Dental health can be something many of us put off, but did you know that making teeth cleaning a priority before the end of the year could actually save you money? Whether it is because you have a dental plan that you don’t want to lose unused benefits on or you just want to really shine for holiday gatherings, taking care of teeth cleanings before the end of the year can be advantageous in a number of different ways. Make teeth cleaning a priority before the end of the year to make the most of your dental benefits including your plan, deductible, and insurance maximums.
Many Americans may not realize that if they are not strategic, access to dental benefits could end up costing them money they never even spent. If you’re wondering how that could be possible, here are three words for you…no roll over.
Here is how it works. When an individual purchases a dental plan either through an employer or elsewhere, both the individual and the employer together are essentially paying an upfront premium. These plans typically run from January 1st to December 31st following a calendar year, although some plans will run a full year with different starting and ending dates.
The hitch is that if the individual does not use the money paid forward in the premium during the plan year, it is essentially wasted as those funds do not roll over from year to year. For example, if you paid a premium of $1,000 and only use $750 of that during the year, then $250 is not being used and will not roll over to the next plan year.
Why let something you’ve already paid for go unused? Find out how much is left on your dental benefits and use them before the end of the year to take care of routine cleaning and/or necessary dental work.
Annual Dental Plans and Deductibles
Dental plans generally last for one year and are renewed on an annual basis. Deductibles are part of most insurance plans and refer to the amount of money a patient is forced to pay out of pocket before a plan begins compensating for services. Deductibles also last for a year at a time and are renewed on an annual basis.
Since dental plans and deductibles can be modified every year when they are renewed or changed, this could result in a higher premium or deductible for dental patients. Keeping this in mind, it is generally a good idea for patients to use their current benefits now in the event that their next plan’s coverage is not as strong or that the deductible is considerably higher.
Dental Insurance Maximums
Every dental plan has an insurance maximum, and this is the maximum amount of money insurance will pay during a plan year. While this cap can vary from provider to provider, many plans average an insurance maximum of $1,000 per plan year.
As you near the middle or end of the year, consider how much has already been paid toward the insurance maximum. If you are unsure if you have met your maximum, consider calling your dentist or insurance carrier for an accurate assessment.
If there are still dollars left before the insurance maximum is met, speak with your dentist about any upcoming cleanings or procedures you will need. Schedule them before the end of the year while you can still take advantage of that insurance maximum not yet being met.
Flexible Spending Accounts
Flexible spending accounts work similar to that of a debit card by utilizing dollars for a plan set up through an employer that can assist with paying for dental care with pre-tax dollars. FSAs are growing in popularity with some companies, but it is important to note that generally FSAs pay only for services that are related to dental health and often exclude cosmetic-related procedures.
FSA plans may vary in starting and ending dates, but most require an individual to use the money in the FSA account before the end of the year. While some plans do offer a short extension past the one-year mark, any FSA dollars not used by that time still expire and usually do not roll over to the next year.
It is best to be mindful of how much money an individual puts in an FSA up front. To better estimate the amount of funds an individual needs, it can be a good idea for them to contact their FSA to see what things are typically covered.
As with many things, dental expenses can go up from year to year. Whether it is the cost of a dentist’s office rent, the price of tools, or other related expenses affected by the industry or the economy, a hike in those costs could end up costing you a few more dollars than it did the year before.
Before a new year arrives and potential dental cost hikes could be in your future, take care of regular teeth cleanings and other necessary procedures before the end of the year.
Making teeth cleaning a priority before the end of the year can save you money as it allows the dentist to examine your teeth and gums and see if any procedures or treatments are necessary. Take care to make a cleaning appointment for late summer or early fall so that plenty of time remains to take care of your dental health before the end of the year.
Can I lose money on my dental plan?
If you have paid a certain amount up front and do not use those funds before the end of the plan year, that money will expire and not roll over.
Do I have to meet a deductible before my insurance will pay on dental work?
This is specific to the exact plan an individual has, but it is not uncommon.
Can deductibles change from year to year?
Deductible amounts can change when a new plan is established.
If I haven’t met my insurance maximum will my plan pay on dental procedures?
While plans vary, if you have not met your insurance maximum most plans will still pay on some types of dental procedures.
What is an FSA?
An FSA is a flexible spending account that an individual puts funds in at the beginning of the year.