NU Online News Service, Nov. 9, 2004, 11:25 a.m. EST

The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, New York, is updating its group dental plans.[@@]

The insurer is appealing to employers throughout the United States by introducing 2 stripped-down dental plans and a “Maximum Rollover” feature that gives employees a kind of personal dental health reimbursement arrangement.

The new dental plans, the DentalGuard Basic and Basic Plus plans, were created as cheaper alternatives to Guardian’s richer DentalGuard plan. The Basic Plus plan is 10% less expensive than the original plan, and the Basic plan is 20% less expensive, Guardian says.

The Maximum Rollover features lets DentalGuard members roll over a portion of unused annual maximum expenditures into a “personal Maximum Rollover Account.” Members can use the account cash to pay for dental care in later years, Guardian says.

The new DentalGuard plans and the Maximum Rollover feature are available to employers with at least 10 eligible lives.

In California, Guardian is introducing another option, a Monthly Switch feature, that will let employees switch between preferred provider dental plans and more restrictive dental health maintenance organization plans each month, rather than waiting for an annual open enrollment period to switch.

In Massachusetts, Guardian has arranged to work with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Wellesley, Mass., to market dental coverage along with Harvard Pilgrim medical coverage. Bay State employers who buy dental and health coverage through the program will get a discount on their dental coverage.