Throughout the year, you set aside a little bit of each hard-earned paycheck to cover dental insurance premiums. In exchange, you expect to get the things you need to maintain a healthy smile — dental cleanings, exams, and other care.
At least, that’s what you hope for. If you don’t use those dental benefits before December 31, chances are you’ll lose them.
In fact, the overwhelming majority of people with PPO dental plans end the year with money on the table. Fewer than 3 percent of plan participants reach or exceed their plan’s annual maximum, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. That’s money that insurance companies get to keep with no benefit to you at all!
The good news is this: There’s still time to take advantage of your dental benefits. The end of the year is a busy time at Lakeside Dentistry, but we care about you. We want to protect the investment you made in your oral health when you opted for dental insurance.
So give our Rochester, MN office a call at 507-316-6444 to schedule an appointment!
Dental Insurance 101
When you or your employer pay money upfront for dental insurance, you’re often paying for a maximum annual amount of money you get to spend on dental care — things like routine cleanings, checkups, and possibly partial coverage for more expensive procedures like root canal therapy or dental crowns.
But with most dental plans, if the year ends and you haven’t spent that maximum amount, the remaining benefits are lost. They don’t roll over, meaning you paid insurance premiums for care you didn’t receive!
The same December 31 deadline also holds true for many flexible spending accounts, or FSAs.
With some plans, an FSA is an account you set up with your employer. During the open enrollment period, you decide how much money from each paycheck you want to put in the account.
The money is deducted from your paycheck pre-tax, and the money in your FSA can be used for preventative dental care, as well as for treatments like braces or dentures that likely aren’t covered entirely by dental insurance.
Usually, the money you put into your FSA during the plan year must be used by December 31, although it’s important to note that some employers offer a grace period or allow some money to roll over from one year to the next.
Help! I’m Going To Lose My Dental Benefits!
If you’re like many Americans who didn’t realize that time is running out to use your benefits, it might be tempting to pick up the phone and frantically start calling every in-network dentist in town to see who can pencil you in for a cleaning.
But before you do anything, review your plan document or ask your employer for the details of your dental insurance. While most insurance companies have a benefits deadline of December 31, it’s possible that your plan ends at a different time during the year. If that’s the case, there’s no need for you to panic.
If upon reviewing your plan you learn that your benefits will indeed expire at the end of the year, give us a call. Our friendly front desk team can help you determine whether your insurance benefits can be used in our office. They can also help you schedule an appointment.
At Lakeside Dentistry, we want to make it as easy as possible to get high-quality dental care. That’s why we offer several different payment options, including:
- All major credit cards
- Care Credit
To save you some money, we also offer a 5 percent discount for dental services that are paid in full on the day of treatment!
Planning For Next Year
Just because benefits typically expire December 31 doesn’t mean dental insurance and FSAs are a bad idea.
It just means that in order to get the most out of your dental insurance, it’s important to understand your coverage and to plan your dental care carefully throughout the year.
Here are some ways you can do that:
- Think about your dental appointments early in the year. It’s a good idea to talk with your dentist in the summer or fall about your dental needs for the remainder of the year. This gives you plenty of time to schedule follow-up appointments or procedures that will help you make the most of your plan.
- When it comes to FSAs, carefully consider your dental needs for the coming year when determining how much to set aside from each paycheck. This will ensure that you’re not putting more money into your FSA than you will realistically use that year.
- Stay on top of preventative care. Routine exams and cleanings help prevent and catch tooth decay and gum disease early, so you will be unlikely to need costly curative treatments down the road. Your teeth and your wallet will thank you!
And when you’re considering preventative care in Rochester, MN, we hope you’ll choose Lakeside Dentistry! Our caring team goes above and beyond to ensure your oral health — and by extension, your overall health — is in great shape!