Similar to health care benefits, there are many types of dental benefits that an employer can offer to the workforce. From managed plans and self-pay options to traditional PPO and dental HMO plans, the choices are vast. With all the available options, deciding on a benefit can sometimes be difficult.
So, what can organizations do to select the best dental plan for employees so they actually use the benefit? Is offering several options a good practice? Here’s what you and your colleagues need to know.
Dental Insurance Is Often Not Used Enough
One of the main problems that benefit plan administrators see with dental benefits has to do more with actual use, rather than enrollment. Many employees don’t fully utilize their dental benefits for one reason or another. Often, it’s because they don’t take the time to understand what the benefits can do for them, or they put off dental care in general.
According to the American Dental Association, there is a significant reduction in the number of major claims when employees regularly use their dental insurance—which helps reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs for employees. It’s a win-win for everyone if employees enroll and then use their dental coverage.
A 3-Step Plan for Designing Better Dental Wellness
Employers can help encourage employees to make use of their dental benefits. The Society for Human Resource Management 2018 Employee Benefits survey indicates that 92 percent of employees say benefits are “important to their overall job satisfaction.” Therefore, it’s critical that organizational leaders take the time to design benefit offerings that are meaningful to employees. Here are three simple steps to accomplish this:
Review. Part of the job of managing benefits is sitting down at least once a year to analyze their successes or failures. Ask the following questions: What benefits are being utilized and what benefits are being ignored by employees? Is there low enrollment in the current dental options? Has there been any feedback shared by employees about the plans? Is enrollment high, but participation/usage low?
Revise. Use the information gathered during the review phase to make the appropriate changes to benefits for the upcoming plan year. Compare dental insurance options, providers and costs carefully. If employees are in need of varying degrees of dental care at affordable price points, giving them a choice of at least two plans is wise.
Report. The final phase of the benefits design process is to report the changes to employees. A good communication strategy—that highlights the new dental plan(s) and encourages employees to enroll—can get the workforce interested in participating. Keep the communication going with a year-long promotion of the dental plans as well as ongoing conversations about how to use them for good oral care and personal health.
Offering Several Options in Dental Insurance
Just as employers typically offer more than one health insurance plan, it can be a good idea to offer more than one dental insurance option to your fellow employees. These days, organizations have diverse, multi-generational populations, which means workers are at different stages in their lives (and oral health).
Some employees will be looking specifically at insurance that covers the basics and keeps costs low, while others may need specialized dental care that requires a higher level plan that costs a little more. Evaluate where your employees are and offer plans that address these needs. Also, be mindful of local providers who may—or may not—accept all dental insurance. This can require creative options like discount dental plans or arranging a corporate discount that workers can use.
Remember, employees are more likely to use their dental benefits if they are well-educated on the value and positive impact it can have on their health. It’s wise to try and keep costs affordable, but also communicate how to get the most from dental insurance so it isn’t wasting money.
Looking to learn more strategies for managing employee dental benefit programs and helping your colleagues make the most of these perks? Check out the Employer Toolkit on United Concordia Dental’s website.