Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Having a Hard Time Remembering Your Appointment? We can help!



For years, our practice was like most, we would send out postcards to remind patients of upcoming appointments. Although this method may seem convenient at first, we found that many folks questioned the need for sending more and more paper.   About a year ago, we started receiving many requests for email or text reminders.  Our tech savvy patients love the convenience of having electronic reminders and in the big view, it may help save a tree or two!  Of course, using Dr. Johnson's cell phone and my office email to hand enter the reminders was not terribly efficient. 

We recently installed an eReminders system that works with our software to send text messages, emails, and/or deliver voicemail to patients.  With the number of communication options available with this system you will be sure to love it as much as we do.   eReminders gives you the ability to choose how to keep in touch with our office because we want to use the most convenient way to communicate with you regarding your appointments.   As technology improves, so does our practice.

eReminders uses an automated system that is scheduled to send an email reminder two weeks before your appointment, a phone message two days before your appointment, and a text message the day before your appointment.  If you prefer to opt out of any of the reminders, we can do that...either by using the option on the reminder that you are sent or by calling and having us change it for you.

If you would like postcard reminders, we are happy to do that as well.  It *is* fun to get mail sometimes :).

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Year End at the Dental Office--Time to Consider Your Benefits



This time of year,  snow falls, streets become treacherous and you are rushing to fulfill Christmas wish lists.  Just when you have more than enough to attend to, you realize that that your Flexible Spending Account has funds available that will expire if not used before the end of the year.  Or what about your husband's cavities that he was waiting to schedule when he was "less busy?"  His dental insurance will turn over on January 1st with a new deductible and less benefits for the new year if he does not take advantage of the benefits remaining for this year?  Or you worry that the opportunity to fund next year's Flex Plan expires soon!

At our office, we encounter folks in these situations and help our patients make the most of their benefits.  The following may give you some things to consider in order to make the most of your dental benefits through the end of December and into the new year.

Dental Insurance Considerations

We all know that dental insurance usually has a yearly maximum of benefits and a yearly deductibleThere are other provisions that could make a difference on the benefits you may want to consider at the end of the year.

Benefit years:   Insurance policies often have benefits that turn over at the beginning of the calendar year. Other insurance policies begin benefits at the employee start date, after a new hire probationary period, or at the beginning of the employer's fiscal year.  Let's check your benefit year.  If your employer's benefit year starts in February or March rather than January, you may be able to forgo scheduling asap before December 31st and wait a few weeks when things settle down in January.

Roll-overs:   Some insurance policies will allow the remaining benefits of an insurance plan to be rolled over into the new benefit year.  Let's check to see if the policy has a roll-over option.  You may be able to wait to complete pending treatment until January when things are less hectic.  If there is no roll-over, we can help you find a time for treatment before the end of the year.

Health Savings Accounts

 Health savings accounts let you save pretax dollars for future medical costs.  You have to be enrolled in a high-deductible plan to be eligible for a health savings account. That means your insurance has a minimum deductible of $1,300 as an individual or $2,600 for a family (in 2015). If that's the case, you'll be able to opt into a health savings plan.  An individual can contribute up to $3,350 a year, while a family can give a maximum of $6,650 (in 2015). The funds roll over year-to-year, so you never lose the money. If you know you will have large dental expenses in the coming year, now is the time to plan for the added expense and stock up your HSA.  We can help you plan for next year's expenses by giving a an estimate of expected treatment or a total for visits from the past year.  Remember that your HSA can follow you should you change employment.

Flexible Spending Accounts

Flexible Spending Accounts works the same as an HSA, but you can't contribute as much money to it (a maximum of $2,550 a year in 2015) and the funds usually don't roll over if you don't use them. However, your employer might choose an option that either allows a $500 rollover or a 21/2 month grace period to use the money in the FSA.  Be aware of how your employer has set up your plan.  There are no eligibility requirements for FSA plans.  FSA plans have the same savings and pretax benefits as an HSA, but to someone in a higher cost health plan; one with a higher premium and lower deductible.  Often when one signs up for benefits they will want an estimate of what they think their expenses will be in the new year and contribute that, understanding that they risk losing what's left over at the end of the year.  The patients with a FSA will want a good estimate of their expected treatment and may want to to use it to take care of treatment needed sooner in the year to give them the flexibility of using any leftover amounts towards other healthcare needs.

Let us know specifics about your insurance, HSA or FSA plans
and we will help you make the most of your benefits!