At large U.S. employers, 2010 dental benefits may be similar to what the employees have now.
The dental benefits experts who are making the forecasts say typical large employers have already designed their 2010 dental benefits programs.
Because dental plan enrollees are afraid of losing their dental benefits, “utilization is up a little bit,” and, because of layoffs, “average case size is down,” says Dr. James Gimarelli, vice president of dental at Assurant Employee Benefits, Kansas City, Mo.
Back in the 1990s, asking for a 15% increase on dental renewal rates was common, Gimarelli says. “Now,” he says, “it’s hard to get 5%.”
But insurers have been marketing dental coverage heavily this summer, and experts say dental has been a welcome island of stability.
Most of the time, “dental plans change slowly,” says Dr. Marvin Zatz, a national dental consultant in the Parsippany, N.J., office of Towers Perrin Forster & Crosby.
Dental insurer executives are wrestling with questions such as, “How will we handle implants?” while executives in some other sectors are still not entirely sure whether their sectors will still continue to exist.
But most employers with dental plans for current employees are keeping the plans, and the kinds of larger employers that Towers Perrin advises are increasing the typical annual maximum to about $1,500, up from $1,250 a few years ago, Zatz says.