Use it or lose it: tips for using your dental insurance
When the benefits of dental insurance are discussed, the cliche phrase “use it or lose it” really applies. Most dental insurances allow so many dollars per calendar year, and you lose the dollars that are not used. In addition, the same philosophy applies to flexible spending or health savings accounts, which force you to lose the remaining money you have paid. Therefore, it is in your best interest to use these benefits each year before they expire and your money is lost.
Now that the end of the year is fast approaching and there are only a few months left to maximize your dental insurance benefits, I thought some tips to help educate patients would be valuable.
Before scheduling an appointment with the dentist, call your insurance provider to find out the exact amount of your unspent dental benefits. Also, ask them what is covered by their policy. In general, preventive procedures such as cleanings, x-rays and dental exams are covered, while cosmetic procedures, such as whitening and veneers, are not. Although most dentists have staff members who verify this for you, it is always good to enter the office knowing what your out-of-pocket expenses are.
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When you call your dentist’s office, be sure to schedule not only for yourself but also for eligible family members. However, do not forget that many dental offices may be seeing an influx of patients at this time, and the sooner you call, the more likely your dentist can schedule appointments for their families.
Sometimes it is possible and beneficial to complete the dental treatment in phases. This works well at the end of the year and at the beginning of next year. Depending on your individual needs, careful planning to maximize your remaining benefits for 2013, while completing the remainder of your treatment in early 2014 may provide you with more reimbursement than waiting for all your treatment next year. However, it is important to keep in mind that when the insurance is renewed, there may be changes in coverage, including changes in the covered procedures and co-payments.
Saving money should not be your only motivation when you visit the dentist. Routine dental visits can detect early problems such as gum disease and oral cancer. In addition, it is important to remember that even a small cavity that is not treated can become a bigger and more expensive dental problem in the future.
Be sure to use your dental insurance benefits before losing them!