The Year End Rush: Use Your Dental Benefits Before You Lose Them

Get in early! Schedule your appointments now before the schedule fills up!

It’s the end of the year and your family is probably busy, busy, busy. However, it is a good time to evaluate your dental health before you go into the holidays. Most dental insurance companies reset their “benefit year” starting on January 1st. This means you have until the end of December to get in any last-minute dental work.

The National Association of Dental Plans estimates only 2.8% of patients with PPO dental plans maxed out their dental coverage. Depending on your plan’s limits and coverage levels or your FSA contributions, you could be wasting thousands of dollars. Furthermore, if your plan has a deductible and you’ve already met it for 2019, it makes sense to get all the treatment you can before your benefit cycle renews.

  • Use it or lose It: If your dental coverage is part of a benefits package paid for by your employer, it’s like throwing away part of your paycheck! When you have dental insurance, you pay a monthly premium that entitles you to dental care at a free or reduced cost, once your deductible is met. These dental plans specify a maximum amount that insurance providers will pay toward preventative and/or restorative dental services after the deductible’s been reached—often that figure is between $1,000 – $2,000. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve already paid your plan’s deductible and your dental benefit is $1,500. If you don’t use that amount before the end of the calendar year, you’ll lose it and be required to meet a new dental deductible in 2020.
  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA): If you participated in an FSA through your employer this year, you were able to deposit untaxed money into your FSA account to use toward out-of-pocket medical expenses. However, most FSA plans require you to use the money in your FSA account by the end of the year or lose it. Suppose your dental insurance covers a root canal at 80%, you could use your FSA to pay for the remaining 20% and not incur any out-of-pocket expense.
  • Plan Ahead: Don’t wait until mid-December to schedule an appointment. Traditionally, November and December are packed with patient appointments, as many people like to use all their dental benefits before the calendar year ends. If you need dental work—and want to schedule it for this year —we encourage you to make your appointment today. By planning ahead and scheduling early, you can be on the books before the end-of-year rush. A quick call to your dentist’s office will let you know if you have any outstanding treatment or if you are overdue for a cleaning or exam.
  • Future price increases: Scheduling sooner rather than later could also save your pocketbook before any fee increases take place in the new year. Dental offices have some of the highest overhead expenses of any industry, and most of them happen behind the scenes. Liability insurance, the cost of state-of-the-art equipment to enhance the patient experience, training for that equipment, and single-use items like gloves and sterilization pouches continue to increase. Many offices are forced to raise their fees simply to keep up with the rising cost of doing business.
  • Splitting treatment between two years can also help you get the treatment you need. Many treatments can max out your annual dental benefits quickly. Some offices will let you schedule your root canal in December and the permanent crown in January. This repairs your tooth before there is any further damage, reduces your out-of-pocket cost, and uses up any remaining benefits.

What Types of Services Should I Spend My Dental Benefits on Before Year-End?

  • The answer to that question depends on your specific insurance coverage. We recommend that you view your plan to see what’s covered—or contact your insurance provider—before selecting the dental service you’d like to schedule.
  • Assuming your plan coverage permits it, we’d encourage you to come in for a dental checkup if you’re due, or consider having restorative work done like bridges, fillings, or crowns. You may even want to consider teeth whitening if the money in your FSA or dental benefits can be applied toward it.

However, we’d encourage you not to delay. We do tend to fill up appointments quickly at this time of year so we recommend you call now or schedule your appointment online today by clicking here. By scheduling your appointments now, you can catch up on any outstanding treatment and maximize your 2019 dental benefits. You can start 2020 with a fresh, healthy smile!

We look forward to seeing you!