Eighty-seven percent of Illinois adults say their oral health is very important to them 1 and more than two-thirds of employees consider dental benefits to be a very important part of an overall compensation package.2
Yet many small business owners do not offer dental benefits. That short-term decision can negatively affect both the small business and its employees in the long run.
For example, a lack of dental benefits can jeopardize employee recruitment and retention. It can also hamper employee productivity and health. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans missed work due to oral health concerns in 2016.3 While this number has declined, missed work hours and health issues could be mitigated with regular dental visits, and Illinoisans with dental coverage are 58 percent more likely to visit the dentist.4
Offering dental benefits is a smart business decision, but it’s not always easy. In fact, small business owners say offering competitive compensation and benefits will be one of the most challenging issues for them in 2019, according to a national study of small business owners.5
To help with this challenge, here are some tips for small businesses to consider when selecting a dental benefit plan or carrier to offer their employees:
- Strong nationwide network: Look for an experienced dental carrier that provides access to a strong nationwide network that will result in high employee network usage. A good benchmark is network usage of 65 to 80 percent. Employees who see network dentists enjoy discounts and other network protections. Network usage translates into cost savings for the employer, too.
- Flexibility in plan design: Choose a dental carrier that provides a range of plan options, so you can find one that makes sense for you and your business. Often, small groups have limited options in customizing plans to fit their needs. Select a carrier that offers flexibility in plan design (such as deductibles, maximums and covering orthodontics) to allow your small business to have a plan as comprehensive as you’d like at a cost that you and your employees can afford. Additionally, look for a carrier that offers voluntary plans, which allow your employees to take advantage of lower group rates and can be provided at little or no cost to your company.
- Rate guarantees: Find a carrier that offers rate guarantees — something that is not always afforded to smaller groups. Such rate guarantees are unique and can help to provide financial consistency for your small business — which gives you one less thing to worry about.
- Excellent customer service and innovative technology: Make sure a dental carrier provides excellent customer service and innovative technology solutions through web and mobile applications to help resolve issues quickly and efficiently. A carrier should have a local team for both you and your employees, providing you the support you need so you can focus on running your business. Also, look for a carrier with a high client retention rate, which is a good indicator of a strong partner.
- Focus on wellness: It also is important that a carrier has a commitment to improving the oral health of its members. The carrier should offer programs that support you in empowering your employees to make the most of their dental plan and achieve good overall health and overall well-being. Ask the carrier for examples of materials and tools they use to help demonstrate the value good oral health.
Make a commitment to offer dental benefits – something employees want and value – and choose a carrier who will work for you and your employees. Choosing the right dental carrier can help you better manage health care costs for your business. It can also help employees get even more out of their benefits – and contribute to productivity and overall well-being.
1 2018 Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey conducted by Kelton, a leading global insights firm. Interviews were conducted statewide via email with 305 Illinois adults. The margin of error was plus or minus 5.6 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.
3 2017 Delta Dental Oral Health Survey
4 2018 Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey