Use it or Lose it – The end of the year and your dental benefits

If you are like me you may have just realized that we only have a bit over a month left until the end of 2014! Where has the time gone! While we gear up to organize Christmas presents and make our plans to welcome in the new year on December 31st there is another thing that we will be saying good bye to as the year ends, our private health insurance dental benefits for the year!

What are you NOT using that you have already paid for?
With most people paying upwards of $50 per person monthly to get covered for private health insurance you could have paid in excess of $600 for the year. If you’ve paid $600 a year doesn’t it makes sense to get some value by utilizing the benefits of your cover? As with most health insurance policies, the two most common and widely usedbenefits on extras covers are dental and optical.

How does the health fund work?
Each health fund is different but in general most will have two categories for dental.  General dental and Major dental cover. The General dental allowance will give you a rebate on things such as check ups, cleans, fluoride treatment, x-rays, fillings and simple tooth extractions. Major Dental will usually cover more complex treatment like root canals, crowns and implants.

How does the yearly benefits work?
All health funds are different, but generally they will allow for a checkup and clean every 6 months, and then have a yearly limit for general and major dental, which is recharged at the end of the year (some health funds work on a financial year).  The reason I say recharge, is that it DOES NOT roll over, it just tops the limit back up.  If the limit is $1000 for major dental for example, if you don’t use any one year, you still only have $1000 next year, it does not add up to give you $2000.

Prevention is better than a cure!
Although you are probably caught up in the busy period of the year, spare a moment to get your chompers a thorough check and clean for your peace of mind, knowing you won’t get into trouble at the worst possible time especially around the Christmas and new year period when most dentist will probably be closed. If there is a tooth problem picked up early there is almost always an easier and cheaper solution than waiting for it to become painful and costly.

We forget that we’ve had our adult teeth since about the age of 12, we use them at least 3 times a day and they never get a day off! By the age of 45 that’s 12,045 days of using your teeth so of course they need to be maintained regularly. If you bought a brand new car and drove it 100,000kms without a service, would you expect to have problems?  And once it has problems, would you expect them to be a quick, cheap fix?

There is a reason health funds allow for a 6 month check and clean.  That is because if you are having regular maintenance, you are less likely to need more complex treatment, which means they will ultimately have less to pay.  This thought process is the same for you as well.  The more you maintain, the less you need, and the less you pay.

Don’t forget about the kids
This time of year is also when kids go on holidays so it may be a good idea to get your family in. The last thing you want is a child in pain and the stress of trying to find a dentist instead of opening presents on Christmas day.


In Summary:
Understand what you are entitled to!
Check with your health funds to see what dental benefits you have and if they expire on a calendar yearly basis.

Act now, don’t leave it too late!
Take 30-45 minutes out of your busy schedule in the next month to have it done. Remember: simple problem = simple and cheaper solution

If you found this blog helpful please share it with your friends and family. If there are any questions or you would like to book an appointment please contact us.

by Dr Alvin Wong