It’s that time of year again – when you start seeing lots of messages around your insurance benefits. Use it or lose it. Act now. Don’t let your benefits go to waste. These are all valid, but how about taking a slightly different approach to using your benefits? One that is more strategic, and will support you in helping your child win at school, become more confident, and have a healthy start to the New Year?
“We don’t have enough conversation around the strategic use of dental benefits,” said Dr. Jill Ombrello, founder of Dallas-based Central Dentist. “Whether it’s using the last of existing benefits, or maximizing the use of an FSA or even HSA, now is the time to have a conversation regarding both short and long-term procedures.”
The Conversation Begins with Understanding the Differences
Many employers provide both dental and medical benefits, as well as either a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA). In both cases employees can set aside money for health care costs known as qualified expenses. These include deductibles, copayments, and prescriptions. However, there are some distinct differences between HSA’s and FSA’s that should be understood in order to plan benefit usage.
To qualify for an HSA, you must have a high deductible health plan. HSA’s do not have a “life expectancy.” In other words, you can keep putting money into them and they continue to roll over into the next year. Plus, HSA’s will follow you as you change employment. This allows for you to make decisions on your timeline, outside of the normal annual benefit year, and provides more freedom. Because of the eligibility restrictions, however, they are not as common.
FSA’s are more common and have no eligibility requirements. However, there are other restrictions, such as contribution amounts can only be adjusted at open enrollment or a qualified status change. Most important, with few exceptions, FSA’s are “use it or lose it” so you must use the money during the benefit year. Plus, you typically lose them with a job change.
“The key to ensuring you make the most of your benefits is to first understand them thoroughly, and then make a plan,” said Dr. Ombrello. “Our team is adept at researching insurance policies and work with our patients to support them in understanding their plans and options, including any outside options such as Care Credit.”
How Can You Be More Strategic Using Benefits?
Once you determine the landscape of your existing benefits, it’s time to ask yourself some questions:
- Have I used all my existing benefits?
- Are their funds in my FSA that will expire?
- How to I plan the usage to give me and my child the best care?
It’s the last question that is crucial. Determining money left over is easy. However, putting together a longer-term plan requires a little forethought. For example, FSA’s are available to you in full at the beginning of the next calendar year. So now you have more dollars to allocate to benefits.
“Let’s say your child needs some dental work, and you are also interested in Healthy Start as another way to support your child. We can work with existing benefits and FSA’s to get the initial dental work done. Then we can work with the new FSA money to begin Healthy Start,” said Dr. Ombrello. “When we are able to have these planning sessions with our patients, we can ensure that they get the best solutions while maximizing their benefits.”
She went on to say “The key is to engage with us so we can provide you information to utilize existing benefits and plan for next year.”
Take a New Approach to Maximizing Benefits for Your Child
Dr. Ombrello and her team are available to support you in navigating both what is best for your child and how to maximize benefits to support your pocketbook.
“Our number one goal is to give every child the best chance to be successful, and support their parents in doing so,” said Dr. Ombrello. “We want to utilize every approach to make that happen.”
Healthy Start provides a multitude of benefits for your child, including increased focus, better sleep habits, and improved coping skills. To learn more about Healthy Start, contact us today through this form or by calling (469) 721-6026.