Dentist working on patient Thosewith no preventive care for at least two years were 55 percent morelikely to reach their dental plan maximum compared to those whoreceived preventive care at least once a year. (Photo:iStock)

|

We all know this intuitively: If you brush and floss your teethdaily and regularly visit the dentist for a check-up and aprofessional cleaning, you might just not need that dreaded rootcanal.

|

Moreover, employees and employer will likelypay less in dental insurance claims for more serious treatments,sums up Guardian's research brief, “An ounce of prevention.”

|

The brief cites Guardian's 5th Annual Workplace Benefits Study,“Dental Benefits: A Bridge to Oral Health & Wellness,” whichfound that employer groups with higher utilization of preventivedental care over a six-year period experienced an 86 percentreduction in the use of major dental services in subsequent years,for a net savings of 16 percent on dental claims costs.

|

Related: 5 best, 5 worst states for dentalhealth

|

Dental plan members also saved when getting a check-up andcleaning at least once a year, according to the study. Theyrequired less major dental services and, as a result, had lowerout-of-pocket costs over a three-year period.

|

Those who did this for two years in a row had a $90 decrease inclaim costs in the third year. However, members with no preventivecare experienced an average increase of $720 in claim costs.

|

“Many working Americans believe that if they brush their teethand have no pain, then there is no need to see the dentist,” theauthors write. “But Guardian's recent analysis of claims data showsthat plan members who receive at least annual preventive care aremore likely to avoid serious oral health problems that require morecostly treatment in later years.”

|

The study also found that those with no preventive care for atleast two years were 55 percent more likely to reach their dentalplan maximum compared to those who received preventive care atleast once a year. Moreover, about one in four plan members (23percent) who reach their annual maximum tend to reach it again thefollowing year, and 7 percent hit the maximum in three or moreconsecutive years.

|

On average, plan members' dental claim costs are four timeshigher in years when they hit their annual maximum, according tothe study.

|

“Dental plan designs with greater coverage tend to encouragehigher utilization of preventive care,” the authors write. “Memberswhose dental plans have more allowances for preventive carebenefits, as well as higher co-insurance levels and lower copays,are more likely to receive an annual exam/cleaning compared tothose in more limited dental plans.”

|

Conversely, plans with higher out-of-pocket costs and reducedbenefits cause many individuals to skip or delay routine check-upsand cleanings.

|

“Dental benefit programs that encourage at least annual exams,cleanings and x-rays can positively impact preventive careutilization and ultimately support a healthier and happierworkforce,” the authors write. “An ounce of dental care preventioncertainly creates a valuable win-win for employers and theiremployees.”

|

Read more: 

 

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to BenefitsPRO, part of your ALM digital membership.

  • Critical BenefitsPRO information including cutting edge post-reform success strategies, access to educational webcasts and videos, resources from industry leaders, and informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM, BenefitsPRO magazine and BenefitsPRO.com events
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including ThinkAdvisor.com and Law.com
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience, with particular expertise in employee benefits and other human resource topics.