexible Spending Account for medical expenses, for some reason, runs August 1st – July 31st instead of Jan 1st – Dec 31st like most peoples. We also have a fairly low cap we can put it in each year ($750) which I also don’t understand, but oh well. The company my spouse works for was talking about raising that limit for next year so we are going to look into that, but if they don’t, this is my plan to get the teeth out without going into further debt:
- Use all of the money in the FSA for 2008-2009 for the procedure. That should leave about $900 left for us to pay out of pocket. We did this for hospital expenses for both my pregnancies so we know we are okay without the FSA to dip into all year.
- Save $2000 in our emergency fund between now and September instead of $1000 so I can use the difference to pay for the procedure.
No, this is not an “emergency” because I know about it, the saving it in the emergency fund is just a convenience feature so I don’t have to set up a new account to save for the dentist. I intend to start saving $150/month towards this in March, which means I would save $1050 by September when I have the procedure. Maybe my spouse’s FSA will go up in August and we’ll be able to use more of that towards it and less out of savings. That’d be great news.
I’m thankful I can at least plan for this. I got the news about the teeth in the midst of the car repair drama and I needed to just let it sit in my head and process for a while before I could formulate a plan. Sometimes too many things hit at once. But now, I have a plan.
Bye bye wisdom teeth. Well, 9 months from now, and without further added to our debt total if all goes according to plan. My spouse has his 6 month checkup tomorrow… hopefully no more bad news. (Update: not only does he get to keep his wisdom teeth, he didn’t have so much as a cavity. )