Adulting: Making smart health benefits decisions all on your own
Are you or is someone you know entering the “adulting” world? Adulting is the process of making decisions, minor and major, for the first time on your own. Some decisions are easy - like what to buy at the grocery store or organizing a ski trip with friends. And some are not so easy – like deciding how much rent you can afford, taking precious vacation days from your new job for your Wi-Fi to be installed, and for newly hired graduates - choosing health benefits for the first time.
When you are reviewing your options for health benefits, you’ll likely be presented with a menu of options with foreign names like deductible, copayment, and premiums. What does it all mean? The choices may seem overwhelming but it’s important to consider all of the options and opportunities being presented to you. Ask questions of your human resources department or your colleagues, they can help you understand all of your options.
Benefits you will use – vision & dental
Two of those health benefit options may be dental and vision coverage. Typically, these options will be on the lower end for monthly premiums compared to your medical coverage. Being new to the world of adulting you might think, “I have 20/20 vision and great teeth, I need this money for my daily caffeine fix.” Think again – adulting also means making your health a priority so you can enjoy all of the benefits of your newfound freedom.
“It may not seem important in the big scheme of things to consider vision coverage when you are fresh out of graduate school or starting an apprentice program,” said Dr. Chad Overman, director of vision benefits for DeltaVision at Delta Dental of Iowa. “Regular eye exams are important even for those with perfect vision to catch potential issues like eye strain from too much screen time or other conditions that can lead to unexplained headaches or dry eyes.”
A similar argument can be made for dental insurance. “In addition to brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily, eating a nutritious diet and drinking plenty of water, you’ll find that maintaining a regular routine of dental exams is an easy way to prevent issues from getting out of control,” said Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, vice president and dental director for Delta Dental of Iowa. “Dental exams can detect 120 signs and symptoms of nondental diseases – that’s the connection between oral health and overall health.”
Of all of the benefits offered, dental and vision coverage are two of the smartest benefits to strongly consider for several reasons.
Why do I need vision coverage?
If you currently wear glasses or contacts, you already know the answer. Medical insurance doesn’t cover glasses, contacts or eye exams. Exams will run between $60 – 100 per visit plus another $50 if you wear contact lenses. Add up what you (or your parents) have spent on glasses and contacts in the last two years and you’ll quickly recognize the value of vision coverage. Plus, the first time you run out of disposable contacts or pop a lens out of your glasses at the gym, having a local optometrist to call will be a relief.
Even if you have 20/20 vision, developing a relationship with an optometrist in your new city is a good idea. Healthy vision is likely essential to almost every aspect of your new job – driving to work, viewing screens, making direct eye contact with customers – so having an understanding of your vision health is helpful when anything changes.
Why do I need dental coverage?
Going to the dentist is important for your oral health and your overall health. Again, add up what you or your parents have spent in dental visits over two years and this is a no-brainer. According to a report by Health Policy Institute for the American Dental Association, in 2016 the per capita dental expenditures in the U.S. were $384, with private insurance the per capita was $178.
Preventive dental care including exams, cleanings and X-rays can help catch dental issues early and these exams are normally covered by most plans. Did you know that 82% of adults ages 20 to 34 have cavities? (That’s you! You’re adulting now, remember?) Dental coverage can safeguard your mouth and your wallet.
In addition to the health benefits of dental and vision coverage, think about the social aspects. Do you want to be part of the 35% of young adults who feel embarrassment or the 33% who avoid smiling due to the condition of their mouth and teeth? Of course not. Do you want to miss the Homecoming tailgate at your alma mater because you ran out of contacts and your optometrist from back home doesn’t have your current prescription? No way! Adulting is easier when you invest in preventive health, even if it means skipping a coffee now and then.
As you begin adulting, keep in mind that you’ll be making first impressions with new co-workers, friends and maybe even a special someone. A confident, beautiful smile is a bigger attraction to 56% of adults than a person’s bank account size and 25% of adults would end a relationship with someone who doesn’t brush twice a day.
Try to embrace all of the new opportunities and relationships that come with adulting. Consistently managing your preventive healthcare, like dental and vision exams, will help your daily life run more smoothly.
Adulting: It’s time to manage your own healthcare
There is one exception to enrolling in health insurance on your own that exists because of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Depending on your situation, you may be able to stay on your parents’ or legal guardians’ health insurance policy until age 26. Under the ACA, young adults may stay on the plan even if they are married, attending school, financially on their own or not living with their parents. However, on your 26th birthday, you will need to enroll in your own plan.
Even if you are still on your parents’ health insurance plans, remember that it’s part of adulting to schedule your regular appointments and follow the instructions of your dentist and optometrist to maintain good oral and vision health.
If your employer doesn’t offer dental and vision insurance, you still have options when it comes to this essential coverage. Delta Dental of Iowa offers individual dental and vision insurance with comprehensive coverage and affordable premiums. Visit our website to find out more as you begin your adventure into adulting.