While it may not seem possible, the end of 2021 is right around the corner. In a few short weeks, we will ring in a new year, and for most dental insurance patients, a new set of dental benefits. If you have dental insurance, most plans do not roll over benefits from year to year. They likely expire and you will lose those insurance dollars if you do not use them by the end of the year. If you still have not met your maximum benefit for the year, now is the time to schedule any needed treatments to use your benefits.
Dental Insurance Basics
Dental insurance is designed to make dental care more affordable, but it is not as inclusive as medical or health care plans. Most dental insurance only pays a percentage of “necessary” dental treatments. Every plan is different – even dental plans from the same carrier are very different in coverage. Most pay from 30-100%, which can be a large difference in the out-of-pocket costs for the patient. For most people, dental insurance coverage is confusing, especially since there are maximum payouts for certain services and other anomalies. At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we try to help our patients decipher their dental plans to get the most from their benefits.
Dental insurance plans usually cover most of preventive care visits, such as checkups, cleanings and x-rays. Treatments like fillings, crowns, root canals or extractions may be partially covered up to a certain amount. There is a maximum payout per year and most of these benefits are on a “use it or lose it” basis. This is why it is so important to utilize your benefits every year with routine checkups and cleanings, as well as any treatments that are needed.
Choosing a Dental Insurance Plan
If you have a dental insurance plan or you are shopping for a plan, there are a few things to consider. November is often the time for open enrollment for changing or signing up for new insurance plans through your employer. If you have the option of choosing your plan, there are a few ways to determine the best option for you and your family’s needs.
- Total payout. How much will the plan pay out per year for your dental costs? Most dental insurance plans pay about $1000-$1500 total per year, per person covered. You will want as much coverage as possible if you need more than just preventive care.
- Premium costs. Dental insurance plans usually run around $350-$550 per year, more for family versus individual coverage. Your costs may be lower if you receive benefits through your employer.
- Orthodontics and specialized care. Dental insurance plans can have separate coverage for orthodontics and other specialized dental treatments. If you have kids that needs braces or you are considering aligners, you want to check out coverage for those specific treatments.
- Acceptance. If you have a dentist you love (like one of our excellent doctors at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta), you will want to ensure the plan you choose is accepted at your dental office. We accept many forms of insurance – just ask our staff which insurance carriers we work with before shopping for your plan.
Choosing the right dental plan can help minimize your out-of-pocket dental costs. You want a plan that gives you enough coverage, but there is no reason to pay more for a more extensive plan when you only need basic care. You will likely have out-of-pocket expenses if you need a complex procedure like a root canal or dental crown regardless of your dental plan.
Getting the Most from Your Insurance Plan
Since most people pay for these dental benefits, it is a waste not to use them to the fullest extent. If you have $500 or more of unused benefits at the end of the year, you are only helping increase the insurance company’s profits. If you want to use your benefits but do not want to have extra costs during the holiday season, focus on preventive care. Most dental insurance plans cover up to 100% of preventive care, which means little to no expense for you. Routine exams, cleanings and x-rays are some of the services that may be covered at 100%.
If you already had your checkups and cleanings for the year, consider other treatments that have been added to your treatment plan. Now may be the time to fix that chipped tooth or to get that cavity filled. If you have orthodontic benefits and you want to get started with Invisalign treatment, start the process now to use your coverage. Existing patients at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta can call our team to see if there are any recommended treatments you need that can be completed by the end of the year. If you are a new patient, you can come in for an exam and cleaning to begin using your benefits.
We Are Here to Make Dental Care Affordable!
At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we understand that our patients have to watch their budgets. We have bills to pay, too; and it is our goal to make dental care as affordable as possible for our patients. While it is ultimately up to you to check your insurance coverage, we will do our best to help determine what portion of your dental costs will be paid by insurance and what will need to be paid out of pocket. Our team has extensive experience working with many insurance carriers and we can make the process easier and simpler for you.
When it comes to costs not covered by insurance, we can help make those expenses fit your budget. We work with Wells Fargo Health Advantage and Care Credit for dental financing for our patients. These plans offer low monthly payments for dental expenses that make it easier to get the dental care you need today and pay for it over time. We can provide you the information to apply – there is no initial payment required and the first payment is not due for 4-6 weeks. You can choose your term or plan, from 6-18 months.
Check Your Family’s Benefits
Now is the time to check the benefits for all the members of your family. If you can schedule a few checkups or cleanings before the end of the year, you can use up your available insurance dollars instead of letting them go to waste. Since each family member has their own pool of benefits, it is important to look at the remaining balance for each person and schedule appointments as needed. This can leave more coverage available for next year to reduce your personal dental costs.
At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we always put our patients first. We strive to make dental care comfortable and affordable for our patients. If you still have insurance dollars on your dental plan that need to be used by the end of 2021, give us a call. We can work with you to make the most of your benefits before they expire. Call our office in Atlanta today to talk to one of our team and schedule your end-of-year appointments.