t’s that time of year again! Time to stuff the turkey, deck the halls, and make sure you use up all your dental benefits before they expire at the end of the calendar year!
Many people have dental benefits, either through their employer or through a flex spending plan. Still, one survey found that nearly 57% of people are not aware of their maximum dental benefits. Only 2.8% of people with PPO dental coverage reach or exceed their annual maximum. That means they are missing out on a lot of benefits.
Blackstone Family Dentistry wants to help you understand your dental benefits so you can get the most out of your coverage every year—starting now!
What are the common types of dental benefits?
The first step to getting the most out of your dental benefits plan is to understand your coverage.
A dental benefits plan covers the cost of some things in full. They are usually designed to help defray costs but not necessarily provide full dental coverage. There are several common types of dental benefits plans:
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) dental plans offer a list of dentists that accept your insurance and cover most or all of the cost of dental care. If you decide to visit an out-of-network dentist, your out-of-pocket costs will probably be higher.
- Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) plans provide a list of dentists that accept your insurance for a pre-set co-pay. However, with DHMO plans, you probably aren’t able to see out-of-network dentists.
- Discount or Referral Dental Plans offer you a discount on dental services from some dentists that accept the plan. This is not really dental insurance. It doesn’t cover any part of your costs; it just gives you a discounted price.
- Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) are savings accounts that allow you to put money toward medical expenses each year. This money is taken from your paycheck pre-tax. You can use the FSA money to pay for any dental treatments like cleanings, braces, dentures, and even co-pays, and other medical costs. Some FSA plans also allow you to pay for essentials like toothpaste, toothbrushes, and mouthwash with the money you put in the account.
A unique advantage to FSA accounts is that there is usually no maximum to the amount you can put in the account each year. So, you can save as much as you think you’ll need.
Most dental policies have a maximum annual coverage, meaning that they will cover all or most of the cost of dental care, up to a certain amount in a 12-month period. That means, if you choose not to take advantage of all the dental care you can, you’re leaving money on the table!
What do dental benefits plans usually cover?
Each dental benefit plan is unique. Generally, dental plans cover all or most of preventative dental care procedures, like two visits to the dentist each year for cleanings, x-rays, and check-ups. They often cover some of the cost of fillings, crowns, root canals, tooth extractions, and other preventative procedures that help keep your mouth healthy.
What are the deadlines to use your dental benefits?
Most dental benefits plans do not carry over to the new year. So, whatever benefits you haven’t used, expire on December 31 (some dental insurance plans run on a fiscal calendar so be sure to check the end date).
Some FSA spending accounts offer a grace period or allow you to carry some amount of money to the next year.
Why is it important to use your dental benefits?
Dental benefits plans are designed to give you access to preventative dental care so you can avoid more invasive and costly procedures. If you don’t take advantage of your dental coverage, not only are you leaving money and benefits unused, you might not be protecting your overall health.
Preventative dental care helps you avoid tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and other dental issues that often lead to more significant health concerns. Experts are now linking poor dental health to other problems like heart disease, cancer, and even diabetes.
If you are paying your dental premiums, you should take full advantage of your dental plan. If you have unused benefits, they will probably not carry over to the next year, so you should use all the benefits you can before they expire. Your deductible (the amount of money you must pay out of pocket) also restarts every year, so you may be able to save money by using all of your dental coverage each year.
Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is more than just maintaining a beautiful smile, it’s an investment in your overall health. Blackstone Family Dentistry can help you take full advantage of your dental benefits each year. Our friendly staff can help you determine what benefits you have and how to use as much of your dental benefits as possible.