Teeth or Hair?
The end of the year is usually an extra busy time. Family, social, school, and work obligations can keep one constantly running, without the time to consider important things – such as if you are wasting important health care and dental plan benefits that you have worked so hard to fund.
For most of us, insurance and dental concerns are not high or even present on our holiday to-do lists. Considering how important oral health is for overall health, not to mention the growing interest in the impact of beautiful teeth on a person's overall appearance, it seems surprising that Americans spend more on hair care than on dental care. That said, why would you throw away money? Many Americans are fortunate to have dental insurance. Some of these plans are self-funded, but many are paid at least in part by employers as part of overall benefit programs. The dollars and benefits put aside do not carry over from one year to the next. By not reviewing your insurance usage before the end of the year, you can potentially be throwing away thousands of dollars in free money.
- Deductibles – As we approach the end of the year, consider how close you are to your deductible since they reset at the end of each year. What is a deductible? A deductible is an amount that you, the patient, is responsible for before the insurance will pay for certain benefits. If you have already met your annual deductible, you have even more incentive to take full advantage of all health care needs before the deductible resets on January 1. 2020.
- Annual Maximums – Most dental plans, unlike medical plans, have an annual maximum coverage amount; this is the total dollar amount that your insurance will pay on your behalf. Unfortunately, despite yearly premium increases, this amount has barely increased since the late 1960's when dental insurance began. If you expect to need upcoming work such as fillings, root canals, or crowns, and you have the available funds in your plan, it makes sense to look into having treatment done before the end of the year. So that, 1) you maximize this years' allowance and 2) If you wait until the beginning of the new year you can get the same work done, but you will have used up most of your coverage for the year already, and you still have many months left. If you need follow-up work or a second major procedure, you may be out of insurance and on the hook for expenses. Annual dental maximums generally range from $1000-$3000. If one takes into account that according to WebMD Medical Reference as of 2017, a single crown in the US costs, on average, between $800- $1750, wasting any money that can be put toward that cost seems like a waste. Most dental insurance plans cover between 50-80% of this amount after the deductible. All dollars come from the same source weather they are emergencies such as crowns, extractions or root canals; or just dental cleanings and exams. Besides, putting off needed dental work usually keeps you uncomfortable for a longer time. San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD, often says, "dentistry doesn't hurt, neglect does! Regular dental check-ups and cleanings can save people so many un-pleasantries." and "deferred treatment is often much more complicated and expensive."
- Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Balances – If you have and FSA (Flexible Spending Account) as a free-standing plan or supplement to other healthcare benefits your account balance is funded with pre-tax dollars to cover your health care costs. By using pre-tax dollars, you can save money on your taxes by reducing taxable income. FSA have many upsides, but the downside of an FSA is that you must use the benefits during the year. Most benefits do not carry over; you will lose any unused money in the FSA account at the end of the year. Recently, a few FSA plan administrators have started offering a grace period (usually two and a-half months) to use up your yearly expenses, so make sure to check with your plan. If you still have a significant balance as you approach the deadline, check the details of your policy and understand well in advance what your FSA allows. FSA restrictions have changed over the years, so make sure to find out what the money can and cannot be used for. As of the last time we checked Eyecare and items such as glasses and contacts are a great place to use any remaining funds, so is dentistry. The key to both is to plan your expenses far enough in advance, so you can get a necessary appointment before year's end.
· Plan Changes – Our world is a very strange, turbulent, and ever-changing place at the moment. Despite signing up for 2020's health care plans already, changes can still occur. Who knows? (maybe insurers) Overall benefits you receive in the next year may be different from the ones you received this year. There is no guarantee that dental plans will remain constant, either. Don't count on benefits increases; historically, healthcare benefits to not change for the better based on the economy.
· You- There is one final reason you may need to use up your health insurance and dental benefits before the end of the year –your health. Mind, body, and mouth are all literally connected. Our bodies consist of many systems that work together. Heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, Diabetes, and types of cancers have correlations to one another, and all can be linked to oral health. If you have not been to the doctor or dentist at all for a while, give yourself and your family the present of piece-of-mind. Failing to be pre-emptive with your health is the same as failing to be pre-emptive with your finances. Nothing good ever comes from it.
Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office that overlooks San Francisco's Union Square. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. Over the years, they have transformed 100's of "non-dentist" people into people who actually enjoy their visits and take pride in their smiles. A dental relationship should be a positive one; make sure that you feel comfortable and cared for by your dentist if the experience is "meh…" then ask friends, family, and colleagues about their dentist. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist. Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today