Dental benefits have remained virtually the same as dental services have expanded. This was likely a strategy to keep costs as low as possible.
As the economy has improved, expanded benefits are becoming more readily available from dental carriers, and people are beginning to notice that their current dental benefits don’t stretch very far.
Here are a handful of interesting changes in dental coverage that you may want to consider at your next renewal:
- Many carriers have made annual maximum rollovers available for an additional fee. This feature rolls over a portion of the member’s unused annual maximum. Most carriers require that the member get their routine cleanings to qualify for this.
- Humana pioneered their innovative program called the extended annual maximum, which continues to pay 30 percent towards the cost of any dental care even after the annual limit has been used. The advantage of this benefit is that it’s available right away.
- Most plans will cover white fillings up to the cost of an amalgam filling (i.e., silver), but you can also request an option to cover these fillings without a cutback to the benefit. The other advantage is that white fillings allow tooth decay to be monitored by X-ray.
- A few carriers have introduced products with a dental/vision shared annual limit. Budget-conscious employees are sure to like these programs.
- The highest annual limit we’ve seen so far in the small group market is $2,500. I believe we’ll see these climb higher to cover more of the cost of high-end dentistry, like implants, while lower cost alternatives, such as dentures, have become less desirable.
- There is a national shortage of dentists, particularly specialists like oral surgeons, orthodontists, and endodontists. Furthermore, many dentists are joining management companies with multiple locations, gaining leverage for negotiations. This means that a dentist can obtain patients without the steerage of being in a network. As a result, most groups are seeking higher non-network reimbursements. One carrier now offers up to the 99th percentile on reimbursements.
As you can see, if you haven’t shopped your dental coverage lately, there are some nifty solutions out there.
If any catch your eye, let your ARC representative know so they can share some of these options at your next renewal as a way to entice and retain employees.