The end of the year is fast approaching, and that often means it’s time to get some unfinished business done before the new year. One thing many people don’t think about is their dental insurance. If you haven’t used your insurance lately, you may not be aware that dental benefits don’t carry over to the new year.
When it comes to your dental insurance, always keep in mind that most insurance plans operate on a calendar-year basis. In most cases, your dental benefits renew each January 1. However, this means that if you haven’t used your yearly coverage and gotten all the dental treatments that fall under your plan, you’re wasting money. In fact, studies from the National Association of Dental Plans show that less than 3% of patients with PPO dental plans max out their dental coverage.
Most insurance plans don’t carry unused benefits over to the next year, so if you don’t use them now, you lose them for good! Other than missing out on a golden opportunity to get the dental care you may have been putting off, neglecting your dental benefits can also cost you thousands of dollars.
Here’s how it works:
When you have dental insurance, you pay a monthly premium that entitles you to dental care for free, or at a reduced cost, once you meet your deductible. According to your dental plan, it specifies the maximum amount that your insurance provider pays toward your preventative or restorative dental services once you reach the deductible.
The deductible is typically between $1000 and $2000. Assuming you’ve already paid the deductible and your benefit is $1500 dollars, the insurance provider pays that much toward your dental services. However, if you fail to use it before the end of the year, you lose that benefit and will be required to get a new dental deductible in 2021.
Some employers also offer a flexible spending account (FSA) instead of or together with dental coverage to help offset the deductibles and coverage limits. Each year, you can deposit a specified amount into the FSA account to help pay for out-of-pocket expenses. For example, if your dental insurance covers 80% of a treatment (e.g. cosmetic work), you can use the money in the FSA to pay for the other 20% and avoid out-of-pocket expenses. However, like your benefits, most plans require you to use the money in the account before the end of the year or lose it.
Taking care of your outstanding dental needs early is also a good way to avoid any price increases in the following year. Dental offices have plenty of overhead, and many of the costs are incurred behind the scenes. The costs of liability insurance, specialized equipment, proper training for the equipment, and single-use items like gloves and needles continue to increase. As the costs go up, so do the costs of dental care. Scheduling your treatments now can go a long way toward helping you take some of the burdens off your shoulders before it gets heavier.
Now that you know that time is of the essence, it’s vital you move immediately, and the earlier, the better. One dental insurance fact to keep in mind is that slots for November and December tend to fill up quickly when patients realize that now’s the time to settle their dental work. Ideally, you should make an appointment with your dentist early, as early as today even. The sooner you can start, the easier it is to secure a slot and ensure you’re on the books before the end-of-year rush.
As we approach the end of the year, it may also help to have some tips to ensure you make the most of dental insurance benefits while you still have time. The clock’s ticking, so keep these tips in mind to help make the most of your dental insurance before the new year.
The ideal way to maximize your plan’s value is to see your dentist regularly. Dental appointments are also a good time to confirm if there are any treatments you need to keep your mouth healthy.
Dentists recommend getting a checkup twice a year. If you’ve had a checkup this year, now may also be a golden opportunity to schedule your second appointment for the year. Take note, some insurance companies fully cover up to 2 trips to the dentist a year for preventive care, so take advantage of that.
Double-check to see if your plan has free preventive coverage. Preventive care includes a wide range of services, including exams, cleanings, and x-rays. If it’s been a while since you saw the dentist, it’s possible you have some benefits just waiting to be used. Make an appointment now to help keep your teeth and gums healthy, and all at affordable rates. As a rule of thumb, the sooner you can spot threats the easier and less costly they are to treat.
Your insurance plan should provide coverage for your dentist whenever you need dental care, but it does pay to make sure you cover all the bases. Dental emergencies often strike at the least convenient moments, like after hours or when your dentist is on vacation. In those cases, it helps to have access to an alternate emergency clinic that accepts your plan. Ask your dentist or insurance provider to recommend an emergency dentist and check if they accept your insurance. Take note of your backup dentist’s contact details and enter them into your phone so you know who to call and what to do in case of an emergency.
Think about scheduling your treatments for times when you’ll be eligible for the most insurance coverage. For example, get the first part of your dental treatment in November or December, then get the other half early next year.
If you’ve been considering extensive treatment like implants or dentures, start your treatment now to use what remains of your benefits. Any costs incurred in 2021 may then be covered by the plan’s renewed benefits once you meet the deductible for the new year. Alternatively, if you’ve hit your maximum coverage cap, ask your dentist if you can put off further treatment until after your plan resets.
One great way to make the most of your coverage is by extending it to the rest of the family. This can be especially useful if you have kids since they may need specific oral treatments like Invisalign and in-depth teeth cleanings.
Sign up for family dental insurance to make sure the whole family is covered in case of any emergency. Securing a single plan for all family members is a great way to get your children the care they need without breaking the bank. It helps lower costs and is a no-fuss approach to maintaining the family’s oral health.
When you’re looking for a reliable dental clinic that puts you first, give Galloro Dental Group a call. We’re only too happy to verify your benefits, go over the treatments you need, and answer your questions. Call us now at (416) 483-9600 (Summerhill) or (416) 907-5888 (Don Mills) to get your dental needs taken care of before it’s too late.