According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute’s annual report, poor wellness and prevention habits are once again expected to drive up medical costs in 2019.
Rising health care costs and high utilization of benefits have plagued employers for years. At first, wellness programs seemed promising with its health-conscious workforce, but the return on investment for these programs has also presented some challenges. So how can employers win this ongoing cost battle for healthy, productive employees?
One important way to improve wellness is to promote good oral and vision habits. Dental and vision insurance promote preventive care and contribute to overall health and wellness. These benefits help pay for services typically not covered by private medical plans, filling the coverage gap to maintain oral and eye health. More importantly, routine dental and vision exams may help decrease the number of claims from other more costly plans.
Brokers should encourage their clients and employees to consider the value of their entire benefits package when making decisions about coverage. Dental and vision benefits improve overall wellness, reducing some health risks and potentially the utilization of disability benefits and other supplemental health plans, such as critical-illness and hospital insurance.
1. Why is good oral health important?
We often think of dental health as separate from physical health, but it plays a major role in our overall wellness. It’s associated with some serious medical conditions and diseases, including heart disease, stroke and premature birth. Regular dental exams can reveal early signs of oral cancer, heart disease and other diseases associated with oral health, making them easier to treat and control.
Our mouths are teeming with bacteria, and without proper oral hygiene and routine care, that bacteria can lead to oral infections and gum disease. Medical studies suggest that gum diseases like periodontitis can contribute to the development of conditions like endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart, (Mayo Clinic, 2016).
Routine dental visits can detect oral health problems early when treatment is likely simpler and more affordable, according to the American Dental Association. By contrast, lack of oral health care can mean a much later diagnosis and often a more aggressive treatment. For example, oral cancer tends to have a much higher death rate than cervical, thyroid or skin cancer, because it is routinely discovered far into its progression (Oral Cancer Foundation, 2017).