As we near the end of the year and are looking at holiday schedules, it is important to make time to go over your dental insurance plans and make sure to get the most out of your dental benefits before the new year starts.It’s important to understand what benefits you have – and NOW is the best time to think about it so that you can take full advantage before the year ends.

Most insurance plans have little to no coverage until the patient has spent a certain amount out of pocket.  If you have already used your insurance benefits, you have made progress on this deductible.  This amount resets every year, though, so don’t waste the progress you’ve already made.   Depending on what work you’ve done this year, it may make sense to wait until January to do further procedures.  However, if you still have coverage available, sometimes it makes sense to do procedures in this calendar year.  The same can be true for HSA or FSA accounts where you may have tax-free dollars available to put toward medical expenses like dental care.

You should also take annual maximums into account. Once you reach your annual maximum (the maximum amount your insurance will pay for the year), you’ll have to pay for any further dental treatments out of pocket.  If you haven’t met your annual maximum for the current year yet and you know (or suspect) that you may need dental work, take care of it now so you have a clean slate going into the next year.

For example, if you have an annual maximum of $1,500, and you’ve used up $1,000 of it, and you need fillings that will cost $500, get them now. You’ll use your full annual maximum of $1,500 for this year and then you’ll have $1,500 available next year for any other work needed.

Another thing to be aware of is that what your dental plan covers isn’t permanent. Procedures and services that are covered this year could fall out of coverage next year. Your benefits can change year to year, so you may be better off using your plan now while you know exactly what it covers. Read the packet of information your employer gave you for open enrollment season. Carefully review the information about your insurance benefits, and see if any benefits are being cut or reduced in the next year.

If you don’t know what your plan covers, contact your insurance company or employer’s Human Resources department to find out exactly what they can do for you. It is also recommend that you ask for any information on policy changes when they happen.  If you’re still confused, use us as a resource.  We’d love to help you understand what is covered and what isn’t.

Furthermore, addressing medical and dental problems now rather than putting off treatment can prevent the problems from getting worse, which could save you even more money in the long run.  Failing to be pre-emptive with your health is the same as failing to be pre-emptive with your finances. Nothing good ever happens in that case.

Dental care is vital and necessary, but at times it can be expensive; you don’t want to be paying out of pocket for everything if you can avoid it. After all, that’s why you have dental insurance — to share and ease that financial burden.