Don’t Let Benefits Run Out

November 16, 2020
Avatar for Raul GarciaRaul Garcia
Benefits Calendar

The end of 2020 is coming up quickly, and like many people, you may be very excited about that! There’s no doubt that it’s been one heck of a year, but while you’re making plans for 2021 to be the best year yet (yes, please!), don’t forget about a few things you need to do before 2020 ends. One thing you should definitely resolve to do before the clock strikes midnight on December 31 is using your dental benefits up before losing them! 

Using Dental Benefits Before the End of the Year

We know you’re busy. The end of the year is filled with plans for the holidays, shopping and gatherings (modified, of course, due to COVID-19). But we can’t stress it enough: If you want to use your dental benefits before the end of the year, call us now. Don’t hesitate; schedule your appointments now before the schedule fills up and you miss out on dental care that could have been covered if you met your dental insurance deductible. 

Most dental insurance companies start their benefit year over on January 1, which means the countdown has already begun to get your last-minute dental work done. 

Unfortunately, not everyone takes advantage of their benefits. The National Association of Dental Plans estimates only 2.8 percent of individuals with PPO dental plans max out their coverage each year. This means that if you’re not maxing out your insurance benefits or flexible spending account (FSA) contributions, you’re wasting thousands of dollars’ worth of benefits each year. 

If you’ve already met your deductible for 2020, it only makes sense to get your treatments done before your insurance company’s benefit cycle renews. 

Think of it this way: If you don’t use your benefits, you’re throwing away part of your paycheck. You’ve paid for your benefits through a monthly premium that secures future dental care at a reduced (or free!) cost when you meet your deductible.

Most dental plans spell out that once your deductible is met, they’ll pay a maximum amount toward preventative dental treatments or restorative dental services. For example, if you’ve already completed your plan’s deductible and your plan’s dental benefit is $1,500, you need to use that $1,500 before the year ends and you have to meet a new deductible for 2021. 

The same goes if you have an FSA. FSAs allow you to deposit untaxed money from your paycheck into a special account to put toward medical expenses that you’d otherwise have to pay out of pocket. While this sounds pretty cool, keep in mind that most FSA plans make you use the money in your FSA account before the end of your benefit year (which typically ends on December 31) or lose those funds.

For example, if your dental insurance would cover a dental restoration or other treatment at 80 percent, you could use your FSA to pay for the remaining 20 percent balance and not pay extra out of pocket. 

We recommend that you don’t wait until December to schedule your appointment to maximize your benefits. In most years, November and December are busy with appointments for those who want to get all their dental services done before their benefit calendar year ends. It’s also a time when parents schedule appointments for their kids while they are out of school for the holidays. So we recommend that you plan and schedule early. This is especially true if you are overdue for a cleaning and checkup, or you know you’re already in the middle of a treatment plan. 

Scheduling now also helps you save money if your insurance benefits change in the new year, too.

In some cases, splitting up your appointments between benefit years can help you. For example, if you split treatments up between two years, you can max out your annual dental benefits quickly to your advantage and lessen your out-of-pocket costs. 

What Types of Dental Services Should You Consider Before Year-End?

The best way to answer this is to look at your dental insurance plan or call your insurance provider to determine what items your plan covers or doesn’t cover. 

We recommend that, if your plan covers it, you schedule a dental checkup if you’re due or overdue. Some other treatments to think about include dental restorations, such as bridges, fillings or crowns. You can also consider cosmetic dental treatments such as teeth whitening or porcelain veneers if your dental benefits or FSA can be used for these items. 

As we’ve said, don’t delay. End-of-year appointments fill up very quickly, so call now to schedule your appointment. 

Plan Ahead for Dental Expenses in 2021

While you’re making your year-end appointments for 2020, we also recommend planning for 2021. Here are five things to remember when looking ahead to 2021:

1. Determine Maximum Dental Benefit

Your annual maximum benefit is how much your insurance provider will pay toward your dental care in one benefit year. Many plans are based on a calendar year (January through December), but some are based on a contract year (a different 12-month period determined by your employer and your insurance provider). 

If you have planned dental work that will exceed your annual maximum benefit, you will be responsible for covering the rest out of your pocket. 

2. Know When You Have Met Your Deductible

A deductible is the specific dollar amount you will have to pay before your dental insurance provider kicks in its contribution toward your dental care. Some providers do not count cleanings and routine checkups toward your deductible because they generally cover preventative care. 

Once you’ve met your deductible, we recommend scheduling your extra visits so you can save money.

3. Use Your FSA for Dental Expenses

As we mentioned above, a flexible spending account is a special account in which you contribute pre-tax income to pay for medical and dental needs. Check with your employer to see if they offer FSAs. Click here to learn more about the rules around flexible spending accounts.

4. Think About Preventative Care

Your dental plan is likely focused on preventative care, and most cover regular exams. These exams include a professional cleaning of the teeth, an oral cancer screening, and a general exam to see how healthy your teeth, gums and other mouth structures are. We recommend that you get a checkup at least twice a year, although some individuals may require more frequent visits for specific issues. 

5. Coordinate Dental Care

Have you missed an appointment? Get back on track with us! If you’re up to date on your care, awesome! Either way, it’s essential to maintain your oral health and use your dental benefits to the fullest extent.

We’re here to help you! Call us today to make your 2020 end-of-year appointment or to begin planning for 2021.

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