The hefty price tag and complications associated with medical coverage demand significant time and attention that takes away from dental plans, the “other” healthcare component. Focusing a bit more attention on the benefit that does not draw all the headlines is worth the effort. Employer sponsored dental benefits actually have a higher utilization rate than medical. The employee who takes time off twice a year for cleanings and a check up is coming back with a brighter smile, even though you may be thinking they were really at a job interview.
Is there a network available?
Dental costs have risen but they can still be pretty predictable. Crowns and dentures are not cheap but they don’t carry the price tag of catastrophic care. Employers have increasingly turned to offering dental plans that include a network, or PPO, of providers who have agreed to specific fees for identified procedures. The 4 page list of covered items that includes everything from sealants to oral surgery will seem daunting but it won’t take long to identify just how much the plan will pay and the employee cost for each filling.
PPO plans offer the availability of out of network coverage through any dentist, the costs will be higher and the employee foots the bill. Employers can help direct participants to lower cost network care through education and selecting the right network. Make certain the dentists in the PPO are accessible to your employee population, either near work or home. This doesn’t mean you must have a network with a dentist for the children of the one employee who lives 80 miles away. It’s unlikely you will find the perfect network but you can identify one that meets most needs. If there is a well regarded dental practice in the area ask if they are part of a network or would join one. Your employees will appreciate hearing, “Downtown Dental is now a network provider under our plan, make your appointment there to improve oral health and reduce out of pocket costs.”
Good dental health has been consistently linked with better overall health. Educating employees combined with regular dental benefit reminders and explanation improves employee satisfaction and adds value to the plan.
Is your plan up to date?
Plan components have not necessarily kept pace with changes in dental care.
Here are some questions to ask to make certain that your 2010 dental plan is not stuck in 1980:
- Are white fillings covered for back teeth? Many plans pay only for amalgam (silver) fillings for th teeth we don’t see while dentists are consistently using white for all of this care.
- Is screening for oral cancer covered? It involves a simple procedure.
- How often can crowns and bridges be replaced? You may be paying for the availability of more frequent replacement than statistically necessary. Ask for an explanation.
- Are more frequent cleanings available for individuals with periodontal disease? These people are likely to receive multiple health benefits from cleanings 4 times a year.
Taking a closer look at your plan before automatically renewing for another year can induce smiles all around in cost savings and updated care.