As someone that is young, well insured, and generally fairly healthy, I don't tend to give much thought to medical costs. Even if something were to go wrong, my medical insurance has no deductible and covers just about everything except a co-pay ranging from $15 for routine medical visits to $50 for hospitalizations. I thought I was pretty safe. What I didn't think about as much was my dental insurance, which at $1,500/year of coverage each for dental and orthodontics with only a $50 deductible is also very good. Saturday at the dentist's office, I heard what every parent of teenagers dreads hearing - I need all 4 wisdom teeth removed and braces! It was even more of a surprise because I had braces for 4 years when I was a teenager.
I still have no idea how much the wisdom tooth surgery will cost (though I do know some of that will come out of my pocket), but the first estimate I got for the cost of the braces was $6,500. With the $1,500 that insurance will cover, that still leaves me at a whopping $5,000 that I have to pay out of pocket (or at least out of my pre-tax flex spending account). I'm doing the frugal (and best for your health!) thing and getting more estimates, but that first one gave me a bit of a reality check. I thought braces were maybe $3,000! Then again, I haven't had them in 8 or 9 years, so what do I know?
I know it could be a lot worse. People get stuck with paying tens of thousands of dollars for surgeries all the time, so in the grand scheme of things $6,000 (if I end up spending $1000 on the wisdom teeth) isn't that bad. It will pretty much wipe out my emergency fund, but I guess this is the type of thing that I have one for to begin with.