Better Oral Health Leads to Savings and Better Overall Health for Employees
New York, N.Y., Jan. 23, 2018 – Most people would agree that going to the dentist every six months for a check-up will lead to better oral health and less major dental work down the road, but a new study by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) shows that companies who encourage their employees to do so can save money on their group policies. The Fifth Annual Guardian Workplace Benefits Study, Dental Benefits: A Bridge to Oral Health & Wellness, released today, finds that employers whose employees regularly use their dental benefits will see fewer claims for major and restorative work, resulting in lower premiums for employers and reduced out-of-pocket costs for employees.
As part of the Study, Guardian analyzed dental claims data from 2011-2017. Employer groups were categorized based on the utilization of preventive and major services within their companies, the groups were categorized as high preventive utilization and low preventive utilization employers. The study found that the high preventive utilization employer group spent 39 percent more on preventive care over a six-year period, but 86 percent less on major and restorative dental services. By spending more on preventive care, this high utilization group had 16 percent lower preventive and major dental claims costs than the low preventive utilization employer group.
“Encouraging employees to regularly visit their dentists not only promotes employee wellness – it can save a company money when it comes time to renew their group policy,” said Marc Costantini, Executive Vice President of Group & Worksite Markets at Guardian. “When insurers see claim costs on big-ticket items go down, there is an opportunity to lower premiums for employers and their employees.”
The Study also reveals that access to dental coverage encourages good oral health, which translates into a number of positive benefits for U.S. workers. Regular trips to the dentist can aid in early detection of potentially serious medical conditions, as more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral signs and symptoms, according to the Academy of General Dentistry.1
“Good oral health is linked to positive overall health and self-esteem,” said Dr. Randi Tillman, Chief Dental Officer at Guardian. “Regular dental visits can help with certain health needs including managing diabetes, lowering heart disease risk, and contributing to a healthy pregnancy.”
Although there are numerous benefits to good oral health, the Study finds more than one in four adults fail to go to the dentist once a year. Millennials are among the least likely to go to the dentist two times a year and cite many reasons why they don’t go to the dentist for annual check-ups, with cost as the primary reason. Four in ten adults have delayed recommended procedures, skipped exams, x-rays and tests in the past year due to higher out-of-pocket costs. These findings suggest that oral health is largely misunderstood and easily taken for granted. This is detrimental to their well-being as it can lead to an increase in out-of-pocket expenses to cover restorative procedures.
Steps to increase plan member use of preventive services
Given the positive impacts of preventive dental care for both a company’s spending and their employees’ overall well-being, employers should seek ways to help drive greater utilization of regular cleanings and exams for employees:
- Meet industry standards for preventive care benefits
- Expand your plan’s definition of preventive services
- Incentivize use of in-network providers
- Enhance plan member communication
For more information about Guardian’s workplace benefits or to view a copy of the study, please visit guardianlife.com.
The Fifth Annual Workplace Benefits Study was fielded in the Spring of 2017 and consisted of two online surveys: one among 2,000 benefits decision-makers (employers) and another among 1,700 working Americans (employees), allowing us to explore benefits issues from both perspectives.
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian) is one of the largest mutual life insurers, with $7.4 billion in capital and $1.5 billion in operating income (before taxes and dividends to policyholders) in 2016. Founded in 1860, the company has paid dividends to policyholders every year since 1868. Its offerings range from life insurance, disability income insurance, annuities, and investments to dental and vision insurance and employee benefits. The company has approximately 9,000 employees and a network of over 2,750 financial representatives in 58 agencies nationwide.