Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: benefits administration

Open enrollment: Resources and what’s new

Open enrollment can be difficult for employees to navigate, but they won’t have to go it alone. Flyers, videos and more are available to help your employees understand their coverage options, choose the right plans for their needs and make the most of their benefits.

What’s new

New initiatives and resources available for this year’s open enrollment season.

Virtual booths

If your company has virtual open enrollment software, you can get all the benefits of having an in-person event virtually. With flyers, presentations and more, a virtual booth session is the perfect educational source for employees who can’t make it into the office. (Virtual booth sessions with a live Delta Dental representative require a minimum of 100 attendees.)

Quality ratings for dentists

Choosing the right dentist can be tricky. The new DentaQual rating system provides a simple and objective rating system based on a dentist’s past performance. That makes it easy for employees to find dentists that deliver effective, appropriate and fairly priced service.

Virtual dentistry

Two options are available for employees who are looking for teledentistry tools: Delta Dental – Virtual Consult (PDF) is a video-based app for members to consult with a Delta Dental dentist live, and Toothpic (PDF) is a photo-based app that lets members submit photos of problem areas for professional analysis.

Get check-ups remotely

Callback assist

When your employees contact Delta Dental’s Customer Service, they can now get a convenient callback instead of having to wait on the line.

A redesigned website

In 2020, we rolled out a whole new design for our website and refreshed its content. This new design makes finding answers easier, whether choosing a plan, understanding benefits or just looking for tips on maintaining a healthy smile.

  • Delta Dental members resources. Help members plan visits, know what to expect at the dentist’s office and what to do after they complete their visits. There’s also useful information about value-added benefits, like virtual dentistry and preferred pricing on LASIK and hearing aids, and a wellness library with articles, videos, recipes and more.
  • Delta Dental virtual dentistry. Understand teledentistry and the differences between Virtual Consult and Toothpic.
  • Smile On. If you have employees who may be retiring or ineligible for full-time benefits, Smile On is a great way for them to get affordable coverage that meets their needs.

New video content

These videos provide short and direct explanations of Delta Dental’s plans and features. To share these videos on your website or intranet, just click the videos to navigate to YouTube. Below the video you wish to share, click Share > Embed. Then copy and paste the code into your webpage or intranet site. 

These videos also feature Spanish closed captioning. To turn on Spanish captions, click the settings symbol (the cogwheel icon), then click Subtitles/CC and choose Spanish from the list.

Delta Dental PPO™ network 

All about the Delta Dental PPO network

Delta Dental PPO and Delta Dental Premier® networks

Get to know Delta Dental’s PPO and Premier networks

DeltaCare® USA 

Welcome to your DeltaCare USA plan

Online resources

Your online resources from Delta Dental

Online resources including the Cost Estimator

The Cost Estimator and other tools form Delta Dental

Resources for your employees

Multilingual support

Material in other languages, including Spanish and Chinese, is available on request. Delta Dental members can also get translation and accessibility services through the Language Assistance Program.

Material to share with employees

Check out the open enrollment benefits resources page for flyers that you can download and print to share with employees. These flyers cover:

  • Plan basics
  • Using a Delta Dental plan
  • Understanding dentist networks
  • Accessing online resources
  • Orthodontic coverage (braces)
  • Individual coverage
  • Value-added features

Even if your company hasn’t returned to the office, open enrollment doesn’t need to be a challenge. Online resources make choosing the right plan and making the most of it easier than ever before!

Kids’ unmet oral health needs highlighted by the pandemic

When your employees become parents, they receive an onslaught of information about their child’s growth markers and health checkups from immunizations to well-child visits. When it comes to dental care, however, less than half of parents receive professional advice on when to start taking their child to the dentist.

And lack of guidance is only the beginning of the problem. Access to dental care has been an ongoing challenge for U.S. children, but during the pandemic, dental care emerged as children’s greatest unmet health need, according to a recent study published in JADA.

What does this mean for your employees and their children, and what can you do to support them?

The pandemic’s effect on pediatric oral health

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, dental disease among children was rampant:

The pandemic made these problems worse by stressing the financial systems that delivers dental care with income and job losses. Households were three times more likely to identify dental care as an unmet health need as a result of the pandemic compared to medical care, according to a JADA study. The authors found a significant association between the probability of unmet child dental care and pandemic-related household income or job loss.

