October is here!! This means only 3 months left in 2021. It’s crunch time to get everything done that we haven’t gotten done during the rest of the year. For those with remaining dental benefits, it’s also the time of year to consider utilizing those so you don’t lose them.
Unused dental benefits go directly back to the insurance company, which generates hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the insurance companies each year. Dental insurance companies count on the fact that many people will not claim their $1000 or so in benefits by the end of the calendar year. Those with dental benefits should look for legitimate means to use these benefits before they are lost, especially if you haven’t been to a dentist in a while.
For example, maybe a crown has been recommended by your dentist, but you have procrastinated about it. It would make sense to consider using those dental benefits before the end of the calendar year. This allows a whole new round of dental benefits to be used for unexpected dental needs, and maximizes the value of the premiums paid.
Remember, insurance companies are in the business to make money. They don’t want you to use your dental benefits. If the balance (co-payment) you will owe for the dental work is too much for you, consider financing options through your dental office. Most dental offices offer interest-free financing to patients for up to 12 months. Financing your balance in this way may make more financial sense than throwing money away to fund the insurance company’s pocketbooks.
Another thing to consider as the end of the year approaches is the use of flex spending accounts. Many employers now offer pre-tax flex spending accounts for healthcare expenses. Often underutilized, these are excellent mechanisms for saving about 20 percent on needed dental care. If you are paying for your dental insurance premiums, it may even make sense to fund an available flex spending account with that premium money instead of, or in conjunction with it.
For example, if you are anticipating the need for $3000 in dental care, opting to place the $3000 in a flex spending account can save the income tax on those monies and can usually be used as soon as January 1st. If you have money left in a flex spending account, remember to check with your employer to determine if that money needs to be used by the end of the year. You don’t want to lose that money either.
As you begin to make financial decisions for the end of this year and for the upcoming year, consider a discussion with your dental office’s financial person. They are often an untapped wealth of information, and can usually thoroughly and knowledgeably discuss your dental financial options with you.
And, don’t wait too long. Dental office schedules get full quickly this time of year with patients trying to use dental insurance benefits and unused flex account money. Maximize your hard-earned dollars.
Dr. St. Clair maintains a private dental practice in Rowley and Newburyport dedicated to health-centered family dentistry. He has a special interest in treating sleep apnea and TMJ problems. If there are certain topics you would like to see written about or questions you have please email them to him at firstname.lastname@example.org