Why I’m Considering Dropping Dental Insurance

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday, I got a bill in the mail from the dentist.  $495 for an oral appliance, and my insurance won’t cover any of it.  Why on earth do I have dental insurance, if it won’t cover any of this stupid piece of plastic?  Let’s get a little background on what happened….

The Big Guy has jaw issues (to go along with his knee, hip, and eye issues, but that is a story for another time, lol).  His jaw popped continually, he couldn’t open his mouth all of the way, and he was in constant pain.  He then went to the dentist, like anyone would have done, hoping that they would have a solution.  and what do you know?  They did.  Yeah, of course they did…

The Big Guy, being the money-conscious guy that he is, talked with the lady in charge of billing about the cost of the oral appliance, and she assured him that our dental insurance would take care of it.  He asked a couple of different times that appointment, and when everyone told him it would be covered, he made the appointment to be fitted for one.

The day of the appointment, The Big Guy got to the dentist, signed in, and double-checked to make sure that the appliance would be entirely covered by our dental insurance.  The lady again assured him that there would be no expense to him.

Fast forward to yesterday, as I’m opening the mail.  I see an envelope with a return address of our dentist’s office.  I have a sinking feeling as I open it and then I see the $495.00 total at the bottom along with the little, super helpful sticker that says “Oral appliance is not a covered expense under your insurance.”  Oh yeah.  I was pissed.   But I kept opening the mail and came across another lovely piece of information – the statement from our insurance company.  I don’t know what the proper term for it is, but it was the statement you get when a claim is submitted stating what was paid by the insurance company and the amount that the provider may bill you for.  In our case, dental insurance was billed for the entire $495, an expense that they do not cover.  Go figure.


So now I’m livid, as this was an expense that we did not plan for, so logically, now that I have medical name for the oral appliance I pull out the dental insurance book and find out that – sure enough! – it is not a covered expense.  however, I’m not done yet, and if I’m going to ream the dental office a new one, I have to be sure that my information is correct, so I call up the insurance company.

I have to say, I was kind of impressed.  The wait on hold was less than 5 minutes, and my conversation with the person on the phone was less than 10 minutes, just verifying that was the insurance booklet said was correct.  The verdict: the appliance was not covered.

Is the insurance’s fault? No, no it is not.  They never changed what they covered.  It was the dentist’s office that lied.  Or was lazy and didn’t want to find out.  Either way, I’m pissed.

Should I have called the insurance company directly? Probably?

Lesson learned: Go through the insurance company when finding out what the cost will be.


So now, while I should probably call the dentist’s office, I’m not going to.  Instead, they are getting $20 a month until the stupid thing is paid off. Just.  Because. I’m.  Pissed.

Needless to say, we will not be going back to this dentist.

But now, we have come full circle to my point.  I an considering dropping dental insurance. Dental insurance is worthless.  At best, it is a discount plan.  Our yearly cleanings are free, but anything above and beyond that is covered 50%, at most.  Really, its rather atrocious.  In fact, I think we might drop it, because as I look at it from a financial perspective, its just not worth it.

Think about it:  Monthly Dental Insurance Premium: $27.47 per month, or $329.64 per year.  We do get free yearly cleaning for all three of us which is approximately $127 (source) per person.  Even factoring in Baby Girl, who is not yet old enough to go to the dentist, the benefit is only $381.00.  Baby Girl won’t go to the dentist until she’s 6, and I hate going, so I won’t go, so is it really worth it?  I suppose if we had a big expense, our premiums are so low that I would pay off, but I don’t know what to do.

What do you think?  Is my dental insurance worth it?  Do you have dental insurance?

Enjoy

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I Saved 80% Making Baby Food!

One of the things I have committed to since baby RB40 was born was making sure that she eats cleanly – especially in her first year of life.  I believe it is extremely important that she have a good nutritional basis, as well as give her the best immune support that I can during this critical time of development.  This means breastfeeding  - pumping at work, and making baby food ourselves. When I first committed to doing this, I was super scared that the process would be time-consuming, but come to find out, it is super-easy. In fact, I found that I kind of enjoy the process!

trays

The Necessities: My absolute favorite ice cube tray for freezing the food are the ones pictured above.  I have no idea what brand they are, but you can get them at dollar tree for, well, a dollar apiece and they’re awesome!  See those little colored parts in the bottom of them?  Those are silicone, so when I go to pop out the baby food pieces, I can pop out one at a time without having pieces falling everywhere.  Seriously awesome!

The next thing you need is a good food processor or blender.  My personal favorite is my Ninja Blender.  The way the blades are shaped makes it like both a food processor and blender all-in-one, and let me tell you, this thing is a beast!

carrots

Also, you’re going to need something to store the food in.  For a long time while I was pregnant, I had friends and family who bought baby food save their glass jars for me.  Consequently I have about a week’s worth of jars, so I freeze as much food in those as I can, and then then freeze the leftovers (I do a month’s worth at a time) in the ice cube trays.  If you don’t have glass containers, have people save them for you, or consider purchasing small plastic storage containers from Amazon.  While the ice cube pieces are nice, having it already in the jar is even nicer!  If you choose to go the ice cube route, make sure you have plenty of plastic bags on hand  as well as a sharpie for labeling!

