Good dental care has wider implications for broader staff health and wellbeing

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Kirsty Jagielko, Head of marketing, Cigna

In today’s market, being able to offer a comprehensive employee benefits package is essential for attracting and retaining top talent. Healthcare benefits are the foundation of any benefit program design. Whether you’re implementing a dental plan for the first time or you’re considering changing your current provider, following these tips can help you choose the right dental plan for your company – and your employees.

Identify business benefits

Whatever your specific people needs, dental plans can bring advantages for your business. If you’re actively recruiting talent, offering a dental plan as part of an attractive benefits package can help your organisation to stand out from the competition as an employer of choice. In many cases, supplementing an existing employee benefits package with a dental plan can be an affordable alternative to offering compensation increases to help aid employee retention. Employers are increasingly realising that a dental plan can play a key role in helping to maintain a healthy and engaged workforce.

A comprehensive health and wellbeing strategy addresses your employees’ physical, emotional and financial needs. The benefits of a comprehensive dental plan extend beyond helping employees to maintain good oral health. Research shows that preventative dentistry can also help limit the risk of various chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. Dental problems can also disrupt proper nutrition and sleep quality, which can impact a person’s overall wellbeing. Having a dental plan encourages people to address oral health problems early on. And dental plans provide a value-for-money proposition, helping to reduce the worry of incurring costly treatment charges. By helping to address these needs, your business saves time and money that may otherwise be lost in absenteeism and poor productivity.

Consider employee demographics

Employee demographics such as age, family status and location should be considered when selecting a dental plan. Many businesses today have employees in the Sandwich generation – those employees who are in their thirties or forties and responsible for supporting their own children and providing care for their ageing parents. These responsibilities can cause financial strain and stress which, in turn, can have workplace performance and productivity implications.

Cigna recently extended its dental cover offering to specifically help meet the needs of those in the Sandwich Generation. With family cover, employees can opt to add family members, including parents, parents-in-law and/or adult children. They can also tailor the level of cover to suit individual needs; for example, the level of cover an employee chooses for him or herself may vary from the level of cover selected for a family member.

Understanding local dental charges specific to employee location helps determine a suitable level of cover. By conducting local research and soliciting feedback from employees at each office location about access to an NHS dentist and cost of a private check-up, you’ll be able to identify the level or levels of cover best suited for your business from your chosen provider.

Choose the right service provider

When considering the right dental plan for your business, it’s important not to make a decision based on price and benefit offering alone. Additional factors such as rate stability, ease of administration, customer service and company reputation should be considered. For example, you’ll want to ensure that, in addition to comprehensive benefits, employees will be able to benefit from a simple claims process, and you can be assured of ease of billing and enrolment.

You should also consider additional plan features. Some providers, such as Cigna, offer discounted dental cover, where members can enjoy a 20% discount on treatments provided by a provider within a registered network of dentists. This includes a discount on treatments, such a cosmetic teeth whitening, not covered under the plan. Cigna also offers a full cover feature which guarantees no shortfalls for covered treatments.

Finally, it’s important to talk to providers about how they increase employee awareness of plans offered and the selection process. Dental specific communications throughout the plan year can help encourage ongoing engagement and plan utilisation.

Implementing a dental plan doesn’t have to be complicated or even expensive. Following these steps can help you determine what you want to provide and which provider can help meet your business needs.

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