With the rising costs of health care, it’s harder than ever for employers to make room in the budget for additional employee benefits. Recognizing this, dental carriers have made voluntary dental plans easier for employers to implement, with more robust features.
A voluntary dental plan, where employees pay the costs of coverage, is one way to add tremendous value to an employee benefit program without increasing employers’ benefit costs. As is typical with voluntary benefits, employees are not required to participate in the plan, although the group must meet minimum participation requirements to be eligible for coverage.
With the growing enhancements to voluntary dental plans by carriers, now is a great time to consider offering this benefit to business clients. Dental plans that were generally limited to larger employer groups are now being offered to smaller groups with participation requirements as low as 10 employees or 35% of all employees.
A good voluntary dental plan is backed by a quality carrier, provides excellent claim and customer service and offers flexible plan designs.
Value to employees
There’s no doubt that employees want dental plans. This coverage is one of the most highly requested benefits. In 2007, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 77% of employees participated in a dental plan offered by their employer; while 76% participated in an employer-provided medical plan.
It’s easy to see why employees recognize the importance of taking part in a dental plan provided through their employer–even if they have to pay for it. Once voluntary dental is installed, the employer will almost always see participation levels increase every year.
As with health care insurance, employees feel they need dental insurance more urgently than most other benefits, such as life and disability insurance. A recent survey by the American Dental Association found most adults had seen a dentist within the past year. In fact, 49.4% said they last saw a dentist less than 6 months ago, while an additional 20.5% saw one between 6 months and a year ago.
As a further boost to participation levels, employees who purchase voluntary dental are highly likely to cover dependents, knowing that each family member will need to visit the dentist at least once or twice a year.
The high cost of dental care is just one incentive for getting coverage through the employer. Another is convenience. Individual coverage does not come with the service support that is standard with a group plan. Amenities like automatic payroll deduction, personalized enrollment and the combined support of a benefits administrator and a carrier’s own customer-service professionals are important to plan members, especially when they are footing the bill.
Another plus is that the typical voluntary dental plan offers a choice among a variety of designs, similar to those afforded by fully insured or contributory plans. These range from traditional indemnity plans to participating provider organization plans.