Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

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Keeping dental insurance when budgets are tight

With today’s pandemic-related economic uncertainty and rising interest rates, you may find yourself with a benefits budget that’s stretched a bit thin. If you’ve considered dropping your group’s dental benefits to save money ― or don’t think you have the resources to add them ― we’ve got you covered.

DeltaCare® USA, Delta Dental’s DHMO-type product, offers comprehensive dental benefits for less than you might expect. These copay plans cover more than 400 procedures, so your employees won’t have to sacrifice quality care for affordability.

What it offers

Most DeltaCare USA plans include additional cleanings at reduced copayments, at-home teeth whitening, athletic mouthguards and porcelain crowns. And our orthodontic treatment in-progress provision allows new members to continue treatment with their current orthodontist, even if that orthodontist isn’t in our DeltaCare USA network.

Other advantages include: 

  • Tooth-colored fillings for any tooth
  • No lab fees or other hidden fees
  • No hidden charges for materials such as resins, metals or porcelain

What’s more, as a fixed copayment plan, DeltaCare USA offers your employees both convenience and simplicity:

  • No deductibles or maximums
  • No claim forms
  • Low or no copayments for diagnostic and preventive care

How it works

In most states, employees select a DeltaCare USA primary care dentist and pay their set copayment directly to the dentist. That’s it. Our primary care dentists even coordinate specialty care. An added bonus is that there’s no paperwork.

How it helps you

DeltaCare USA plans are easy to manage and offer predictable costs. Available resources include:

  • A comprehensive administrator support guide
  • A recently updated wellness library that includes a variety of helpful dental wellness content, including a risk assessment tool, wellness videos and dozens of articles

Remember, one of the biggest boosts to your budget is happy, healthy employees. Each year, over $45 billion is lost in productivity because of dental issues. When employees without coverage avoid going to the dentist or delay care, their dental issues often become more serious and may contribute to serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

So if you think budgetary woes mean dental coverage might not be in your future, consider DeltaCare USA. You’ll help your employees — and your budget — stay healthy.

What to expect in 2022 benefits trends

In the midst of the Great Resignation, benefits are more important than ever for groups and individuals alike. About 37% of employees would rather receive more substantial benefits than additional salaries or bonuses.

That means that in-office perks like free snacks or casual dress won’t necessarily cut it on their own. Instead, job seekers are looking for more specific, long-term investments into their financial and physical well-being.

Paid family leave and child care assistance

The lines that separate work time and home life blurred significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic and employees are looking for benefits that acknowledge the realities of life. Only 40% of employers offer paid family leave for both mothers and fathers and only 6% offer child care benefits, despite both parents working full-time.

The lack of reliably safe child care during the pandemic has employees looking for financial support when it comes to child care and paid time off to take care of their kids. To build a benefits package that supports your employees and their kids, consider rebates or financial help with the costs of daycare, or even adding more paid time off to care for young children.

Voluntary benefits

Historically, companies have offered blanket benefits and resources that give the same support to all their employees. Often, benefits packages are designed to satisfy employees in key groups, like emerging talent and leadership, while other employees’ needs are prioritized much lower.

Employees with mature careers and families to care for have different priorities in mind than those who are just starting out. In 2022, many employers are looking to design more flexible benefits packages so that all employees get more of the coverage they want, with less fluff. That means adding opt-in benefits like pet insurance, critical illness plans and increased mental health support.

Flexible work arrangements

Employees want to be able to design the work-life balance they need, rather than trying to fit in to what their company has previously set. The good news is that if you’re looking to hire in 2022, flexible work will be an easy way to drive applications and retain employees.

Flexibility is the fastest growing priority for job seekers. Jobs that offer remote work receive four times the applications than onsite jobs do, LinkedIn found. But flexibility and remote work aren’t just good for getting new applications — employees who are satisfied with their work schedules and locations are more likely to enjoy working for you and recommend your workplace, according to the same study.

Expanded health services

The pandemic solidly established the connection between employee well-being and productivity ― and employers took note. About 32% of employers indicated they were working on expanding and strengthening their virtual care or telehealth programs. Another 25% said that they would increase the mental health support services offered to employees. With these kinds of benefits becoming valuable, expect to see Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) increase in 2022 as well.

Investments for financial security

Did you know many people in America are living paycheck to paycheck? After roughly 9.6 million U.S. workers lost their jobs due to COVID-19, the stress of living without a solid financial backup has many people looking to boost their savings. Employees are looking to their employers for support when it comes to money, and they’re open to more than just a higher salary.

Employees indicate that financial benefits — like tools that automatically put part of their paycheck towards debt — would lead to less financial stress in their lives. Programs like emergency cash grants or loan programs have shown great results as well. In one study, 72% of employees who benefited from a hardship fund expressed they were more likely to stay with their employer and about 65% indicated that the fund greatly lessened their financial stress.

As you build your benefits package keep in mind that employees are looking for support from their employers. By providing flexible, specific benefits that keep your employees mentally, physically and financially strong, you’re investing in a happier and more productive work force.

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

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