Don't Lose Your Benefits...


Use What You’ve Earned… 

            In one of my desk drawers, there lays a stack of unused and partially used gift cards. Some were gifts, others exchanged for credit, and still others arrived through various credit card rewards programs. Many of them have a number written on their back in black Sharpie marker.  $17.85, $6.74, and so on. On the rare occasion that I get to wander into Austin or San Antonio on my own, I grab the stack and treat myself to whatever funds might be left on them. I make myself buy things I want versus things that I need. After all, most of the cards were meant to be gifts.

            In a way, dental insurance benefits are a lot like my stack of gift cards. Dental insurance is a benefit (gift card), provided by employers and earned by employees, to allow for some help in covering the costs of dentistry. Just like my stack of gift cards, those benefits often come with limits or strings attached. Most dental plans have a maximum or limit to the benefits that they pay out each year. Quite often, these benefits disappear when the plan or calendar year rolls over. Some plans do allow part of the unused benefits to carry over from year to year. Quite often, though, potential fixed teeth are lost for good once the plan year ends.

            Because of this phenomenon, dental offices get quite busy at the end of the calendar year. Added to this surge of insurance patients are a number of families who maintain a June and December cleaning schedule to work around school holidays. Plus, most dentists like to spend holiday time with their families. If you add up the holiday time off, plus patients wanting to use up their benefits, plus the regularly scheduled recalls, you will find dental offices quite busy come November and December.

            Now is the time to avoid the year end dental treatment rush. Dental insurance plans are often quite complex. Determining your remaining benefits alone can be quite daunting and time consuming. A quick call to your dental team will usually help. Through their experience and knowledge of dental insurance, they can often get accurate estimates of what benefits remain. A good team can then analyze recommended treatment and cross-match the benefits to cover needed care in the most efficient way. This maximizes benefits and helps to reduce out-of-pocket costs.

            With the money you save, you might be able to go out and buy a few gift cards for the holidays.

            Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at