About 40% of families reported the loss of a job or decrease in income due to the pandemic. Before the pandemic, children from families with lower income or who were on Medicaid were twice as likely to have cavities than children from higher-income households. Whether due to lost or decreased income, fear of contracting COVID-19 and mixed communication from health organizations, dental care visits dropped in 2020.

Many people were able to stay covered for medical procedures due to robust signups for Medicare and Medicaid pandemic. But cost remains the major barrier to receiving dental care, since Medicare and Medicaid packages rarely cover many dental procedures. Although access to pediatric dental care has grown for families with public insurance since the early 2000s, kids in low-income families are still less likely to visit the dentist regularly. Additional barriers include difficulty finding a willing dentist, transportation and geographic proximity to dental providers.

Potential solutions for children’s unmet oral health needs

As a benefit administrator, you can invest time into communication efforts that may bridge knowledge gaps among your employees. Here are a couple of ways you can get started:

  • Talk about timelines. Inform your employees about recommended timelines for pediatric care to guarantee they get the information they need, whether or not their dentists communicate that information.
  • Design your package. When you’re designing your benefits package, cover important preventive services for kids, like sealants and fluoride treatments.
  • Highlight plan features. Encourage employees to take advantage of aspects of their insurance, like teledentistry coverage, that can make pediatric care easier. Did you know that 75% of pediatric dentists offer virtual services, compared to only a third of general dentists?
  • Share materials. Explore Delta Dental’s wellness resources and share a selection of helpful articles and flyers in an email or on an internal site. You can even highlight assets that are made for kids, like MySmileKids and Grin! for Kids.
  • Be consistent. When communicating helpful information to your employees, using multiple channels can be confusing and difficult to keep track of. Find a simple routine for sharing, like posting information on an internal webpage with monthly or quarterly email notifications, so that your employees always know where to look.

How Delta Dental invests in communities

To help dentists make investments in their communities, the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation awards several million dollars in grants each year to increase access to care. These awards enable underserved individuals, including children, to get preventive and restorative treatments in accessible locations. More than 250 organizations received funding from the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation during the COVID-19 pandemic, totaling $11 million to provide relief. Many of these clinics support and serve children.

These Access to Care grants fund activities designed to remove barriers to seeking care such as distance, cost, and even fear. The grants can be used to set up mobile or pop-up clinics in a local community, provide dental care in underserved clinical settings, fund outreach programs or offset costs for clinics that routinely provide care to underserved populations.

What comes next

There will probably be some relief for underserved communities, including children, soon. The U.S. economy seems to be recovering. The national unemployment rate is projected to fall to 5.3% by the end of the year.

But the problems highlighted by the pandemic shouldn’t be ignored. As a benefits administrator, you can’t be expected to fix all of the problems in the American economy or health care industry. Still, by highlighting resources and keeping your employees informed, you can positively affect the employees you work with and their children.

3 resolutions to simplify your benefits

2‑minute read

Waking up earlier, working out regularly, cutting out sugar … sometimes starting our New Year’s resolutions can be a bit, well, painful. Here’s some good news — we’ve got resolutions to make managing your Delta Dental benefits even easier. Check out our top tips to ring in the new benefits year right.

1. Arm yourself and your team with the right tools. 

Need to make real-time updates to your plan? With Delta Dental’s Eligibility Management Application (EMA) and Online Billing Reconciliation (OBR) tools, you can do exactly that. 1

EMA gives you the power to add or remove enrollees from a plan, update personal information, modify effective dates and more! With OBR, you can make payments and track and reconcile invoices all in the same secure place.

New year tip: Send your account manager a list of everyone on your benefits team who needs administrator access to OBR and EMA this year, so the right people are set up to use the tools from the get-go.

2. Set the facts straight about ID cards.

Remind enrollees they do not need an ID card to receive dental care. They can simply give the dental office a bit of personal information and they’re all set.

New year tip: We get it — some of us still like physical proof of coverage. If that’s the case, your enrollees can present ID cards from a mobile device by logging in to Online Services or downloading the Delta Dental app (provided by the Delta Dental Plans Association). ID cards can also be printed via Online Services if enrollees prefer (or you can print them for enrollees in EMA).

