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Dental Insurance – Use it or lose it

Once again, the holiday season is upon us. And while I understand that this wonderful time of year is often filled with family, friends and fun, there is one other thing that you should be thinking about. Dental insurance. Boring, I know. Mundane, definitely. I get that. But there are also some important things you should understand if, like most people, you rely on your dental insurance to help cover the cost of maintaining your pearly whites.

Did you know that you could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by using your dental benefits before the end of the year? That’s right – it’s all about timing. Most dental insurance plans run on a calendar year (check yours) – and this means that this is an important time for you to understand their rules. Here are five reasons that will show you why these next couple of months could be the best time to make an appointment.

Yearly Maximum. This is the most money that the dental insurance plan will pay for your dental work within the year, and averages around $1,500 per person. If you have unused benefits at the end of the year, they will not roll over. You lose them as soon as that calendar page flips.

Deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you must pay to your dentist out of pocket before your insurance company will pay for any services, and averages about $50 per year. Again, as soon as 2014 arrives, your plan requires you to meet that deductible all over again.

Premiums. If you are paying your dental insurance premiums by the month, you should be using your benefits. Otherwise, why are you paying? It’s like throwing money into the garbage! Even if you have healthy teeth and aren’t in need of treatment at this time, your regular cleanings and exams are usually covered at 100 percent. This is because insurance companies have figured out that it saves them (and you) money if you catch problems when they are small, rather than waiting for expensive treatment needs.

Fee Increases. Another reason to use your dental benefits before the end of the year is possible fee increases. It is a fact that health care costs are rising way faster in America than inflation, despite a struggling economy. This is especially true in light of current events. Most of these increases occur at the beginning of the year.

Dental Problems Can Worsen. This is intuitive: By delaying dental treatment now, you are risking more extensive and expensive treatment down the road. What may be a simple cavity now could turn into a root canal later and maybe even lead to tooth loss.

So, if you have dental insurance, take a year-end inventory of your plan and see if you can put it to work for you. It really is, as they say, a “use it or lose it” proposition. Don’t lose it.

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