Navigating Benefits

The Benefits of Stand-Alone Dental Plans


  • Dental benefits offered through a medical plan are usually limited to surgical procedures or have restricted coverage

  • Stand-alone dental plans offer a broad range of covered services, stable rates and flexibility for companies and employees, allowing them to choose a plan that best fits their needs

  • The comprehensive dental coverage found in stand-alone plans encourages employees to utilize their coverage, lessening the need for costly treatments

Posted by February 20, 2019

Corporate insurance offerings have changed a lot in the last several decades. The National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) reports that 164.2 million Americans currently have private dental coverage, with 90 percent of the coverage provided by an employer or another group program. In addition, it was found that 7 percent of people purchase individual dental coverage and only 3 percent obtain their coverage as a part of their medical insurance.

If your company has been providing dental benefits through a medical plan, there are a number of reasons why stand-alone dental plans may be more advantageous for both you and your colleagues. Here’s what you need to know if you’re looking to update your organization’s benefit offerings.

Characteristics of Combined Medical and Dental Plans

Before dental plans became their own entity (as they are today), medical plans frequently provided benefits for select dental services, especially when they could be defined as surgical procedures. This is why some medical plans still pay for the removal of teeth when the extractions are surgical in nature as well as provide benefits for the general anesthesia. However, these benefits are likely not payable by the medical insurance if the person has a separate dental plan that covers surgical procedures and anesthesia.

Alternatively, some employers provide staff with medical insurance that comes along with a separate dental plan. This type of arrangement may offer coverage beyond what a medical plan would provide otherwise, but the disadvantage is that benefits may be limited.

For instance, only preventive procedures may be covered or the plan may be a discount program, where employees must see a participating dentist in order to be charged the discounted fee. Another potential con is that is if the company switches to a different medical insurance company, employees would lose the associated dental coverage and possibly have to change dentists if a different network is involved.

Advantages of Stand-Alone Dental Plans

Today, most employers have found that offering employees a dental plan that’s totally independent of their medical insurance not only attracts talent to the labor force, but boosts the dental health (and general wellness) of those already working for the company. Stand-alone group plans have premiums that are separate from medical insurance and provide comprehensive benefits at a reasonable cost. In fact, the NADP says that the cost of dental coverage is typically less than a daily cup of coffee, and these plans have more rate stability than medical plans.

Benefits cover preventive appointments, fillings, root canals and periodontal procedures as well as extractions and other surgical treatments. Additionally, many plans include orthodontic benefits. Wide-ranging coverage that reduces out-of-pocket expenses typically encourages employees to use their plan.

On the other hand, having no explicit dental coverage (or a combined medical-dental plan) often results in people avoiding the dentist for regular preventive treatment. They tend to only seek care when problems are serious or painful and then opt for extractions and/or dentures. This costs more money over time, and can negatively affect an individual’s long-term overall health.

For instance, people without dental coverage usually have a higher risk of developing heart disease, osteoporosis and diabetes compared to those who have ample coverage and see a dentist regularly. Employer-sponsored group dental plans offer flexibility, allowing the company and the employee to choose options that meet their needs both financially and physically.

Making the Switch

As you can see, there are a number of benefits to offering stand-alone plans. Are you considering updating your organization’s benefit offerings this year? If so—and you think that a stand-alone dental plan might have all of the advantages you are looking for—check out the Navigating Benefits page on United Concordia Dental’s website to find a dental plan that is the right fit for your company and colleagues.

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