If you have dental insurance, your insurance company provides you with certain dental benefits each year. In case you’re not very familiar with insurance vocabulary, you can think of an insurance benefit as a dental service that the insurance company pays all or most of the cost of. Most dental plans cover the most common preventive services at 100%, meaning the insurance company pays 100% of the cost & you pay nothing. But you should know, if you don’t use these benefits each year, they’re gone forever!
Why does it matter whether you use your benefits each year? For one thing, these benefits are provided as a way to help keep you healthy. That’s why preventive & diagnostic services such as exams & x-rays are usually covered at 100% by the insurance company. Even your free cleanings are a great opportunity for the dental hygienist or the dentist to detect potential problems. Think of it as an incentive to get your teeth checked out by the dentist twice per year.
The other advantage of using up your preventive benefits each year is that it can save you money. The healthier you stay & the earlier problems can be uncovered, the less both you & the insurance company will have to pay for more complex care in the future. For example, a cavity that is caught when it’s relatively small & minor will just result in a filling. A big cavity that has gone undetected for a long time until it started causing problems might result in a crown instead, which is a longer, more complex, & more expensive procedure.
Another reason to use up your dental benefits is if you encounter the need for more than one relatively major dental procedure in a single year. If you’ve been told you need a crown, rather than put off the treatment, if you get it done right away you’ll hit your deductible, the minimum you have to pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company starts helping pay for the cost of your care. But say a few months later you end up needing a root canal on a different tooth. If both treatments fall in the same calendar year, you only pay your deductible once. But if the two treatments fall in two different calendar years, you’ll pay your deductible each time. You’ll save money by completing your dental treatment sooner rather than later & using up your dental benefits!
We know dental insurance (or any insurance for that matter) can be confusing. If you have questions about your coverage, we will do our best to answer them. Our staff is trained to make the most of your dental benefits.
Enjoy Mount Vernon by Candlelight at George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Mount Vernon on Sunday, December 17.