Don't Waste Your Remaining Dental Benefits

While scheduling one last visit to see your family dentist in Newberg may not be at the top of your holiday schedule, there’s a very good reason why you should consider finding the time – you could be wasting a lot of money.

The last few weeks of the year are full of activities that range from holiday parties to school recitals to family gatherings. With such a full and hectic schedule, it’s easy to overlook whether you’ve used all of the dental and health care benefits you’re entitled to through the insurance plan you pay plenty for throughout the year.

Many of our patients only think about their insurance benefits when looking to have their treatments covered. However, you could be wasting a lot of money by not reviewing your insurance usage before the holidays come to a conclusion.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as we countdown towards 2017.

Deductibles

As you approach the end of 2016, consider how close you are to the your deductible as it will reset at the beginning of 2017. If you have already met your deductible, you have every incentive to take full advantage of any and all health care needs before January 1 that your plan allows. This could include cosmetic dental treatments like teeth whitening, dental crowns, implants, veneers or other types of advanced care.

Annual Maximums

The majority of dental plans carry a maximum coverage amount that places a hard cap on what your insurance will cover. If Dr. McLeod discussed with you a need for crowns, root canals, or fillings, and you have the available funds left in your plan, make a point to get them taken care of this year before your benefits reset.

If you wait until the start of 2017 before getting the work you need done, you will most likely exhaust all of your available benefits before the first quarter is even over. If you require any follow-up work or additional care throughout the rest of the year, you’ll be on the hook to pay for that treatment out-of-pocket.

Additionally, putting off needed dental work usually just keeps you in pain for longer, and it also carries the risk of making the treatment you need more complicated and expensive.

Flexible Spending Account Balances

If your health plan works as a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), your account balance is funded with pre-tax dollars for the purpose of covering your health care costs. The use of pre-tax dollars allows you to save money on your taxes by actually reducing your taxable income.

However, the downside of an FSA is that you must use the benefits during the year. Benefits do not carry over, and you will lose any unused money in the FSA account at the end of the year. Make sure to look over any restrictions in your FSA to find out what types of treatment the money can be used for, and plan your expenses far enough in advance so you can have your treatment paid for before 2016 comes to an end.

Changes to Health Care Plans

Given the uncertainty 2017 promises for health insurance plans through the Affordable Care Act or Medicare, and just how much variance many plans offered through an employer can experience year-to-year, it’s not a stretch to say that the benefits you received 2016 won’t be the same as what you’ll receive in 2017.

Make sure not to leave any critical benefits unused in hopes that your plan will increase what will be covered going forward. If your current plan will only pay for 50 percent of a procedure you require, it’s unlikely that number will go up when your 2017 benefits are released. Waiting only makes it more likely the treatment you need becomes more expensive and more complicated to complete.

Finally, maybe the biggest reason of all to use your remaining health care benefits before the end of the year – especially if you’ve avoided seeking routine checkups and examinations – is that failing to receive pre-emptive medical care is never a good idea. Regular checkups and examinations play a vital role in protecting your long-term oral and overall health.

Just a little advice from your family dentist in Newberg, take care of yourself and use all of the dental and health care benefits you’re entitled to receive. That way you’ll start 2017 far healthier and happier.

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