Dr. Paul Perella, DMD

USE IT OR LOSE IT!

We're quickly approaching the holidays, and before you know it, it's New Year's Eve.

When you're thinking about what kind of resolutions to make, consider your dental needs. If you have dental insurance, remember that many insurance plans are based on a calendar year, which means any of their 2012 annual benefits will expire at the end of the calendar year.

The phrase "Use it or Lose it" really does apply to dental benefits. If you have dental insurance, your insurer has allowed so many dollars per calendar-or fiscal year, and unused dollars do not carry-over. If you participate in a Flexible Spending or Health Savings Account, and you don't use all your benefits before the end of the year, you will forfeit any left-over money in these accounts-benefits which you have paid for.

If you don't use that money, it can't be carried over to next year and is lost forever!

Given the fact that most patients only have about a month and a half to use their dental insurance benefits, here are some tips to help you maximize your dental care benefits:

1) Call your dental insurance provider and find out the exact amount of your unspent dental benefits.

While you're on the phone, find out what dental procedures will qualify. Typically, preventive procedures such as dental cleanings, dental x-rays, and routine dental exams are covered, while other treatments, such as root canals, crowns and bridges are covered but at lesser percents. However, dental benefits on every dental insurance plan are different, so it's best to find out what your benefits are.

2) Call your dentist and schedule an appointment for yourself and any eligible family member covered by your dental plan. The sooner you do this, the more likely your dentist will be able to schedule you and your family member's appointments.

3) Insurance companies often make changes to the benefits they provide, which could include changes in procedures covered and copay increases. So the plan you had this year may not be the same as next year.

4) While saving money is a big motivator, routine visits to the dentist can detect early problems like gum disease and oral cancers. Even a small cavity or dental filling left unattended can become a bigger, more expensive dental problem if you ignore it