More Employers Offering Dental Benefits

September 15, 2011 ( - More employers are offering separate dental plans than ever before, according to the National Association of Dental (NADP) Plans 2011 Group Purchaser Behavior Study.

The study found dental coverage is purchased as a separate policy most often from a stand-alone carrier (59%) with a decline in dental policies purchased “in a package” from a medical carrier and its dental affiliate, subsidiary or partner. In selecting a new dental carrier for dental coverage, respondents said cost is the most important factor.  

The most important reasons companies cited for offering dental benefits are employee requests, dental health impacts overall health, and affordability. Most employers (96%) believe dental benefits are an “essential” or a “differentiating” factor in the recruitment and retention of employees, consistent with data from 2008.  

The ACA includes “pediatric oral services” as part of the Essential Health Benefits Package to be offered in small group and individual market; however, according to the study separate dental and vision benefits will continue to be purchased outside of the Exchange by 69% of all companies, a press release said. While many employers are uncertain, in employer groups of 100 or less (those initially eligible to use Exchanges), 21% are not likely to continue dental coverage outside of Exchanges. Additionally, an estimated 40% of companies with 100 employees or less indicate they are likely to purchase health benefits through the Exchange.   

The study noted increases in the percentage of employers offering dental benefits in every geographic region and in all size categories — most notably with companies with 25 to 100 employees. Of those companies with dental benefits, there was an increase in dental PPO products and declines in dental HMO, traditional Indemnity plans, and Discount Dental plans. Since 2008 employers are also asking employees to contribute more to their own dental coverage.