There are officially 100 days left until the new year - can you believe it? We're sure many people are looking SO forward to 2021 - but we're here to remind you that if you have insurance benefits from your employer, remember to use them up before they expire!
Many people have benefit years that run from Jan 1 - Dec 31, but we do get the random plans every now and then that begin after the calendar year has begun. So, if you fall into the latter category, please just ignore this PSA.
If you benefit year indeed runs from Jan 1 - Dec 31, check to see how much you've used up this year and maximize the amount that remains by putting it towards pending treatments that the dentist has previously recommended or a cleaning and check-up. Most of the time, dental benefits will be separately considered from medical benefits (unless it's under something like a health spending account). In either case, make sure that you're looking at the right numbers. It's also worth mentioning that each family member usually gets their own maximum allowance under insurance.
Remember, when you're calculating the difference between what you've used up and your maximum, you're looking specifically at what has been paid out by insurance. That means that if you get reimbursed 80% of whatever treatment you've completed, that is the value you'd be taking into consideration (not the amount you paid up front) when checking to see how much you have left to use.
As a simplified example, let's say you have had $200 worth of dental treatment for the year of 2020. If your insurance agreed to reimburse you at 80%, you would have received payment from insurance for $160. If your plan maximum was $1500, you will have $1340 left to use for the remainder of this year (not $1300) - because we're calculating what you're entitled to based on previously claimed amounts.
Now, why are we recommending to start booking now - when you still have all of October, November and December to get it all done?
If you have pending treatments that doctor has previously mentioned, know that dental problems don't go away on their own. In most cases, they do get worse over time - not just in terms of discomfort but they also become more costly as the issue progresses, so it's a good idea to do them ASAP. Obviously, there has been some delay in non-emergency treatments due to COVID19, but safety protocols have become more stringent and our office is more than ready for our 'new normal'.
If we haven't recommended anything in particular, a cleaning and checkup is a good idea. That way, if we find any issues, we can still take care of them (over the course of the next couple of months) before your current insurance expires. That maximizes the dental budgeting for this year as well as next year - especially if you had had nothing else planned for the current benefit year.
In other words, the unused amount from this year cannot be carried over to the next year. So let's say you have a max of $1500 each year. If you need fillings that will use up $300, it would make sense to do them before 2021 if you still have room on your insurance. If, say, you did the fillings in the new year and insurance reimburses you $300, then you get some sort of dental emergency in 2021 - you'd be working with an insurance budget of $1200, which may or may not cover all the costs. It's a lot of 'ifs', we know, but we always encourage people to err on the side of caution. You never know when you might get hit with a dental emergency.
It's also a good idea to book ahead in October and November simply because December is a very busy time at the dental office. We have people coming back from university and college. We have school-agers who get more time off school (though with the pandemic and a reduced school schedule, we have had more people of this age group coming in on weekdays at higher rates!). And December seems to be the time when everyone remembers that their insurance benefits are running out and that's the time they try to book. By booking earlier, you'd be avoiding the congestion and reducing stress.
Let's face it, the holidays are stressful enough - and it's likely going to be a different kind of stress this year (with coronavirus and everything), so do yourself a favour and plan ahead.