3. Share (and reshare) your benefits basics.

While you may be an expert on the dental benefits your group offers, sometimes your enrollees need a reminder.

New year tip: Save yourself time answering common enrollee questions throughout the year by reviewing these topics with enrollees now.

  • Plan type: Be sure enrollees know whether they have a Delta Dental PPO™ or DeltaCare® USA (our copay option) plan. Encourage them to check out their plan Policy to learn how their plan type works.
  • Finding a network dentist: The quickest way to find a dentist is online, using the Find a Dentist tool. Enrollees can find a network provider by plan type, location and specialty. We’ve even added Yelp ratings to help guide enrollees.
  • Annual deductibles and maximums: If your enrollees have Delta Dental PPO, the plan likely includes annual deductibles and maximums. Point enrollees to their plan Policy for the specific details. (Frequently, deductibles are waived for diagnostic and preventive care!) 

For more tips and dental insights for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses, subscribe to Word of Mouth.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

OBR and EMA may be unavailable for some groups, including small business plans, which are managed by a team of service experts at one of our third-party administrators (TPAs). Each TPA offers their own suite of online tools and services.

4 ways to create a motivating workspace

2‑minute read

Earlier this year, we shared how celebrating your employees can boost happiness and productivity. While showing appreciation for your employees is key, it’s not the only way to inspire your workforce. Designing the right work environment — from paint colors to plants — can also help motivate your employees. Check out our tips below to learn how the right office décor can uplift and encourage your team.

1. Don’t fear color. What color are the walls in your workplace? Are you surrounded by neutral tones or bold color? Research suggests that certain colors can affect a person’s productivity. If you want to spark some creativity in the office, try incorporating the color purple. If a laid-back vibe is what you want to evoke, try adding more blue and green to your surroundings. If you don’t want to saturate your entire workplace in color, consider painting a couple rooms to match the energy you’re after.1

2. Bring the outside in. You know how we just said green is a calming color? This is great news if your workplace has a view — nature is full of it! Try arranging your employees’ desks in a way that maximizes their view of the outdoors. What if your windows look out to a concrete jungle? Create your own lush landscape by decorating the office with plants and hanging artwork inspired by nature.

 3. Let there be (sun)light. While we all know too much sunlight can be harmful, sunlight in moderation can have mood-lifting benefits and may even help your employees stay focused.

“Exposure to sunlight is thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.” – Healthline Media2  

Keep the blinds open to let as much natural light in as possible. If your workplace lacks natural light, resist the urge to crank up the overhead lights, which can be a nightmare for migraine sufferers. Instead, try providing individual desk lamps so your employees can adjust lighting to meet their own preferences.

4. Live your brand. A great way to get your employees excited about your business is to put it right in front of them. Why not display your mission statement on the wall? What about painting accent walls or providing office supplies in your brand colors? By immersing your employees in your brand, you’re helping them become invested in the business, its goals and its success.

 

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to Word of Mouth, our newsletter for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

 

1 http://www.arttherapyblog.com/online/color-psychology-psychologica-effects-of-colors/#.W4Qt5cJry01

2 https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/benefits-sunlight

Capturing the voice of the customer

4‑minute read

While keeping your enrollees’ smiles healthy is our top priority, we also want our dental plans to give them reasons to smile. So how do we do that? We listen, of course. It sounds simple, but with more than 35 million diverse enrollees, capturing their voice can be a bit, well … complicated. That’s why we created an entire team who’s devoted to listening — to what’s working and what’s not, to suggestions, to experiences and to the just plain weird (and wonderful).

To give you an inside look at how our Customer Experience (CX) team transforms your voices into action, we sat down with Marti White, whose most recent titles include Customer Advocate in CX and Manager of Insights for the Marketing team here at Delta Dental.

Q: Before we jump in, can you tell us about your journey at Delta Dental? How did you become interested in CX?

A: I spent my first six years at Delta Dental in the contact center, filling multiple roles from agent to manager. You learn fast in the contact center — it turned me into a very agile person. I became obsessed with customer satisfaction, but wanted a role where I could do it on a larger scale. At that point, the CX team was looking for a Customer Advocate, a position that over the last year allowed me to help improve technology and processes to create a meaningful impact for the customer. Now, as Manager of Insights in Marketing, I’ll continue this work, but widen my efforts to gathering detailed, actionable feedback from our dentists, benefits administrators and brokers, too.


