Cosmetic Dentist Fremont Dr. Brendan Selway and Dr. Frank Cortese

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Fremont Residents Should Act Now to Maximize End of the Year Dental Benefits

Shorter days and colder nights mean only one thing: Fremont will soon be celebrating the holidays and the beginning of a brand new year. While a new year marks a fresh start, it also means you need to maximize end of the year dental benefits before the calendar rolls over on 2013.

That’s because most dental insurance plans provide a set amount of benefits each year, and they expire on Dec. 31. It’s truly a “use it or lose it” situation. Here’s how it works:

If you have dental insurance, your plan provider has allowed you a set amount of dollars to spend during the year for preventative dental procedures like cleanings, x-rays and exams. Most insurance plans will cover 100 percent of the cost of exams and cleanings twice a year, and will cover 100 percent of bite-wing x-rays once a year. Bite-wing x-rays are important because they can detect cavities when they are still very small.

Many insurance companies will also fully cover sealants in patients younger than 18 years old. These thin coatings help protect teeth and avoid tooth decay and damage in the molars, premolars and teeth with deep grooves. Additionally, fluoride treatments are generally a benefit that’s covered at 100 percent. Fluoride treatment strengthens the tooth’s surface and prevents tooth decay.

The benefits don’t carry over to the next year though. You either use the benefits you’ve paid for through annual insurance premiums, or you forfeit the benefit you’re entitled to under the provisions of your plan.

Fremont residents should act now to maximize end of the year dental benefits before losing them on January 1. If you don’t make an appointment for a cleaning and exam now, you risk losing your benefits and wasting the money you paid into premiums all year long.

How Do I Know What Benefits My Dental Plan Offers?

Call your dental insurance provider to determine exactly what procedures your plan covers and the exact amount of your unspent dental benefits. That way, you can truly maximize end of the year dental benefits.

As a rule, preventive procedures like cleanings, x-rays and routine exams are covered by at 100 percent. Basic procedures like filings, extractions and periodontal treatment are covered between 70-80 percent. Major procedures like crowns, dentures and implants are usually covered at a lower rate ”“ 50-60 percent for many insurance plans. Cosmetic treatments, like teeth whitening or veneers, usually aren’t a covered benefit.

Some dental insurers vary your copayment based on the number of years you’ve paid into the policy. For example, if you’ve paid premiums on the policy for one year, you may have to pay 30 percent of the cost for a filing. Your dental insurance will pay the other 70 percent.  But after you’ve been paying premiums for a longer period, the percentage of the cost you’re responsible for may decrease. So, if you’ve been paying dental premiums for three years, your insurance plan may cover a filing at 90 or even 100 percent.

Dental benefits and policies vary widely among plans, so it’s best to go straight to the source to learn more about your benefits. You dental insurance card should have a toll-free number that will allow you to reach a customer service representative who can help you maximize end of the year dental benefits.

Flexible Spending Accounts in Fremont

If you have a Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account through your employer, you will loose the money you’ve contributed to the account if you don’t use it by the year’s end. Act now to determine what dental procedures are eligible to be paid from your flexible spending account. That will allow you to maximize end of the year dental benefits and avoid letting your hard-earned money go to waste.

Why Should I Take Advantage of My End of the Year Dental Benefits?

Many insurance providers change your coverage at the beginning of a new year. The insurance provider may increase or decrease the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket for dental services and procedures. Or, they may stop providing coverage for specific procedures all together. Rather than risk having to pay more in the coming year, it’s best to take advantage of your benefits when you’re certain the procedure will be covered and you know how much you’ll be responsible for paying.

Saving money is a great reason to maximize your end of the year dental benefits. But the most important reason to do so is your oral health. Routine visits to the dentist can identify problems early on and help you avoid bigger problems in the future. Even the tiniest cavity can become a big, expensive problem if left untreated.

Don’t wait too long and miss the opportunity to maximize your end of the year dental benefits! Fremont Cosmetic Dentistry can help you make the most of your dental insurance policy before it’s too late.

Call Fremont Cosmetic Dentistry today and schedule an appointment for yourself and your loved ones who are covered by your dental plan. Our helpful office staff is happy to help you maximize end of the year dental benefits by scheduling an appointment with Dr. Cortese and Dr. Selway. Call 510-651-2222 today!