There is an area of insurance most of us don’t think about, and one that is of equal importance to both your well-being and health, and that is insurance for your teeth. But don’t panic if you didn’t think of dental insurance. Even the most savvy of us can stand to be better informed.
Many individuals who pay for dental insurance do not realize that their plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually. Consequently, some patients do not schedule the dental procedures they need, deserve, and have insurance to cover. Thus, the insurance money available to pay dental claims on many patients is never used, and unfortunately those dollars cannot be carried over to the next year. As a result, insurance companies make millions of dollars from patients who forego necessary and preventive dental treatment.
The second most common disease worldwide, after dental decay, is periodontitis (a shocking 70 percent of Americans have some form of periodontal disease that goes untreated). The average cost of periodontal surgery can run up to $10,000 and with our current economic downturn showing no sign of clearing it would make sense then to be prepared. But most individuals do not understand the ins and outs of their dental insurance plan, and rightly so. Dental insurance plans consist of a complicated maze of terminology that can be daunting. But because dental disease is so common, being protected by dental insurance and using your plan to your advantage is not just an essential safeguard for you and your family, it’s also the prudent thing to do.
Many people don’t realize that a great deal of employers allow their employees – what is referred to as – a “Flexible Spending Account” (“FSA”) in which pre-tax dollars are used to cover certain approved dental expenses.
Simply put, each year employees are allowed a certain “amount of dollars” to use towards dental expenses for the current calendar year. This money is used to cover everything from prevention oriented services such as professional cleanings, dental x-rays, and doctor examinations to procedures deemed necessary with careful diagnosis by the doctor, that will eradicate current disease and replace older, faulty restorations in your mouth. Depending on your dollars available, this may include a variety of treatments for periodontal disease, missing teeth, implant placement, orthodontia, replacement of silver fillings, crowns, bridges and the like. In order to determine what treatments you may need now, it is very important that you are in communication with your dentist so that plans may be made to utilize your flexible spending dollars this year.
In my discussions with patients from all walks of life, there is a common thread that concerns me, and it is an important subject upon which to shed light. Often those insured do not realize that they will forfeit the chance to use what benefits are due them prior to the year end December 31, 2010. Your dental insurance carrier is not going to give you notice about what dollars are available to you, but some dental practitioners do. Call and ask your dentist for help.
If you have a FSA account you will want to check with your employer to see if you have any dollars allocated to use this year. If so, you must you use them or you will lose them. Many people do not realize that they have this type of benefit available.
To take full advantage of your dental benefits plan, visit your dentist regularly, get preventive care that your insurance entitles you to that allows you to keep your mouth healthy, follow the treatment plan you and your dentist have developed, do your dental homework, i.e., brush and floss regularly and maintain a regular schedule of oral examinations and professional teeth cleanings performed by a registered dental hygienist.