Q: How would you describe the role of a Customer Advocate?

A: In this role, you become a detective and an advocate for the customer. You drill down into customer issues that might not seem like issues at first glance. But Customer Advocates are trained to not take anything at face value. Instead, we take these seemingly disparate issues, find the root cause, and then resolve them to improve experiences for the entire enrollee population.


Q: So, how do you identify these issues? I.e., how do you listen to the customer?

A: It’s important to identify the crucial moments that influence an enrollee’s experience. For us, we’ve been looking at the moments following a dentist visit, a claim processing or an interaction with customer service. We survey enrollees closely following these key moments, so we’re getting their immediate, honest responses.

I spend a good amount of time speaking with customers directly, too. Whether an issue gets bubbled up to me through the contact center, or an enrollee asks to be contacted in a survey, it’s important for me to keep my boots on the ground to make sure I’m still hearing the customer’s voice directly, rather than making assumptions.


Q: Do we use social media feedback to improve the customer experience?

A: Yes, absolutely! We work with our social media team on a daily basis by helping them respond to complex questions, and identifying those issues I mentioned. For example, we recently discovered through a social media post that the payment portal for our direct to consumer plans was refreshing a bit too quickly, making it difficult to pay a bill. We were able to resolve this issue not only for that one person, but also create a better experience for future enrollees.

Q: Because everyone needs dental care, we have a very broad customer base. How do you ensure a great customer experience for such a diverse group? 

A: By researching our customers’ entire journey, we’ve actually found several common factors that help us predict satisfaction among all age groups. Typically, when an enrollee trusts their insurance carrier and their dentist, they’re very satisfied. We also find higher satisfaction when enrollees have a solid understanding of their benefits and they’re actually using them. This is why we focus our studies around enrollees’ relationships with us and their dentist, along with key plan events, like getting started using their plan.

However, we also recognize that people have different dental needs and cost drivers at different stages of their life. By offering a broad range of plans, both groups and individual customers can have benefits that fit their lifestyle and budget.

Q: Speaking of diverse customers — do you ever gather feedback from non-Delta Dental customers?

A: Yes, we hit the streets and gather feedback from people face to face. Many of these people are not our enrollees, and they also might not even have dental insurance. We ask things like “how do you find a dentist you love?” or “what’s most important to you in a dental plan?” It’s a great opportunity to get raw, honest feedback.


Q: What do you think sets our CX department apart from others?

A: We understand that focusing on what customers want now isn’t enough. We also make it a priority to anticipate their needs tomorrow and years down the road. Oh, and we have a lot of fun doing it!

 

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for updates as we roll out exciting new features for your group.

 

 

For more news and dental insights for benefits administrators, human resources professionals and businesses, subscribe to Word of Mouth.

Are you a broker, agent or consultant? Subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for benefits producers.

Pass the cranberries — and these enrollee notices!

With the holiday season upon us, it can be easy for things to get lost in the hustle and bustle. Be sure that educating new enrollees — and reminding current enrollees — about their rights isn’t one of them.

Federal and state laws require groups to notify enrollees about enrollee rights and privacy practices.1 The good news is, we’ve made it easy for you to share this information.

You can find the notices on our new administrator web pages. Enrollees can also view and download each notice on our website. Additionally, during open enrollment we provide groups with an enrollee flyer summarizing all of the notices.

Please share the notices with current enrollees annually, and with all new enrollees within 30 days of eligibility. 

Not sure how to share? Here are some tips:

  • Post the notices on your company Intranet
  • Email employees a link to the notices
  • Place copies of the notices in common areas, or in the HR area
  • Include copies of the notices in your next company mailing

If you or enrollees have any questions about the notices, you can call 866–530-9675call.

Now relax, and enjoy that second helping of stuffing. And if you need a little encouragement getting into the holiday spirit, be sure to check out our fall issue of Grin!, Delta Dental’s free oral health e‑magazine.

 

1 Self-funded groups are not required to share Delta Dental’s enrollee notices, and may opt to use their own notices; however, these notices cannot be in conflict with Delta Dental’s practices. If you have questions about your notices, please contact your Account Manager.

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