Commentary: The benefits of good dental hygiene are obvious to most people: whiter smiles, better breath and greater self confidence. Unfortunately, nearly half of Americans don’t have dental insurance, preventing them from getting the dental care they need.1
But did you realize that poor dental care among your employees may be hurting their overall health and your bottom line?
Regular dental care is key in maintaining overall health – and seeing a dentist for routine visits can help detect oral health problems early when treatment is likely simpler and more affordable. According to a 2013 article from the Mayo Clinic, good dental care can help detect or prevent these common but serious health conditions: diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and premature birth.
Providing employees with strong dental insurance can not only help keep them healthier, but can also protect your business. Employers rank dental insurance as the fourth most-important benefit needed to attract and retain employees. Employees, meanwhile, value it even higher – saying it’s the second most-important benefit following medical insurance.
There’s a strong need for dental insurance — in fact, it’s one of the most requested types of coverage for employee benefit plans. The gaps in coverage are especially noticeable – and growing – among small employers. According to LIMRA, only 25% of small businesses (under 100 employees) offered dental insurance in 2012. That’s down from 38% in 2000.
A lack of dental coverage may be hurting your company’s productivity. According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, employed adults lose more than 164 million hours of work each year related to oral health problems or dental visits (2012).
Offering a strong dental insurance product does not have to be costly. While traditional group plans can be too expensive for many businesses, employers can offer individual coverage on a voluntary basis, giving their employees access to important protection at no cost to the business.
Here are some key features of a strong dental insurance plan that employers should keep in mind:
- Freedom to see any dentist: Are employees allowed to visit any dentist and receive the same benefit amounts?
- Focus on wellness: Are employees able to receive immediate benefits for preventive services such as routine cleaning and X-rays to promote oral health?
- Comprehensive coverage: Does the plan cover a wide range of dental procedures from fillings and X-rays to crowns and root canals?
- Fixed benefit amounts: Does each procedure come with a fixed benefit amount so there’s no guessing how much the plan will pay?
- Simple: Is the plan simple to understand and explain by not having deductibles, coinsurance, or pre-certifications?
- Guaranteed issue: Are all eligible employees qualified for coverage?
- Network: Is there a large network allowing employees to access discounted dental services?
- Portable: Can employees keep their coverage with no rate increase if they change jobs or retire?
- Rate stable: Do rates remain stable without being subject to an annual renewal process?
- Riders: Are there options to purchase additional benefits through riders for orthodontics or vision coverage?
- Guaranteed renewable: Are the policies renewable as long as premiums are paid?