When discussing dental insurance benefits, the cliche phrase “use it or lose it” truly applies. Most dental insurances allow so many dollars per calendar year, and any dollars that are not utilized are lost. Additionally, the same philosophy applies to Flexible Spending or Health Saving Accounts, which force you to forfeit any left over money that you have paid for. Therefore, it is in your best interest to use these benefits each year before they expire and your money is lost.
Now that the end of the year is quickly approaching and there are only a few short months left to maximize your dental insurance benefits, I thought some tips to help educate patients would be valuable.
Before scheduling a dental appointment, call your insurance provider to find out the exact amount of your unspent dental benefits. Additionally, ask them what is covered with your policy. Typically, preventative procedures like cleanings, x-rays, and dental exams are covered, while cosmetic procedures, like whitening and veneers, are not. Although, most dentists have staff members who check this for you, it is always nice walking into the office knowing what your out-of-pocket expenses may be.
When calling your dentist’s office, be sure to not only schedule for yourself but also for eligible family members. However, don’t forget that many dental offices may be seeing an influx of patients at this time, and the sooner you call, the more likely your dentist will be able to schedule your families’ appointments.
Sometimes it is possible and beneficial to complete dental treatment in phases. This works nicely at the end of the year and the beginning of the next year. Depending on your individual needs, careful planning to maximize your benefits remaining for 2013, while completing the remainder of your treatment in early 2014 can provide you with more reimbursement than waiting to do it all the treatment next year. But, it is important to keep in mind that when insurance renews, there may be coverage changes, which includes changes in procedures covered and co=pays.
Saving money shouldn’t be your only motivation when visiting the dentist. Routine dental visits can detect early problems like gum disease and oral cancers. In addition it is important to remember that even a small cavity left untreated can become a bigger, more expensive dental problem in the future.
Be sure to use your dental insurance benefits before you lose them!