Another year is reaching its end. Plan the parties and stock up on the confetti, but also remember that it’s time to review your health care coverage. If your dental insurance plan resets on January 1, schedule your needed dental work now to maximize your benefit. Here’s how to make the most of this year’s dental plan.
Check Your Coverage
The calendar year ends on December 31 for most dental coverage. Whether your coverage is through an employer-sponsored or individual plan, you generally can’t roll over unused benefits when the year is over. Now is a great time to discover how much dental coverage you have remaining before the year runs out.
Some dental plans reset at other times of the year, and some plans allow grace periods to use up any remaining benefit. Check your plan for yourself or call your plan’s toll-free number to learn the actual dental-benefits deadline.
While you’re researching your plan’s deadlines, investigate the treatments covered by your plan. What percentages of preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental work are paid for through your provider?
Another key question to ask is have you met your dental treatment deductible for the year? If you have, you’ll maximize your benefit by scheduling preventive and other covered treatments for every eligible person on your plan.
Don’t Forfeit FSA Funds
With some flexible spending accounts (FSAs), you can roll over a portion of the money contributed to your dental-care account. For example, some FSA plans allow a two-and-a-half-month grace period, while some allow rollover of up to $500 of the funds.
However, your paycheck is being reduced every week to keep your FSA account flush. Don’t throw away any of that hard-earned money.
FSA plans cover most treatments intended to keep the teeth and gums healthy. FSA plans also cover some dental supplies.
According to the IRS, covered dental supplies are those related to:
- Dental fillings
- Other dental ailments
Tooth-whitening and other cosmetic dental supplies may not be covered by your plan. However, if someone on your plan has braces or another covered dental appliance, you may be able to use end-of-year funds to purchase dental care items related to their treatment.
Go over your FSA policy with a fine-tooth comb to learn which dental services and supplies can be paid for with the account funds. Each dental plan is unique, so learn how to maximize yours before you forfeit your own pre-tax pay at year’s end.
Schedule Preventive Treatments
Preventive care is often 100 percent covered by dental plans. If you haven’t had your teeth cleaned for a while, call your dentist and schedule a teeth-cleaning session before the year’s end.
According to the IRS, preventive dental treatments include:
- Teeth cleaning
- Sealant application
- Fluoride treatment
Check your family’s records to ensure each covered person has received preventive dental care this year. When you have everyone’s teeth cleaned and sealed at the end of the year, you maximize your dental benefit and enjoy healthier teeth at the start of the new year.
Spread Out Extensive Treatment
Has your dentist advised you to undergo extensive treatment to save your teeth or alleviate gum disease? Do you need a root canal now and a crown in a few months?
Some dental treatments take months or more to complete. Your teeth or gums may need to heal from one procedure before the next is scheduled. One advantage of extended treatments is your opportunity to spread out the out-of-pocket expenses.
Schedule the first part of your extensive dental treatment before the year ends. You start your treatment early and use up the remainder of your benefits. Even if your total treatment will use up most or all of next year’s dental benefit, you save some of the treatment cost by splitting the work over two calendar years.
Ask Your Dentist About Next Year’s Plans
Start maximizing next year’s dental benefit by discussing your dental future with your dentist. If your dentist anticipates that you’ll need more extensive treatments in the coming year, work with the dental office to determine which procedures are covered by your policy.
Over the coming year, the dental office can help you schedule covered treatments and procedures to spread out your co-pay and other out-of-pocket expenses. If other family members need treatment, your dental office can add up the projected total fees to determine if you’ll go over your yearly maximum benefit amount.
Be proactive in using your dental benefits each year. You may not be able to have all of your desired dental work performed before the year ends. However, knowing your maximum benefit amount can guide your dentist and you toward dental solutions that are effective and within your budget.
Schedule your end-of-year dental procedures by contacting Valley Oak Dental Group today. We work with your insurance company and you to provide you with the best dental care in Manteca, California, and the surrounding region.