If thinking about medical or dental insurance plans sends your brain in a tailspin, you’re not alone.
Every day patients come to us with questions about how best to use their dental benefits.
A little knowledge about how your insurance works can help you maximize your health coverage, especially when it comes to dental insurance.
What’s an HSA?
A health savings account (HSA) is a personal bank account allowing you to set aside money for your future medical needs. You decide how much to save in your HSA—and you can change that at any time.
Benefits of an HSA
Any money you contribute to your HSA—as well as the interest accrued—is completely tax-free. In 2015, the IRS announced higher limits on contributions to HSAs allowing individuals to save up to $3,350 and $6,650 for a family tax-free. And, if you’re 55 or older, you get to save an extra $1,000, which means $4,350 for an individual and $7,650 for a family. For 2016, the IRS increased the contribution limit for families to $6,750.
Okay, then what’s an FSA?
The driving concept behind HSAs and flex spending accounts (FSA) is fairly similar. You contribute money from your paycheck to a tax-free savings account. The most significant difference between the two types of accounts is when you can spend the money.
Use it or lose it
Any money contributed to an FSA must be spent on eligible medical, dental, vision care or prescription drugs before Dec. 31. Beginning Jan. 1, any money left in your FSA is forfeited. On the flip side, any money you contribute to your HSA is yours to keep even if you change plans, leave your company, or retire.
How can I get the most out of my dental benefits?
Particularly for patients with FSAs, the instinct is to wait until the end of the year to spend your money, in case you or your family experiences an emergency.
Our practice experiences an onslaught of customer appointments in November and December because everyone with an FSA is trying to do just that—spend the money in their FSA account at the last moment. Appointments book up early, and if you wait, we may not have an appointment to accommodate you.
What to do…
Instead, budget the expenses you anticipate for the year and take care of your dental needs early. Start with a check-up as soon as possible to determine what dental work you need. This will allow you to get the work done as soon as you have accumulated enough money.
About Dr. Mike Mavrostomos
In addition to establishing an ethical and quality practice, Dr. Mike continues to spend time each year in continuing education in order to stay on top of the latest techniques and treatments. As a result of his commitment to the highest level of treatment for his patients, his work is being recognized. He was recently named one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top Docs committee. He was also recognized by DaVinci Labs for the quality and artistry of his fine work.