It’s hard to believe the insurance benefits that slide through a family’s fingers at the stroke of midnight each New Year. Most people’s insurance benefits include preventative care and maintenance visits that are tagged “use them or lose them” and typically reset at the beginning of each year.
The reason insurance companies offer what amounts to essentially a “gift card” for families is because they know the value of preventative care. Insurance companies value prevention so much that they allocate upwards of $1000 per year (the average alloted benefit we see among our patients) toward standard visits just to help people prevent deeper dental problems (or more specifically, higher bills for your insurance company to pay down the road on your behalf).
The question often comes up in the dental profession: Why would people in essence throw away money allocated for their preventative care and maintenance?
It comes back to three main reasons: 1) Time and Priority, 2) Fear of Dentists, and 3) People Misunderstanding their Insurance Benefits.
The first, time and priority, is a tough one. The months slide by and people have every intention of scheduling their routine care, only to encounter a scheduling wall when they try to squeeze something in that last week of December. My advice? Schedule now to obtain the appointment you want before the end-of-year rush.
As far as the fear of dentists goes, preventative care is the best tool to avoid lengthy visits and treatments that result from neglected teeth and gums. Routine care and cleaning will help most people circumvent the things they are really afraid of: massive dental work.
And finally, there are frequent misunderstandings regarding dental insurance benefits. Check with your insurance company or employer, or call our office to learn more about what is included in your preventative care and how much of your dental insurance benefit remains to be used in 2009. The same is true for flex spending accounts or cafeteria plans. If you’ve worked hard to save that money, don’t lose it! Most people are surprised to find out how liberal their benefits and savings plans are in terms of their family’s preventative dental care, or that the money they’ve ear-marked for medical spending can often be used on dental care.
And so I leave you with this question. Do you know how many dollars in “free” dental benefits you’ll let go at the stroke of midnight this December 31st? If you find that pocket of money is sitting in your insurance account, go ahead and use what you’ve paid for before you lose it. It will prove to save you big money both today and down the line!
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