How It Went Down:  Waaay easier than expected.  I did pears my first time, so I cut them in quarters, removed the seeds, and steamed them until they were super soft.  I have no idea how long – maybe 20 minutes?

pears

Then I popped them in the blender (no water needed) and blended them until there were no skin pieces left visible.  Once that was done, I simply filled as many baby food jars as I wanted and spooned the rest into ice cube trays.  The whole process took literally 10 minutes (minus steaming time).

DSC_1635

What are good first foods for baby?

  • Green Beans

  • Carrots

  • Squash/Pumpkin

  • Sweet Potato

  • Sweet Peas

  • Avacado

  • Spinach/Kale

  • Applesauce

  • Bananas

  • Pears

  • Peaches

  • Mango

  • Raspberry/Blueberry

  • Turkey

  • Chicken

Some Notes: Be careful making more than 1 month’s worth at a time – because homemade baby food does not have preservatives in it like the store bought stuff, it WILL spoil faster.

Green Beans, Carrots, Pears, Peaches and Bananas require no added water

Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Peas, and Mango do require extra water

Turkey and Chicken are good mixed in with vegetables.  Baby girl loves turkey mixed with her sweet potatoes!  When mixing in meats, you will probably have to add a little water…just FYI

Avacado, Spinach, Kale, and Berries are good mix-ins with other foods.  I wouldn’t try feeding them alone – you WILL get spit on!  However, those foods are really good for them and it is always good to introduce your baby to lots of foods!

Of course, I couldn’t let you go without doing a cost breakdown:

6 jars of baby food per day x 5 months = 900 jars of baby food

Cost per Jar @ a store: $0.50 x 900 = $450.00

Cost per Jar Homemade: $0.10 x 900 = $90.00

That’s an 80% Savings!

Personally, I make a month’s worth of food at a time.  2 hours on a Saturday and I’m done, which is not bad considering that my daughter has healthy baby food that is free of artificial ingredients, GMO’s, all dyes and coloring – plus and I’m saving 80% to boot!

Have you made your own baby food?  Did you find that you enjoyed it, or did you prefer to buy it?

Enjoy

 

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Baby Food Collage

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Some Surprises in What You Must Earn to Buy in 25 Cities

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What you must earn to buy a house

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I love spending time on MSN Money and MSN Real Estate.  So many things to do and see! One of the more interesting things I have found lately is “What You Must Earn To Buy in 25 Cities”.  Basically, what salary you must earn to be buy a house that would leave you able to afford the principle and interest payments on a median-priced home in 25 cities in the United States?  Let’s face it, I just wanted to see where St. Louis landed on the list.  Call it morbid curiosity ;-)

How did they come up with this data?

“To find out, HSH.com took the National Association of Realtors’ fourth-quarter data for median home prices and HSH.com’s fourth-quarter average interest rate for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages to determine how much of your salary it would take to afford the base cost of owning a home — the principal and interest — in 25 metro areas.”

They used industry standard 28% as the calculation for “front-end” debt ratios (the percentage of take-home income that could be tied up by a mortgage payment) and a 20% down payment.  I do not agree with this “standard” calculation, but HSH did mention that a higher income would absolutely need to be much higher to support taxes, insurance and maintenance required by owning a home.

At the low end:

Cleveland, OH, where the median home price is $112,800, mortgage rates are sitting at 4.43%, and the salary needed to support a mortgage was $19,435.17.  The monthly payment would be $453.49, but with take-home pay sitting somewhere around $1,375, I would not be comfortable with that payment AT ALL! That payment would be way too much for the average American family that was already in debt!

St. Louis – my city! As number 3 on the list, with the average home price clocking in at $130,300 and the income needed at $22,397.54.  How does this make me feel?  Thank you for asking!  First, I am gloating because I bought my home for $46,000 and it just appraised for $124,500.  Whoop Whoop!  Second, I make twice the income needed to buy in St. Louis, and even on my income I would NOT purchase a home at $130K!

Some Surprises -

Chicago (#10), with a median home price of $187,100 and income of $32,388.90 needed to buy.  I thought Chicago would be more expensive, but I suppose that homes in “bad” areas really don’t sell for all that much, which lowers the average home cost.

Pheonix (#11), with a median home price of $192,700 and necessary income of $32,811.94.  We thought about moving to Phoenix a year or two ago, and when we looked at houses, there were tons of brand new never-lived-in houses for $80K or less.  Maybe home prices have risen in the last year and a half, which is good news for the economy in Phoenix!

Washington DC – clocking in at #20, the median home price was listed as $368,000.  I have never been to DC, nor have I priced homes there, but doesn’t it seem as if that should be higher?

New York, NY – with a median home price of $386,300, again, shouldn’t that be higher?  Isn’t New York know for having an extremely high cost of living?

Most expensive

San Francisco with a median home price of $682,410 and income needed at $115,510.06. I totally thought that New York would be the big winner!

Some flaws – Big cities, as these all are, tend to have “good” and “bad” areas to live in.  Logically, in the “good” areas home prices will be significantly higher, and in the “bad” areas they will be dirt cheap.  While I am sure that there are some homes in the median price range, I get the feeling that most homes are either expensive or cheap, meaning you either have to pony up more cash, or live in a less than desirable area.  This flaws the median home price to be something unattainable.

What do you think?  How do home prices stack up in your area?

Enjoy

 

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