Eric G. Jackson, DDS, MAGD, FICOI, FICD, FADI
When it comes to insurance in general, understanding your policies is not always so black and white. Add in your health and important health care decisions into the equation and insurance can become extremely confusing, overwhelming and stressful for an individual. Rest assure that if you are ever confronted with dental coverage concerns the staff at Oral Health Care Professionals is extremely educated and well diverse on this very topic and can easily guide you through the dark waters of dental insurance. It is important to realize that dental insurance is much different than traditional medical insurance. Dental insurance is designed merely as a supplement to help you cover the costs of your dental treatment.
Understanding your dental benefits is key when it comes to getting the most from your dental coverage each year. Know your benefits, annual maximums and plan frequencies. Your dental benefits and out-of-pocket costs depend on the contract your plan sponsor (your employer is normally your plan sponsor) has set up with the dental insurance company. Coverage can range anywhere from 0% to 100% of the total bill.
Unlike medical disease, which is unpredictable, dental ailments are generally preventable. Get regular checkups. The most basic way to ensure you get the most from your dental plan is to visit your dentist regularly. Doing so will help to ensure you get the preventive care you need to stay healthy. Emergency Care Only Dentistry can be much more costly for you in the long run. On that same note, do not postpone diagnosed untreated dental work either. Putting off or avoiding dental treatment can result in serious complications such as infection and tooth loss because of such avoidances. The financial aspect of avoidance can be costly as well.
Many times patients procrastinate until the end of the year to complete their dental treatment causing a panic to get dental work finished by the end of the year or face losing yearly dental benefits. Many dental offices are slammed with last minute treatment appointments and, at times, are not able to accommodate patients with their desired appointment times. Resulting in patients either losing work and/or personal time to come to the dentist or they lose their dental benefits for the year because schedules do not allow for treatment before the start of the new year. A tip for those patients that like to wait until the end of the year to start their dental treatment is to schedule your first appointment as close to the Thanksgiving Day Holiday as possible. This allows your dentist plenty of time to complete your treatment before December 31 and makes those prime appointment times more accessible for you. For example, the average turnaround time on a crown is two to three weeks. Even if your dentist wanted to help you use your benefits before the end of December, it would be physically impossible to get a high quality crown back from a lab in less than two weeks. So it is important to keep in mind not only the dental treatment needed to be completed but also the amount of time it will take for treatment to be completed in order to maximize your dental benefits for the year.
Patients should take an active role in planning with their dentists when it comes to their oral health care. Patients and dentists should develop a personalized dental plan that goes beyond regularly scheduled checkups and exams. A personal dental plan may be as simple as brushing and flossing on a regular basis or it may include corrective care and the steps needed to carry out treatment efficiently and effectively. Having a plan allows our office staff to help you plan for dental treatment and get the most out of your dental coverage. Given enough time, pre-determinations (aka pre-authorizations) can be submitted to insurance companies. Pre-determinations let you and the dentist know if services are covered by the dental insurance plan and the anticipated amount of payment prior to treatment being completed.
Navigating the waters of insurance is no easy task but with a little bit of knowledge and help with our dental insurance experts, you can easily get the most benefit from your dental insurance plan each and every year. Remember, prevention is key!
If you would like to speak about pediatric thumb sucking, or any other dental topic, please feel free to call the office and schedule a complimentary appointment with me. Email and Twitter are also available options. I am extremely passionate about modern dentistry and love discussing it with patients, so don’t hesitate to contact me.
Eric G. Jackson, DDS, MAGD, FICOI, FICD, FADI