Preparing Your Dental Health for the New Year Part 2

dental health

In Part 1 of this two-part series, we talked about why the new year is the perfect time for a complete evaluation of your dental health – a self-assessment and getting a thorough dental exam – to start the year off right.

The good news is that for those who have dental savings or health savings plans, those plans will generally renew with the new year. Thus, if there are dental care needs or dental treatments you have been putting off or pushing away, this might be the perfect time to give them attention.

First, let’s cover the different types of health savings plans you might have, that might be applicable to your dental treatment(s) and care.

Here are the three major types of accounts you might have:

  • A Health Savings Account (HSA)
  • A Medical Savings Account (MSA)
  • A Flexible Spending Account (FSA)

With these types of accounts, you set aside money out of each paycheck, without being taxed on that money.

Specific to the HSA:

To be eligible for an HSA, which has higher deferment limits, you must have a high-deductible health insurance plan. And while such plans typically don’t cover dental care, you can use an HSA or FSA toward most dental expenses, even orthodontia.

The IRS allows an individual to put up to $3,300 of pre-tax income into your HSA account each year. A family can contribute up to $6,500 a year. Seniors over the age of 55, can add an extra $1000 to an individual contribution. Furthermore, HSA benefits roll over to the next year if unused. On the other hand, FSA benefits that aren’t used in a year are lost.

The FSA:

An FSA is – true to its name – is more flexible in terms of who can contribute. Generally, anyone can participate in an FSA account. Like an HSA, an FSA can also be used for generally all “health-related” dental expenses or care. However, with an FSA plan, contribution maximums are lower. Additionally, again, unused benefits don’t carry over to the next year.

With either plan, you will usually get a credit card with the Visa or MasterCard moniker, that can be used as a debit card when you pay eligible expenses at the time of your dental treatment. Most often, the full amount you declare for the account is available at the beginning of the year, when the card is issued, even though your “re-payment” of the amount is deducted over the year, from each paycheck.

More good news is that these plans can be used on top of any other dental plans or benefits you might have. Such as they can be used strictly for your co-pay or deductible.

Caveats and conditions to both the HSA and FSA:

There are some caveats and conditions to both of these savings plans.

The IRS says:

“You can include in medical expenses the amounts you pay for the prevention and alleviation of dental disease. Pre-treatment includes the services of a dental hygienist or dentist for such procedures as teeth cleaning, application of sealants, and fluoride treatments to prevent tooth decay. Treatment to alleviate dental disease include services of a dentist for procedures such as X-rays, fillings, braces, extractions, dentures, and other dental ailments.”

Also in this list are HSA and FSA dental spending exemptions which are basically, anything deemed “elective” in nature such as teeth whitening or cosmetic dentistry. Orthodontia, however, is generally on the approved list.

If you have any questions about your HSA or FSA benefits, then you will want to contact your plan provider. However, so long as they agree that your service is coverable by your plan, then your benefits can be used at pretty much any dentist with your HSA or FSA plan card.

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