Tooth Talk: Dentist gives tips on dental insurance

Tooth Talk - dental insurance

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dr. Wynn Okuda appeared on Sunrise this morning to tell you what you need to know about your dental insurance. He said that most people don't know what their plan is. He said to look online so that you know the key points and benefits that are offered to you.

Also, be proactive. You're paying for this benefit, so you should use it for your cleanings and examinations. If you have larger dental needs, try to get procedures pre-approved so that you're not surprised by the bill at the end of the treatment. This can also help you plan for your future dental needs.

Lastly, make sure to use it. You have an annual maximum. Find out what that is and take advantage of your plan.

From Dr. Wynn Okuda

Dr. Wynn Okuda wants to encourage patients to investigate their dental insurance.  It’s very important to learn more about your dental insurance and how to best use it.  Dr. Okuda gathered information from several dental insurance companies, such as Hawaii Dental Service (HDS) and MetLife.  Let’s take a closer look at how to do this. 


Plan Benefits and More.  To help patients understand their dental insurance all hours of the day, many insurance companies now feature dental insurance information online.  Using a private login, patients can view benefits of their specific plan, as well as their past dental claims history.  Of course you can always call your dental insurance company during business hours for the same information.  Your human resource department can also provide you with certain information. 

Key Information.  Know the key information of your dental insurance plan.  For example, your plan may have a wait period before it will pay for certain larger procedures, such as crowns and bridges. 

Specific Benefits. Every plan is different, so know the specifics of what’s covered in your plan.  For many plans cosmetic procedures, such as teeth bleaching are not covered.  Tooth-colored fillings in the back teeth may not be covered in full.  However, plans may pay for a portion of it, up until what they would pay for an amalgam filling.  Other things to know are if you have a child covered on your plan, at what age will their coverage end. 


Future Dental Problems?  Ask your dentist to inform you of any future dental problems that may be starting now to know what to expect in the future.  This may include aging crowns or fillings that will have to be changed down the road.  It’s important to discuss with your dentist when you are having pain and discomfort. 

Cleanings and Exams.  Take advantage of your dental benefits for cleanings, exams and x-rays.  Don’t only visit the dentist when you are having a problem.  These preventive services will help you maintain the best dental health and minimize dental related problems. 

Preauthorize Services.  To help you plan ahead, ask your dental office to file a preauthorization with your insurance company for more extensive services, such as crowns and bridges.  The insurance company will inform you of how much they will pay, before any services are done. 


Annual Maximum.  Each plan has a different maximum dollar amount per year that the insurance company will pay for dental services.  This amount renews at the beginning of the plan year.  If you do not use this amount, it doesn’t roll over and you’ll lose it. 

Plan Year.  Find out if your plan year is the calendar year or begins on another month. 


Tip of the Day

Find out if your work place offers "Flexible Spending Accounts", where a portion of your pretax wages can be set aside to pay for medical or dental expenses.  This would definitely help supplement whatever dental insurance covers.  If it's offered, evaluate if it would help you.

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