Dental Insurance - What the experts don't tell youPosted on: 07 February 2012 by Dean Laley
Dean Laley on dental health and value for money treatment
Dental treatment: it's expensive, right? Well, not as much as you might think. In fact, the range of prices for dental treatment can vary rather wildly. The problem is how to find the best value treatment and the most affordable way of paying for it.
Which?, the consumer rights organisation, investigated this in 2010 and came up with some interesting results. They called over 400 private dental practices to check prices and discovered a huge range of costs: an initial check-up for example could cost anything from £45 to £124. (1)
This survey was one of the things that prompted the Office for Fair Trading (OFT) to examine the whole dental market, both private and NHS, in more detail to discover if competition is really working and whether it is giving best value to us, the customer.
The insurer, Simplyhealth (who as their name suggests are primarily health insurers) in their 2011 annual dental survey said that some 40% of the 10,000 people surveyed said they had been put off having regular dental check-ups by the cost. (2)
The off-putting cost of dental treatment, if it does indeed put us off going for treatment, has an impact on our working life and business. MetLife, another insurer, in their 2011 study of employee benefit trends found that nearly half (49%) of employees surveyed considered Dental Cover to be in the top 5 of their benefits, with 24% placing it in the top 3. (2)
A survey by Health Insurance Magazine highlights the confusion that can surround dental treatment, with opinion amongst both brokers and dental benefit providers being that individuals and businesses lack reliable resources to make an informed choice. (3)
The magazine's survey goes on to reveal that cost factors are starting to have a real impact on employees' dental treatment, with, most worryingly, 40% of employees said that they would cancel an appointment for necessary dental treatment on cost grounds, something which has the potential to compromise their oral and overall health and wellbeing.(3) In turn, this could compromise work attendance and performance, something companies will be very concerned about.
So what to do? The answer could lie with employers and the inclusion of dental plans as part of an employee benefits scheme. Dental insurance can provide both a financial safety net for employees as well as being an affordable and valuable benefit.
Dental insurance is something companies are increasingly considering. What stops some of those companies from going ahead, however, seems to be finding the expertise to put exactly the right plan in place. An interesting thing that a survey of their clients conducted by dental benefits provider Denplan found was that for most companies, the key purchasing criteria for dental plans were simplicity of product (67%) with price and broker recommendation also being important considerations. (4)
Denplan, in their 2010 survey of company attitudes to employee benefits showed that 66% of companies said that value for money was more important for them in 2010 than it had been in the previous year. (4)
Opting to use a broker can provide many advantages, particularly for smaller companies, which in many cases are the most likely to benefit from the expertise. The likely reason for this is that smaller companies are less likely to have dedicated Human Resources staff to look after benefits. If this is the case for your company, consider using an employee benefits adviser to find the best plan for you and your employees.
2. Simply Health
3. HI Magazine
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