UBP blog


Don’t you wish there was a dental insurance time machine?

So, you have a pretty bad toothache and you decide to have it checked out. You go to your dentist and find out it was a very good idea you did because guess what? You need a root canal.

Now, we all know two things for sure about root canals:

  1. They’re painful
  2. They cost a lot of money

The pain is something you’re going to have to deal with no matter what but the cost, well that’s a whole separate beast to tackle. This is especially true when you just enrolled in dental insurance a month ago and the waiting period to get a root canal is 12 months.

Now, if only you had a dental insurance time machine. That way, you could go back to a year ago, enroll in the plan and you would be able to afford your root canal today.

Unfortunately, time machines are only real in the movies, so that’s not an option. A few real options for you are:

  1. Get your root canal now and pay your dentist’s usual rate for it all out of pocket: It’ll cost you a lot of money and you won’t really be able to budget for it, plus he has his own rate and who knows how much it is?  It’s not like your dentists posts a menu of services with prices like a restaurant.
  2. Suffer for another 11 months until your insurance will cover it

So, what will you do?

Another (smart and affordable) option:

Luckily there’s a third option for people in need of immediate, affordable dental care—a discount dental plan. 

Currently, there are 40 million Americans without dental insurance and so many of them are delaying dental care, all because of cost. However, according to the American Dental Association, the best remedy against the high cost of dentistry is prevention.

Discount dental plans are unique because they provide immediate access to affordable dental care (for just a nominal monthly rate) to anyone who needs it. Perhaps your company doesn’t offer dental insurance or maybe you’re looking for a valuable voluntary benefit to offer your part-timers.

For many clients in the nonprofit sector, Universal Benefit Plans offers free employee membership to Universal Dental Plan. With this membership, our clients’ employees (whether they’re benefits eligible or not) get immediate, guaranteed 20-50% discounted rates on all dental procedures—from cleanings to crowns, even cosmetic work.  Even better, there is a published rate sheet for dental procedures that all participating dentists charge,  so you know the cost before you go to your dentist.

They also have:

  • No Claim forms
  • No Deductibles
  • No Annual Maximums (or limits on the number of procedures they can have each year)
  • No waiting periods for anything

 If you’re looking for a new way to show your employees how much you value them and help them keep a bright healthy smile for years to come, give us a call at (617) 859-1777 and see if you qualify. Or you can visit the Universal Dental Plan website at www.universaldentalplan.com.



3 ways to enhance your dental plan’s value through communication

For employers who want to improve the value of their dental benefits, making plan changes is just part of the solution. Effective communication is the next step, and this means providing employees with the meaningful information and tools necessary to understand both their dental benefits and oral health risks.

According to a recent MetLife survey, only 1 in 5 employees know what their dental insurance does and does not cover. This lack of employee knowledge oftentimes results from lackluster employer communication of dental benefit offerings.

The following are three ways employers can enhance their communication of employees’ dental benefits.

   1.      Promote the importance of oral health and educate employee on oral health risks.

Data from MetLife’s survey also revealed that just 9% of employees believe they have beneficial information on oral health available to them. Yet, 28% of employees believe that this information would be of value in helping them understand dental benefit offerings. Employees who know most about their oral health are the ones that are most likely to utilize their plan’s covered dental services.

To educate employees on oral health and oral health risks, employers can create a pamphlet, memo or web resource, distribute it to employees and also make it readily available for them to access on a later date. 

   2.      Provide complete information on employee coverage.

The survey data also shows that only 35% of employees feel that they have all the information they need to make the best decision on their dental coverage. This means employers have a huge opportunity to educate the remaining 65% of employees with complete coverage information. That way, all employees will understand their benefit offerings, appreciate them and have fewer surprises about what is and is not covered when they get their Explanations of Benefits.

  3.      When communicating benefits, use multiple resource

Most employers believe that email and the company website are the most effective tools for communicating employee benefits. Although these tools are great ones to use, employers should not stop there.

Employers should also develop alternative ways to educate their employees on their benefits, dental benefits included. In-person and online seminars  as well as oral risk assessment tools are just a couple of the resources employers can use to round out their dental benefits education.

