While I was home sick yesterday the plumber finished his second day of working to clear out our blocked sewer pipe. Apparently there is no accurate plumbing diagram for our house available (it was build about 40 years ago, and had some additions done before we bought it four years ago) so he had a few false starts digging around to find the sewer pipe. He said he'd send the bill, so I've no idea how much it will end up costing. I did opt for him just clearing out the blockage (tree roots) and coming back when/if needed again in a few years - the alternative was to reroute part of the existing sewer line outside of our house (for some reason it runs underneath our house), but this would cost around $1,500 and wouldn't guarantee we wouldn't get some more roots blocking a different section of the existing pipework anyhow.
I was back at work today and had an appointment with the dentist at lunchtime to repair a tooth that lost a large chunk out of it last week. The same tooth had root canal done a few years ago (around $1,000), and later on a repair job to fix a chunk of tooth that broke off the back of the tooth a short while later. This time a different part of the same tooth had broken off the front. The session cost $300 - $60 for two x-rays (my other teeth look fine, except for another molar on the other side that also had root canal done a few years back), cleaning, descaling, and fluoride treatment. Plus the actual repair job which "only" cost $90. Unfortunately the dentist recommended getting a crown done for the tooth asap, as it is badly cracked and won't last very much longer left as it is - this means the $90 repair job is only going to be used for a couple of weeks. I think she said the exact same thing two years ago when she made the last repair, so decided that it's time to "bite the bullet" and get the crown done. I've booked in for the two sessions required for the crown - it will cost around $1,400 for one crown! They have a nice, realistic tooth-like appearance, but at that price I almost expect solid gold like the "good old days".
We only have basic private hospital cover, with no dental cover, so this is all "out of pocket". I will get a 30% tax rebate for the amount of total "out of pocket" family medical expenses this tax year for any amounts above $1,200 or thereabouts. I may look into the cost of adding dental cover to our health plan, as the other molar that had root canal a few years ago apparently will also need a crown eventually. Plus DS1 has started getting loosing his baby teeth and has an overbite - so he may need braces or something later on. And DW doesn't have the best teeth in the world either...
I'll have to do a cost-benefit analysis based on the expected annual cost of the dental cover vs. likely dental work. I won't pay for dental insurance just on the off chance of needing some major work, as any emergency work (eg. from a car accident) would be covered by medicare in the public hospital system, and I've no interest in any "cosmetic" dental work that might be covered.