Get access to the exclusive HR Resources you need to succeed in 2018.
Sign up for free email newsletters and get more SHRM content delivered to your inbox.
Is your employee handbook keeping up with the changing world of work? With SHRM's Employee Handbook Builder get peace of mind that your handbook is up-to-date.
Build competencies, establish credibility and advance your career—while earning PDCs—at SHRM Seminars in 14 cities across the U.S. this fall.
Gain the skills you need to rise to the next level in your career. Jon us at SHRM's Leadership Development Forum, October 2-3 in Boston.
A quarter of adults with coverage skip preventive dental care
Members may download one copy of our sample forms and templates for your personal use within your organization. Please note that all such forms and policies should be reviewed by your legal counsel for compliance with applicable law, and should be modified to suit your organization’s culture, industry, and practices. Neither members nor non-members may reproduce such samples in any other way (e.g., to republish in a book or use for a commercial purpose) without SHRM’s permission. To request permission for specific items, click on the “reuse permissions” button on the page where you find the item.
Having a healthier mouth contributes to having a healthier body, yet a study of U.S. consumers by insurance provider Cigna found that more than one-fourth of adults with dental coverage don’t take full advantage of their preventive care benefits. Employers should encourage them to do so.
Cigna's October 2014 report,
Why People with Dental Insurance Skip Oral Health Checkups, draws onasurvey of 500 men and women, ages 26 to 64, throughout the U.S. who have dental insurance but fail to go for dental checkups twice a year.
Despite typical dental plans covering preventive checkups every six months, some people are avoiding getting any care during the year because of concerns about out-of-pocket costs or, significantly, a fear of the dentist (often due to past, painful experiences). Others, particularly those who only see the dentist annually, say they don’t feel the need to get checked more frequently because their teeth don’t hurt.
“Absence of pain does not mean absence of problems. It is important that we help individuals overcome the barriers to obtaining preventive dental care that the study identified,” said Miles Hall, Cigna Dental’s chief clinical director, in remarks accompanying the survey results. “The longer the wait between dental visits, the more likely a problem will develop. Often more complicated problems are more expensive to treat, leading to the very situation that consumers want to avoid,” he noted.
The findings point to missed opportunities for people to get more value from their dental insurance, given that most plans cover in-network preventive care visits every six months with no or low out-of-pocket costs. Preventive care services can include an exam, teeth cleaning and certain x-rays.
“There appears to be some confusion about what is preventive care versus treatment,” Hall said. “Those who are unsure should ask their dentist or insurer about the specifics of their plan. Regular dental checkups can have big rewards—healthier teeth and gums throughout your life.” Moreover, having even one dental checkup a year can make a difference. Those who had one exam during the year were nearly twice as likely to report their oral health as very good or excellent compared to those who failed to go at all, the study found.
Promoting Dental Health
“Since self-reported oral health declines significantly with age, the study reinforces the importance of sustaining good dental habits,” Hall said. He suggested providing employees with clearly stated information about the scope of their dental coverage, along with information to help alleviate their concerns—for instance, communicating that:
• Dentists and hygienists are trained professionals familiar with patient fears and can help ease concerns about pain.
• Dental offices continue to make technological advances in equipment and treatments so that procedures often take less time, with less discomfort.
Cigna has posted a short video that can be shared with employees, “Getting the Most from Your Dental Benefits,” which addresses fears about seeing a dentist and points out the long-term value of oral care.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him on Twitter
Related SHRM Articles:
Dental Benefits Evolve in an Exchange-Driven World,
SHRM Online Benefits, October 2013
Costs of Routine Dental Services Vary Widely,
SHRM Online Benefits, October 2011
Dental Benefits Undervalued Without Effective Communication,
SHRM Online Benefits, August 2009
You have successfully saved this page as a bookmark.
Please confirm that you want to proceed with deleting bookmark.
You have successfully removed bookmark.
Please log in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please sign in as a SHRM member before saving bookmarks.
Please purchase a SHRM membership before saving bookmarks.
An error has occurred
CA Resources at Your Fingertips
SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 10,000 companies