If you have your own dental coverage as well as coverage under a spouse’s or parent’s plan, you have what insurers call “dual coverage” or “dual dental.” And this is a good thing, as it can help reduce out-of-pocket dental costs. However, it can be somewhat complicated.
Your “primary” plan. Your primary plan could be your private dental coverage or dental coverage provided by your employer. It’s the one that pays as if no other coverage is in place; if you do have dual coverage, your primary is the plan that pays first.
Your “secondary” plan. The other dental insurance – your secondary plan – usually will not pay until it confirms the amount paid by the primary, and then may pay all or part of the remaining amount.
Coordinating benefits. Most plans have a “coordination of benefits” clause that indicates which plan pays first, and spells out any special rules regarding payment. If one plan does not contain this clause, that plan is usually the primary.
When both plans contain a coordination of benefits clause, whichever one covers you directly is the primary. This could be your employer’s plan or Medicare, for example. In your secondary plan, you’re usually the dependent, as you would be on your spouse’s employer plan.
Dual plan doesn’t mean twice the benefits. Most insurers coordinate the benefits of both plans to reimburse you up to 100%. But your dual dental plans will not reimburse for you more than 100% of your costs. If, for example, each plan provides for two dental cleanings a year, you can’t double the cleaning benefit to get four. And if your secondary plan has “carve-outs,” such as a “non-duplication-of-benefits” clause, you may still have some out-of-pocket expenses. How the state requires insurers to coordinate benefits may also affect your payment.
Everyone knows the risks of smoking. But as many former smokers can attest, quitting smoking may be the hardest thing you’ve ever done. Some people have attempted to quit up to 30 times before they’re successful.
Even if you’ve failed before, there are many free programs and prescription medications that can help you succeed this time. For example: The American Lung Association (ALA) offers a program called Freedom From Smoking. Available online or by smartphone, this interactive program guides you through the quitting process with support from successful quitters. Additionally, Freedom offers small-group sessions around the country; you can find your local group through the ALA’s interactive national map, by clicking on your state.
Smokefree.gov is another source of help. Whether you want to quit or you need help after you’ve quit, visit the free website and click on an appropriate link to get needed support.
Your health care insurance provider is a great resource to help you stop smoking. Medicare, for example, benefits if you stop smoking, because medical interventions are typically less costly for nonsmokers. It covers smoking cessation medications, including sprays and some oral medications (Part D coverage may offer a wider range of medications than basic Medicare), and also offers up to four individual counseling sessions plus two quit attempts per year. And did you know that most health insurance companies also offer smoking cessation programs?
If you are currently enrolled in a plan through the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also called Obamacare), you may have some level of coverage for stop-smoking programs.
Future policy changes may impact your coverage, so if you’re hoping to quit at some point, you may want to look into these benefits now.
But never quit trying. When a smoker quits, that smoker and his or her family members all benefit. And while it’s difficult, you can do it with the help of these and other resources.
Walking can be a great way to increase your overall health. Like other forms of exercise, walking improves our mood and makes us more productive. Furthermore, as we age, the risk of falls due to balance issues increases; walking reduces the risk by improving coordination and balance. Best of all, walking can strengthen bones and muscles and help manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.
To meet the 30-minutes-per-day activity goal set by experts, increase your footsteps by parking far from your destination and walking. You also can carve out a time at work to do stairs, and if you have a company gym, get in early and do the treadmill. As well, ask if your local indoor mall permits early-bird walkers.
Then there’s this win-win: make a new friend while improving your health, by joining nextdoor.com and looking for neighbors who are seeking walking partners.
Track your progress electronically. There are easy-to-install apps for smartphones that track your steps: S Health tracks steps, time, and even the amount of water you drink per day. Map My Walk shows your route and mileage.
Fitbit sets a goal of 10,000 steps per day (doable in just over an hour, spread throughout the day.) Fitbit’s a wearable, so unlike your easily forgotten phone, steps don’t go uncounted; you get credit for each step.
Many individuals won’t skimp on what they consider essential medical care. However, dental care is the most frequent health cost consumers skip to save money – despite the fact that dental care is critical to good health. The challenge is the additional increasing cost. According to the Consumer Health Alliance, dental care costs increase about 5% annually.
Still, dental coverage can offer significant savings, and you may be able to receive dental insurance through your employer at a decent rate. For example, CostHelper.com reports the average cost of a root canal and crown without dental insurance is about $1,200. With insurance, the average drops to around $650.
Many dental plans are available, with varied coverage. Basic plans usually require a co-pay and cover two cleanings per year, which average $127 without insurance. Most plans cap coverage at a preset annual limit. Other types of plans may be more generous, so it’s a good idea to check with your local agent for more information on available plans.
The next step is finding a dentist. Remember, you must be sure your provider is in your plan. HMO or PPO plans restrict you to specific dentists. You can visit out-of-network dentists on some PPO plans but will receive reduced benefits. Dental indemnity plans are the most comprehensive option, allowing you to visit any dentist. They typically cover between 50% and 80% of the visit’s cost.
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*Referring SafeMoney.com Advisor: Jennifer Lang
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