Your family depends on dental insurance. It helps control costs and makes it possible for your family to afford the dental care you need.
While dental insurance makes your family’s dental needs manageable and affordable, you likely pay for it — either through your employer or out of pocket through the Health Insurance Marketplace set up by the Affordable Care Act.
But here’s the surprising thing — most families don’t use it, or at least use it to its maximum benefit.
In fact, only 2.8% of people with PPO dental plans reached or exceeded their plan’s annual maximum, according to the National Association of Dental Plans.
Families essentially pay for a service that gets wasted. And that’s a crying shame.
Here’s what you need to know to get the maximum benefits out of your dental plan — and improve your family’s dental health care in the process.
Plan Your Dental Care for the Year
Your insurance plan covers a certain amount of services each year — a yearly out-of-pocket maximum, usually between $1,000 to $2,000 per year. Typically, the higher the monthly premium, the higher the yearly maximum. After that, it’s capped and the cost of any remaining dental care is on you.
At the beginning of the year, sit down with your dentist, and discuss your dental needs. What services are covered and how much? What’s a priority? What can wait until next year? This is a conversation we like to have early on with our patients at our Middleburg dental office. We’ll map out your care so we can optimize coverage for the year and save you money.
The Clock Is Ticking on Dental Insurance
You only have until the end of the year to use your dental coverage for the year — most plans don’t rollover. That’s why it’s so important to get in any services that insurance still covers done before the end of December. (By far, our busiest time is right before Christmas.) It may be tempting to put off services until after the holidays to help your holiday budget, but the coverage will go to waste.
Flexible Spending Accounts & Dental Insurance
A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an account you set up through your employer. You decide how much money to put into the account, which is deducted from your paycheck. FSAs can cover cleanings, braces, co-pays, and other dental care. These accounts typically work like a debit card, which you use to pay for medical and dental expenses.
Most people must use their FSA by December 31, though some accounts allow grace periods of up to 2 ½ months or allow a $500 carryover into the following year. It’s important to plan your dental and health care carefully so you don’t put in more money than you will spend in that given year.
Cleanings & Checkups Are Free. Use Them.
For preventative visits like dental cleanings and checkups, most plans typically pay 100% or close to it. This makes sense because cleanings will keep your teeth healthier and identify problems earlier. This minimizes dental costs over time. So it’s in your family’s – and even your insurance company’s – best interest to follow through on preventative care.
Talk to your dentist about how to make the most of your insurance benefits. You are paying for it after all. Why not use it to its fullest potential? Your family’s smiles will thank you later.