Navigating Benefits

Is a Large Dental Network the Best Choice for Your Organization?

  • One of the best ways to encourage colleagues to care for their oral health is by offering a large dental network

  • Not only should a dental network be expansive, it should also offer a diverse array of options

  • A higher utilization rate may occur with a large dental network, as employees have the opportunity to expand their choice of dentists

Posted by March 23, 2019

Once again, open enrollment is right around the corner, and you’ve been tasked with analyzing last year’s benefits and adjusting for the year ahead. But which benefits should receive top-bill stature?

According to Lincoln Financial’s Dental Research Series, 82 percent of consumers believe that dental insurance is a “very important” employee benefit—yet most individuals underutilize this perk. One of the ways your organization can encourage employees to be more oral health-minded is by providing access to a large dental network.

Here’s why it’s worth considering, as well as the pros and cons of offering this to your colleagues, with expert insight from veteran human resource professionals.

Why Would a Business Want a Large Dental Network?

Benefits help to both attract new talent and keep current employees from seeking new jobs, so it’s important to put effort into developing a dynamic (and robust) benefits plan. A network with numerous available options provides employees the opportunity to use their own practitioners—the dentists and specialists who are already familiar with their teeth and treatment plans.

However, some companies have specialized needs, and in certain situations a large network is a necessity, not simply an added benefit. For example, employees who commute from far away or work remotely won’t be making appointments with a dentist near the headquarter office. They’ll need a bigger network to find care in their own areas.

“Patients may also require the service of specialized dentists such as oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists, orthodontists and prosthodontists, so the network needs to be diverse as well,” explained Susan Hosage, senior consultant at OneSource HR Solutions. “If the network isn’t robust, patients may stop regular visits. That could lead to bigger dental problems or even health-related issues that result from compromised oral care.”

The Pros of Offering a Large Dental Network

According to Robin Schwartz, human resources director at Career Igniter, offering a large network of dentists can give your colleagues the ability to choose a provider that is convenient to them.

“Dental appointments can be arranged to fit the employee’s schedule and in a location of their choosing,” Schwartz said. “This often results in employees spending less time traveling to and from a dental appointment, reducing the time they’re out of the office.”

In addition, a higher utilization rate may occur with a large dental network because employees have the opportunity to expand their choice of dentists—even if they’re all local. As patients may visit several dentists before finding the one they prefer most, choice is crucial.

The Potential Cons of a Large Network

Are there really any cons of providing your colleagues with a robust group of dental practitioners to choose from? Unfortunately, yes.

Schwartz pointed out a few concerns that employers should consider, including cost. “The downside of offering a large network of dentists may be choice overload; sometimes, having too many choices complicates what should be a fairly simple decision,” she noted. “You may need to consider if having a larger network of dentists is also [worth] an added cost.”

Making changes to benefit packages isn’t always easy, so consider holding meetings with coworkers or circulating surveys to gauge what benefits your fellow employees truly value (and which ones they never use). By asking pointed questions about their needs, you can have a much better chance at keeping everyone happy and healthy with the new plan.

Thinking of increasing the size of the dental network your organization offers to employees? Check out the Dental Plan Navigator tool on United Concorida Dental’s website to find the perfect package.

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