Protection and prevention are key to all elements of employee healthcare – and it can start with a dental plan, says Pam Whelan, head of corporate at Denplan
Recent research has shown that the top reason that children are being admitted to hospital for general anaesthetic is for extraction due to decay – it’s a sad statistic, but one that shows how important dental care is for everyone.
Denplan’s focus is on prevention – protecting the oral health of the nation and ensuring that people take a preventive approach to looking after their teeth and gums.
There is a universal benefit to having a corporate dental plan in place. Whereas a benefit such as private medical insurance is often offered as protection for worst-case scenarios, dental plans can be accessed at all times to prevent a major – and expensive – situation from arising.
There’s also the complementary aspect of maintaining good oral health, for the positive impact it has on employees’ general health and wellbeing. A routine check-up at the dentist can give an overall insight into health, oral wellbeing and general wellbeing simply from looking into your mouth – and can catch health issues before they even arise, for example illnesses such as heart disease.
It’s a big benefit of going to the dentist and maintaining good oral health: a really good opportunity to have a health M.O.T, and to take a preventive approach to health problems.
EMPLOYER COSTS AND FAMILY CONSIDERATIONS
From that point of view, then, dental plans are really key to the overall benefits package – and often now expected by employees.
Unlike some health benefits, it doesn’t have to be costly or exclusive. The expense and level of cover in a plan can be tailored to suit the company and their workforce, and can depend on the size of the company, the level of benefit they’re looking to implement, and whether they’re looking to cover the majority of the cost of dental care.
If an employer is implementing the top level of cover, perhaps as part of a flex platform, they might be expecting to invest in the £30 product – but if a company can’t afford something on that scale, they would still be able to implement a valued dental plan from as little as £4 for the entry level accidental and emergency product.
In line with the flexible nature of the plan, employers can also elect to extend cover to employees’ dependants and partners. Family cover is an area where Denplan sees a lot of engagement: it comes down to the communication with the employees, ensuring that they know it is something we want to extend to families so that they are equally adopting this preventive approach to their dental care.
Dental plans are thus one of the most highly engaged-with employee benefits, and we see it as our duty, as provider, to ensure that when we launch a product the communications are relevant, and that we fully engage with the company to understand how they talk to the employees and what mediums they use to communicate. The Denplan brand is so strong – and awareness is growing each day – that the level of engagement with employees is just terrific – which helps employers, because they’re always looking for ways to engage with the employees and implement benefits that are relevant.
We aim to encourage employees via our communications to have regular check-ups and engage with their oral hygiene, and we like to see ourselves not as a passive provider, but a proactive supporter of health and wellbeing. All our campaigns throughout the year are supportive of employers communicating the benefit of having the plan to their employees.
For example, we ran a Sugar-free September campaign, supported Stoptober in October, and are promoting November’s Mouth Cancer Awareness Month – we tie them all into the dental benefit, promote the benefit, and make sure that employees have the awareness that they’ve got the plan so they go out and use it. We also ran a television campaign to raise knowledge of the brand.
Denplan’s chief dental officer is heavily involved in Parliamentary round table meetings as part of the wider health agenda, which establishes our credibility in the industry, and shows companies that when they’re engaging with Denplan, they’re engaging with a focussed dental provider, who is driving policy as well.