Dental insurance can be incredibly useful if you’re the type of person to seek routine dental care. Whether it be for cleanings and examinations or restorative treatments like fillings and dentures, having the opportunity to save money on dental care is always a positive thing. However, an overwhelming number of people don’t utilize their dental benefits throughout the year, causing them to leave money on the table.
To learn how much is wasted every year and how you can prevent it, keep reading!
Over $152 Billion Wasted?
The American Dental Association has a good understanding of how much money goes to waste when it comes to unused dental plans. According to a study by the ADA, the average American with dental insurance receives only $323 of dental treatment per year. This is despite the fact that the average dental plan costs $1,250. If 164 million people are not using $927 of their benefits every year, that totals approximately $152 billion going to waste in American alone.
Many people don’t realize that most dental insurance plans are a “use it or lose it” type of insurance. The benefits for PPO plans will reset on January 1st of the following year and funds from certain accounts (such as flexible spending accounts) are forfeited if not utilized. While some plans allow a grace period to use these funds, it’s typically at a discounted rate, meaning they won’t go as far as they could have if you used them sooner.
Understanding Your Benefits
It’s understandable why dental benefits often go to waste; many patients either don’t know that they have benefits to use or don’t know which treatments are covered. That’s why it’s important to read through your plan documents and ask for help from a practice employee if you don’t understand certain parts. They’re trained to work with several different plans and clear up any confusion.
Furthermore, once you know the treatment that you need, ask the dentist to send a pre-determination to your insurance company. This document requests them to process your claim just like they would normally, except you don’t need to send a payment. Instead, the insurance company will send a statement showing exactly what will be paid for and what will need to be paid out-of-pocket.
Keeping Your Oral Health in Check
Fortunately, most dental plans cover the cost of preventive treatments like exams, cleanings and X-rays. With routine preventive care, your risk of having a dental emergency or needing restorative dental work later drops dramatically. That’s why it’s important that you get scheduled on a regular basis, particularly during months where follow-up appointments are easier. Make it a habit to schedule in the spring and fall so you have enough time to complete treatments. A practice employee can help you segment your treatments out in order to maximize your benefits.
Don’t let insurance dollars go to waste, schedule an appointment with a dentist today!
About the Author
Dr. James A. Moreau Jr. earned his DDS degree from the LSU School of Dentistry. In order to make paying for dental care easier, he takes a wide array of insurance plans, offers multiple options for those without insurance to pay, and hires the most knowledgeable staff to help those with questions. To learn more about his practice, you can contact him through his website.