Results of a new study suggest that one in four employees who have dental insurance aren’t using their benefits due to concerns about cost. Specifically, the study found that the employees had forgone routine dental cleanings and check-ups in the past 12 months – even though these services are generally covered by dental insurance – suggesting that there is a lack of understanding about what these benefits include.
In the survey, which was conducted by benefits provider Lincoln Financial Group, the majority of employees reported that dental coverage was a “must have” benefit, but half of those surveyed indicated that their employee had not provided adequate information about what these benefits include.
In the survey, 65 percent of employees wanted their company to provide general information about what’s covered by their dental insurance plan, 54 percent indicated that they would appreciate an employee-provided list of local in-network dentists, and 34 percent would like ratings or rankings or those in-network dentists.
While dental anxiety can keep some people from seeking out care, misperceptions about the cost of routine dental services also serves as a significant deterrent, particularly for employees who have higher deductibles as part of their benefits plans.
However, Scott Towers, president of the dental division at insurance provider Anthem, notes that under more than 90 percent of dental plans, diagnostic and preventive treatment are fully covered outside of a deductible. Further, most plans now have a $50 individual deductible and a $1500 annual maximum.
Towers further notes that while some employees worry that a dental visit will reveal a need for treatment that they will then have to pay under that deductible, use of the fully-covered “appropriate preventative dental services ensure that less serious and invasive procedures are needed down the road, especially for adults running into periodontal issues.”
To get the message across, Towers recommends that employers make use of the latest interactive tools, online apps and other digital platforms that help explain dental coverage and provide links to the types of information that employees want most, namely information about the cost of treatment and links to in-network providers (often times with reviews!) Health coaches or care managers may also be available under some treatment plans and can provide more in-depth information about the benefits of routine dental care.
To review the full study, please click here.