Before You Lose It: How to Maximize Your Dental Benefits

With each leaf that falls, we inch closer and closer to the end of the year, which means the holiday season is approaching—but that’s not the only reason to mark your calendar. It also means the deadline to use your dental insurance benefits is coming soon.

Whether you pay for dental insurance through a benefits plan offered by your employer, or through an FSA, the “benefit year” of most dental insurance companies ends on December 31, at which point any unused dollars will go to waste. To avoid leaving money on the table, it’s best to use your dental benefits before you lose them when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.

The National Association of Dental Plans has said that only 2.8% of people who hold PPO dental health plans actually touch or exceed their annual coverage amounts. Not using these benefits is like throwing away part of your paycheck, and who wants to do that?

The monthly premium that you pay each month for dental insurance provides you with coverage that allows you to visit the dentist for no additional or minimal cost once your deductible is met. Once you have paid your deductible for the year, your insurance benefits will kick in, and dental plans specify a maximum amount that insurance providers will pay toward preventative and/or restorative dental services.

If you participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and deposit money into your FSA account to use toward out-of-pocket medical expenses, those funds will also likely disappear if they aren’t used by the end of the year.

There are many ways to maximize your annual dental insurance benefits, starting with keeping up with your visits for preventative care. Most insurance plans will completely cover the cost of a preventative visit, like a cleaning, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of that.

Preventative visits are also the best way to keep your mouth as healthy as possible so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket for substantial dental work farther down the road.

Scheduling a preventative visit in the late summer or early fall gives you time to fit in any necessary follow-up appointments before the end of the year while you have the benefits available to you. For lots of folks, the fall and early winter are some of the busiest times of the year—the same goes for our dental office. Between school and activities starting and the holiday season, it can be hard to find appointment times that work and you might run the risk of not being able to come in until after the new year.

If you find yourself in need of dental care beyond a cleaning, like a root canal, we can work with your insurance provider to see what is covered so we can make a plan together. Sometimes a strategic and cost-saving approach can be to split necessary treatment between two benefit periods to avoid draining your dental benefits too quickly. If you can schedule that root canal in

December and your crown appointment for early the next year, you will reduce the out-of-pocket cost.

Another reason to schedule your appointments sooner rather than later is the potential for future price increases. Like many industries, dental offices experience high and increasing overhead expenses from year to year. The cost of the latest high-tech equipment, the training needed to use that equipment, and all of the sterilization supplies and other office materials is likely to increase as time goes on as a reflection of rising prices everywhere.

For these reasons and more, we recommend using your dental benefits before the end of the year to maximize the investment you’ve already made. If you’re due for an appointment before the close of the year, give us a call and we will get something on the books. We look forward to seeing you soon!