We're in the middle of our December rush. I don't mean getting ready for Christmas. Once again we have many patients that are trying to take advantage of their dental insurance benefits before the year ends. Most people who have dental insurance have a yearly maximum that is paid by their insurance company. Usually that amount is $1000-2000. If that amount is not used by the end of the year, those benefits are lost. Each October we send a postcard encouraging our patients with untreated dental disease to come in before the end of the year. Our hope is that they will come in October or November. Human nature being what is it is, most patients wait until December to seek dental care. Each year we are unable to accommodate all the requests for appointments.
Similar things happen with cafeteria plans, deductibles, health savings accounts, and flex spending accounts.
We're very grateful to be busy, but feel badly that we won't be able to help everyone. If you need care, please call as soon as possible and we will do our best to help. We even have appointments available in the evenings and on Saturdays.
Many people wonder how the Affordable Care act will affect their dental insurance plans. One interesting thing is that all children will now be enrolled in a dental insurance plan. Even if you don't have children you must purchase pediatric dental insurance as part of your health insurance plan. It looks like the exchange has made it possible for an individual to more easily purchase dental benefits. This will be a good thing. Dental insurance continues to be a bit a misnomer. Insurance is purchased to protect you from loss. If the maximum that your dental insurance will cover is $2000, that is a loss that most could recover from. It is better to look at it as a nice benefit that helps to lower some of your out of pocket costs, but it is not designed to cover significant dental problems. Almost daily I meet a new patient that has not been to the dentist in many years because they did not have "insurance'. Many times they need thousands of dollars of treatment, and their insurance company will only help them with the first thousand. If these patients, had paid for regular care out of pocket, they would have a healthier mouth and less out of pocket expense.
The most healthy mouths I see are those that have regular professional dental cleanings, brush and floss regularly, are careful with their diet, and have cavities and gum disease treated as early as possible....regardless of their insured status.
Article by Jonathan Campbell, DDS. Dr. Campbell is a dentist in Salt Lake City, UT.