Helping Employees Get the Most Value out of their Dental Benefits
Because dental benefits have the potential to improve both oral and overall health, it's important that employees make the most of their coverage. By taking some simple steps, you can help encourage your group's employees to leverage their dental benefits as effectively as possible.
Education – Ensure that employees are aware of the value their dental coverage provides.
- Minimizing costs. To realize the most savings, your employees should visit dentists in their plan's network. When employees choose a network dentist, they help ensure lower claims costs, which also benefits employers. This offers immediate financial benefits for a self-insured group and can lead to more stable premiums in the long run for fully insured groups. Moreover, make sure your employees know that dentists outside your plan's network may be able to balance bill. This is what happens when a dentist's fee for a certain service exceeds the plans' allowed amount, and the dentist bills the difference.
- Preventing dental disease. Because most dental disease is preventable, many dental plans cover the cost of preventive care at 100 percent. Regular exams and cleanings are key to keeping mouths healthy and catching dental diseases early before they become costly problems.
- Maintaining overall health. Signs of over 120 diseases may be detected in the mouth including diabetes and heart diseases.1,2 During regular appointments, dentists will look for these conditions and will screen for oral cancer with the goal of early detection. This can help lower medical costs by increasing treatment options and improving outcomes.3
Frequent communication – Clear communication can mean the difference between confidence and confusion.
- Continue to remind employees of the benefits of good oral health and encourage them to utilize preventive care. When you do, mention that they can typically visit the dentist for preventive care at little to no out-of-pocket cost.
- Updates on changes. If your plan is updated, provide comprehensive information to employees to ensure they fully understand the changes.
- Check-ins during open enrollment. Employees can make updates at open enrollment, so make sure those who want to make changes don't miss their chance. This is also a good time to remind employees why they should take advantage of dental benefits.
- Ask for feedback. Encourage employees to articulate the positives and negatives of their experiences using their dental coverage. Ask them to provide information that helps prioritize coverage options. And always be open to suggestions.
Resources – Make sure employees have the materials they need to maximize their benefits. Delta Dental of Illinois has a variety of materials you can use to educate employees.
- Your Oral Health Hub. Our oral health website provides employees with a wealth of oral health information including articles, videos, healthy recipes, the ability to ask our dental director oral health-related questions and children's activities.
- Dental 101. We offer information on how to get the most out of a dental plan, how to choose a network dentist, understanding your benefits and more on our Dental 101 section of our website.
- LifeSmile Score. Our online risk assessment tool allows employees to print off an oral health score report and use it to start a conversation with their dentist.
- Cost savings worksheet. Send a cost savings worksheet to show the financial differences between using an in-network dentist versus an out-of-network dentist.
- Employer Tools. Delta Dental of Illinois has developed communication tools for groups to inform employees about their dental benefits and other oral health information, including monthly oral health articles, promotional banner ads and email templates.
Encouraging your employees to use their dental benefits is an important component of employee wellness. In fact, individuals who visit the dentist regularly report better oral health, overall health and physical well-being. Help your employees maintain good oral and overall health and provide the tools they need to have a healthy smile.
1 U.S. Surgeon General Report on Oral Health 2000 – Chapter 3 – Diseases and Disorders
2 Application of the international classification of diseases to dentistry and stomatology : ICD-DA. World Health Organization 1995
3 Steven L. Bricker, Robert P. Langlais, and Craig S. Miller, Oral Diagnosis, Oral Medicine and Treatment Planning (Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1994)