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Open enrollment is here: 5 tips to choose the right plan

Open enrollment season is an important time for employees and individuals to review and make important decisions about their dental and vision coverage. Navigating open enrollment may seem daunting, but the tips below can help you confidently make informed choices that keep both your smile and wallet healthy.

But first: When is open enrollment?

The start of open enrollment may vary based on how you’re getting your dental and vision insurance.

If your benefits are through your employer, your open enrollment period will vary, but it’s usually 30-60 days before any new plan changes become effective. Your company’s human resources team or benefits manager will communicate your company’s specific open enrollment period.

If you need an individual plan, you can enroll any time during the year. If you enroll before the 25th of the month, your coverage will begin on the first of the following month.

Is it time to make some changes to your dental and vision coverage? The tips below will help make open enrollment a breeze.

Tip #1: Take a close look at your current coverage: Even if you don’t think you need to make plan changes, the open enrollment period is an annual reminder and opportunity to review your dental and vision benefits. Take a look at your current deductibles, copayments and coverage limits. What services are covered? What services are excluded?

Tip #2: Forecast your future dental and vision needs: You can’t predict the future, but you might be able to anticipate certain dental or vision procedures you or your family would like to have in the year ahead. Do those plans align with your current dental and vision plans? If not, you may need to change your coverage.

Tip #3: Explore our online tool to help sort through plan options: Having options is great, but it can be hard to know what plan is best suited for you and your needs. Delta Dental’s Dental Plan Comparison tool is a good starting point to compare coverage.

Tip #4: Discuss your options with an expert: Navigating open enrollment can be overwhelming, especially if you're new to the process. That’s why Delta Dental of Iowa offers consulting services for employer groups and individuals on what dental and vision benefits would work best for them. If you’re weighing between two individual plans, our sales team can help walk you through the plans. If you have employer-sponsored dental and vision benefits, reach out to your company’s human resources or benefits team. They can provide you with additional information and help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

Tip #5: Set a reminder to ensure you lock in your changes on time: When open enrollment closes, you won’t be able to submit benefits changes until next year’s open enrollment period or you have a qualifying life event (like a marriage or birth of a child). Set a calendar reminder to submit all your dental and vision insurance changes before the final day of open enrollment to ensure you have the coverage you need when you need it.

When in doubt, reach out to us

Open enrollment is a confusing time for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking the time to understand your coverage and anticipate your future needs, it can empower you to make an informed decision that supports not only your health but also your financial wellness. Whether your dental and vision plans are employer-sponsored or through an individual plan, Delta Dental of Iowa is here to help answer any questions you have as you navigate plan changes. Reach out to us online or give us a call at the number on the back of your Delta Dental of Iowa ID card.

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Costume contact lenses: Spooky but not safe?

Costume contacts, also known as fashion, colored, decorative, cosmetic or cosplay contacts, can be a unique and fun way to transform your eyes and are especially popular during Halloween season. But despite their name, decorative contact lenses aren’t a beauty or costume item — they are a medical device that requires a prescription to be safely worn. Wearing colored contacts without a prescription or without the knowledge of an eye specialist can cause severe and permanent damage.

Costume lenses are considered a medical device

Just like prescription contact lenses for vision correction, decorative lenses are also considered medical devices, even if they don’t offer any vision correction.

In the United States, medical devices are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA requires that all contact lenses be purchased with a prescription, so it is illegal for anyone to sell contacts, including costume or colored contacts, without a prescription from the buyer.1

Why is a prescription so important?

All contact lenses must be custom fitted by an eye specialist to ensure they mold properly on your eye. If they don’t fit your eye correctly, contacts can scratch the top layer of your eye. Counterfeit contacts may also contain bacteria that can lead to potentially serious eye infections, causing pain, swelling and redness.

Another danger in non-FDA-approved costume lenses is they may prevent a healthy amount of oxygen from passing through the contact into the eye due to the colors used on the lens. If eye issues aren’t addressed early, they can become permanent. Costume contacts have also led to blindness in some users.2

Your eye specialist can confirm whether your contacts are safe

Your eye specialist should sign off on any decorative contacts you plan to wear, whether you plan to buy them from your eye specialist directly or purchase elsewhere. If you have purchased costume lenses from a third party, bring them in so your vision provider can check their fit on you and confirm that they may be worn safely. They can also share tips on how to safely wear the lenses to prevent infection and irritation.

Other costume contact safety tips

Here are other ways to ensure the safety of your eyes while wearing costume contact lenses:

  • Only purchase from retailers who require a prescription for purchase. Be wary of costume shops and novelty stores that may be selling contacts illegally.
  • Only purchase contact lenses that are FDA approved.
  • Avoid lenses that advertise as “one size fits all” or “no prescription required.”
  • Contact lenses should never be shared with others.

The bottom line: If your decorative or colored contacts were purchased without a prescription and you didn’t confirm whether they are safe with your eye doctor, they may harm your eyes. Signs of eye infection — including redness, pain and swelling — can cause permanent damage if not treated quickly. If you experience any eye problems during or after wearing costume contact lenses, see an eye care professional immediately.


1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration

2. American Academy of Ophthalmology


U.S. Food & Drug Administration