With only a few weeks left in the year, now is the best time to take a look at your dental insurance plan to check if you have any unused benefits left before the year comes to an end. We have gathered the most helpful tips and tricks for you to take full advantage of your plan before the end of the year.
Know your dental plan’s benefit period.
Before looking at any of your remaining benefits, you should first check when your dental insurance plan’s coverage period ends. Most dental plans have a one-year benefit period. While many providers follow the calendar year, don’t automatically assume that your plan goes into effect at the beginning of the year and ends on December 31. If you want to get the most out of your dental insurance plan and benefits, find out the exact time frame for your coverage and when your benefit period ends, so you can plan your dental care accordingly.
Use your annual benefits to the max.
Dental plans are usually focused on preventative care, many plans completely cover regular exams and teeth cleanings. Patients often forget about their preventative benefits and let them go unused, but regular checkups and teeth cleanings can greatly benefit your oral health and help you save money in the long run.
That’s why it is important that you check your dental insurance plan’s annual benefits. Naturally, every dental insurance is different, and each plan offers certain services that are completely covered. Make sure you thoroughly look at your plan details, so you can take full advantage of all of your benefits.
Benefits usually expire at the end of each coverage period. If your plan year ends on December 31, you still have a few weeks left to schedule an appointment.
Check your deductible and make the most out of it.
Your deductible is the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket during each plan year before your dental insurance starts covering a certain amount of the cost for your dental care.
If you have already met your deductible for the year, or if you are close to it, now might be a good idea to consider any of the more-costly dental work you have been putting off. This will lower your out-of-pocket cost for dental procedures before your deductible starts again in the new year.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Dental Insurance Benefits
To see how much you have paid toward your deductible already, you can check your insurance statements, log into your insurance account online or call your dental insurance provider. Your dentist can also often give you an estimate on your out-of-pocket cost and help you find out if you have met your deductible already.
Know your plan’s annual maximum and plan accordingly.
Most dental insurances come with an annual maximum, the maximum amount your insurance will pay for your dental care in a year. The annual limit depends on your specific plan, but yearly benefits are usually capped at $1,000 to $3000, according to the American Dental Association. Once you go over this maximum amount, your insurance will no longer cover any additional cost. To get the most out of your dental insurance before the year ends, double-check your plan’s limit and figure out how much you have left before you hit the maximum. Planning your dental procedures accordingly can save you a lot of money.
If you still have some wiggle room left, now is the best time to schedule an appointment for any outstanding dental work. Take advantage of any unused benefits before the end of the year. It is difficult to forecast a dental emergency or an unplanned expensive procedure that could quickly use up your plan’s annual maximum next year.
Conversely, if you are close to or have met your limit for the year already, but you still have dental work that needs to be done, consider getting part of the work done this year and finish it up next year when your annual maximum is reset to zero.
Don’t forget the money in your flexible-spending account.
If you have a health plan through your employer, you may have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) with money that you or your employer contributed to pay for certain out-of-pocket health care costs.
FSA funds are usually good for the duration of your benefit period. If you haven’t used the money by the time your plan year ends, the funds could expire. In some cases, depending on your plan, your employer can grant you a grace period of up to 2.5 months to spend the money. Either way, if you have money left in your FSA, don’t let it go to waste. You can spend it on copayments, deductibles, medications or certain out-of-pocket costs for dental work.
There is another reason why you shouldn’t let your FSA funds expire. FSAs are not only beneficial for having funds readily available to pay for medical expenses, but they also help you save money since you don’t have to pay any taxes on the funds you have in the account.
Just make sure that you don’t confuse your FSA with your HSA, your health savings account. While the funds in your FSA have a shelf life, the money you have saved in your HSA will not expire, even if you change employers.
Understand your plan and what is changing next year.
As you plan your remaining dental procedures for the year and look at your plan, your deductible, copays and possible out-of-pocket costs, you should also take a look at your dental insurance for the upcoming year. Maybe you are switching plans, or maybe your insurance has made changes to your current plan.
If the changes are severe, like a higher deductible for example, it might make sense to schedule your dental appointments still during the current benefit period before the new plan goes into effect. If you are lucky and you are getting better benefits for the new year, you might want to wait with your dental work until your new plan starts.
Whatever might be your case, inform yourself thoroughly. Make sure you understand what benefits you still have left for your remaining plan year and what will be changing with your dental insurance plan in the new year. It will not just benefit your health, but it will save you money in the long run.
Let Moore & Pascarella Help You Maximize Your Dental Insurance Benefits.
At Moore & Pascarella, we don’t just want to provide you with the best care and a wide variety of dental services, we also want to make sure that you are getting the most out of your dental insurance plan. That’s why we accept a variety of different providers and plans. Below, we’ve linked to the websites of the dental insurance providers we accept. Just follow the link to your provider’s website where you can register for an account to review everything related to your dental plan, like your benefits, deductible, coverage period and claims.
- Blue Shield of California
- Delta Dental
- Lincoln Financial
- United Healthcare
- United Concordia
Call us today, so we can set up your appointments before the year comes to an end and your benefits expire.