By applying these three methods, employees will feel the value of the dental benefits you are providing. As a result, their understanding and appreciation of the dental benefits they’re offered will grow.


Waiting periods, a major pain with traditional dental insurance

When you enroll in a traditional dental insurance plan, they tell you that your coverage begins the first day of the month after your application is processed. What this technically means is that your coverage for diagnostic and preventative dental care (procedures such as oral exams, cleanings and x-rays) begins the first day of the month after your application is processed. For everything else, you need to wait.

Traditional dental plans have a six-month waiting period on Type 2 services and a twelve-month waiting period on Type 3 services. This means that you need to wait six months before your plan’s coverage for fillings and root canal treatments kick in and twelve months before treatments such as dentures, bridges and crowns are covered.

Despite the waiting periods, plan members start paying premiums on the effective date of their plan, and for many plans, members pay more than the cost of a Type 2 or 3 procedure in premiums before the procedure is even covered.

For example, getting your cavities filled is a Type 2 procedure. The average cost of having 2 cavities filled is $135. But, before the typical dental insurance plan will cover this procedure, plan members must pay on average $288 in premiums (more than double the cost of the procedure).

Universal Dental Plan, a discount dental savings plan and alternative to traditional dental insurance, has no waiting period for this or any procedure. When an individual member of Universal Dental Plan has two cavities that need to be filled, he or she will have immediate access to the discounted rate of $102 with only the added cost of the $9.95 monthly membership fees.

So, if the member of a traditional dental plan opts to have his or her cavities filled in the first month of plan membership (before Type 2 coverage kicks in), here is what they will end up paying that month for dental services:

Cost of filling two cavities $135
Premium Cost $48
Total Cost $183

If they wait until the Type 2 coverage kicks in, here is the total amount of money that they would pay, just to have coverage for this procedure (this is provided that the cavities left unfilled did not worsen to a condition that’s more costly to treat).

Cost of filling two cavities $27 (with carrier covering 80%)
Premium Cost (for 6 months) $288
Total Cost $315

And here is what a Universal Dental Plan member would pay:

Cost of filling two cavities $102
Monthly membership cost $9.95
Total Cost $111.95

How much would you rather pay to have your cavities filled $315, $183 or $111.95? Twenty to fifty percent discounted rates on procedures and no waiting periods clearly remove the pain of dental insurance costs. To learn more about Universal Dental Plan, visit our website, www.universaldentalplan.com.

With traditional dental insurance, you get what you pay for

One thing people don’t realize about traditional dental insurance is that enrolling in a plan with lower premium costs could (and in most cases does) mean higher out-of-pocket expenses on dental procedures.

For example, one dental insurance plan may charge an individual $40 per-month in premiums and pay 50% coinsurance on all Type 3 or Major Restorative procedures. Another plan may charge an individual $48 per-month and pay 50% coinsurance on all Type 3 procedures.

The first plan may look like the most attractive one at first glance, before one major, often overlooked piece of information is even considered. If a dental insurance carrier pays a coinsurance of 50% on a Major Restorative procedure, does that mean they’re paying 50% of what the dentist charges for the procedure? In most cases, the answer is NO.

Insurance carriers determine how much they will pay on a dental claim by first looking at your company’s zip code and then determining what each dentist in the area charges for the procedure. They give each of the dentists’ fees a percentile rank and determine their coinsurance payment based on a chosen percentile. One carrier may base the cost they cover on the rates charged by a dentist in the 70th percentile, another might base it on what a dentist in the 90th percentile charges.

Knowing that a dental plan pays 50% coinsurance tells you very little. You need to know more information than this for a meaningful comparison of plan costs.

Do you know what percentile your plan carrier is using as their benchmark for paying dentists? It is important to know this when evaluating dental plans because lower premiums usually mean lower percentile pay outs and lower percentile pay outs mean your employees will pay more out of pocket when they visit the dentist.

In light of the current economy, we offer our clients free membership to Universal Dental Plan, a discount dental savings plan and alternative to dental insurance. Visit UDP’s website, http://www.universaldentalplan.com to learn more about the plan and call us to see if your company qualifies.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.