A Look At Canadian And US “Mini-Med” Health And Dental Insurance

My Wealth Builder hosted the 150th (!) Cavalcade of Risk this week – be sure to check out this collection of risk-related posts from around the internet.  I found this post by Glenn Cooke (guest posting on Boomer & Echo) particularly interesting, since it deals with topics that we often cover here at Colorado Health Insurance Insider… but from a Canadian perspective.

Glenn notes that although most people there have provincial health insurance policies, they often get additional coverage from their employers for things like prescriptions and dental care.  And he points out that all too often, people think that they’re “covered” just because they have a health insurance card in their hands – even though the coverage might have very low annual limits.  Of course that only becomes a problem when you have a catastrophic claim, which is of course when you need your health insurance the most.

Although the ACA has nixxed lifetime benefit maximums on health insurance policies here in the US, significantly increased annual maximum thresholds, and designated several categories of “essential benefits” that must be covered at specified levels, HHS has granted plenty of waivers for employers who are offering “mini-med” policies to their workers.  These policies are far from being a safety net in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury, and often only cover a few thousand dollars in benefits per year.  They remind me a lot of the type of policies Glenn is describing.

Glenn’s article also addresses dental insurance, and the fact that the coverage provided in most cases is really just allowing you to pay for your dental care (plus a bit of a markup) on a monthly basis rather than all at once when you go for a cleaning or to have routine dental work done.  This is the case with most individual and small group dental plans here in Colorado too.  Most of them have relatively low annual benefit maximums.  Need a cleaning and a filling?  That’s probably going to be covered.  Need an implant?  You’re probably going to be on the hook for a good amount of money out of pocket.  If your employer is offering dental insurance at no cost (or a very low cost) to you, it’s wise to take it, since the employer is subsidizing a lot of your dental expenses that way.  But if you have to buy it on your own, you might be better off just saving the money yourself and budgeting for your dental needs.  If you end up having a large dental expense, it’s likely that dental insurance won’t cover much of it anyway.

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for healthinsurance.org, medicareresources.org, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP, and Gusto. Follow on twitter and facebook.

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