Going to the dentist isn't any fun, but it is one of those things that just has to be done. For years, I fought the process and didn't go for my regular cleanings and in the end, it sure didn't pay to do so. I ended up spending ten times as much time in the chair and a boat-load of money in dental repairs. If you don't like going to the dentist, you can make it easier on yourself. This blog will show you a few tips that can help you improve the experience and get through the treatment without as much discomfort.
It's that time of year again: in between eating turkey and shopping for holiday gifts, it might occur to you that your dental insurance benefits are scheduled to reset on January 1. If you have dental work that needs to be done, this can conjure up feelings of dread and worry: have you maximized your dental benefits in order to minimize your out-of-pocket costs both this year and next year? The administrative staff at your dental office will be able to give you specific advice based on your individual circumstances, but in the meantime, here are a list of considerations to keep in mind.
Know Your Maximum Benefit Allowance
Most dental insurance plans come with a yearly maximum amount of benefits paid. Common maximum amounts are $1,000 and $1,500 per year. Understand that this is the maximum amount actually paid by the insurance company; it does not count your co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles, since those are paid by you. It's also important to realize that with some plans, preventative care (cleanings and periodic examinations) is factored into the maximum, and with other plans, they are not.
Look on your latest Explanation of Benefits (EOB) or call your insurance company to find out whether you have benefits left for this year. If you have seen only your family dentist (and not any dental specialists), you could call the front desk to find out how much the insurance has paid, instead of calling your insurance company. If you have benefits left and you have some dental work that needs to be done, it might be wise to make an appointment to have it done before the year ends.
Know If You Met Your Deductible
Another factor to consider is whether you met your deductible for the year. Some common deductible amounts are $50 and $100, but they can be higher in some cases, and some plans have no deductible at all! Some plans require you to pay the deductible for preventative services, while others don't. The reason it matters at the end of the year is because if you have had only cleanings and exams done, you might not have paid your deductible for 2015. The best way to find out is to call your insurance company and ask.
What does this mean? If you have a filling, root canal, or other restorative or major dental procedure done between now and December 31, you will need to pay that deductible. If you then have more work done after January 1, you'll need to pay it again in 2016. If you have a lot of dental work on your treatment plan, then paying the deductible this year might be worth it, since you'll also be using your 2015 maximum and won't be cutting into your 2016 maximum yet. If you rarely need fillings or other treatment, however, or if you have a very high yearly maximum, it might be more prudent to just wait until after the new year and pay the deductible once.
Dental Discount Plans and Savings Accounts
Many people do not have traditional dental insurance, but instead rely on dental discount plans or health savings accounts that allow for dental work to be included. In this case, it might be wise to get your upcoming dental work done in 2015, if possible. This is because you do not have a maximum benefit on a discount plan; you simply pay a lower amount for all procedures until the plan runs out. With a health savings account, some dental expenses might be able to be claimed, but you need to have them completed before the end of the year.
Dental insurance can be confusing, but a call to your insurance company can address your questions and concerns. Alternately, you can ask the office staff at your dental office or click this link to look into these questions for you. They often have the experience with many different companies and can either answer your questions or point you in the right direction to find the answers.