Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: benefits (Page 1 of 8)

How to communicate dental benefits virtually

Communicating with employees in a period of social distancing requires new approaches, and you can manage open enrollment with a solid plan. Since in-person meetings may not be feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic, take advantage of technology to make virtual presentations that are timely and effective.

You can start by planning a virtual benefits fair. This may include medical and dental plan options or you can expand it to a general wellness event. Keeping in mind the value of an in-person session, give your employees handouts or videos that they can view online. The fair can provide information on dental plan coverage and premiums, along with instructions for enrollment for new employees and options for making changes for current enrollees.

Scheduling a video conference meeting with employees is an effective way to connect in real time to explain plan options, answer questions and provide resources. Recording the live session gives employees the opportunity to view information at their convenience.

You can also make recorded sessions or videos available via mobile app so employees can access them on their smartphones.

Throughout open enrollment, you can stay in touch through a blog, FAQ page and opportunities for employees to have online chats with benefits administrators. Rest assured, your benefits plan communications can be effectively delivered virtually, with the added value of safety.

How to respect enrollee (data) privacy

2-minute read

According to a recent survey, 90% of people worry about their data privacy, yet most feel powerless to protect it. We don’t want you to feel this way when it comes to your enrollees’ data. While Delta Dental has cyber risk experts and safeguards in place to keep enrollee data secure when we’re handling it — including personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) — you can take some simple steps to keep enrollee data private when it’s in your hands too.

We asked some of our cyber risk specialists for their top tips to help you safeguard private enrollee data.

Keep (and share) only what’s needed
The more private enrollee data you have, the bigger the risk. If the data has already served its purpose and there isn’t an operational or legal need for it, it’s best to destroy it. The same principal applies when sharing sensitive information — send the minimum amount needed to get the job done.

Slow down, and check before you send
Before you transmit any private enrollee data, double check that you’re sending the correct information to the correct recipient. This may sound like common sense, but one of the most common types of privacy incidents is sending sensitive data to the wrong person — electronically or via snail mail. Be sure that you have the most current enrollee addresses, and always update any necessary partners who may also need them (like us!).

Build a strong virtual defense
Password protection is a key player, but it’s just one part of the privacy defense. Using a VPN for remote access, maintaining strong firewalls and conducting regular vulnerability scans are also crucial to data privacy. If you’re sending any sensitive data through email, be sure to do so safely, such as through secure file transfer processes (SFTPs). And don’t forget about that data when it’s not in transit — using encryption for data at rest adds an extra layer of defense. (Pro-tip: Never store private, sensitive data in your email.)  

Empower yourself and your team
Data privacy can seem overwhelming without the right training. Cyber risks are always evolving, like phishing scams that have gotten so advanced, it’s difficult for most people to spot a fake. That’s why it’s so important for anyone who handles PII or PHI to receive regular training to identify threats and keep enrollee private data safe.    

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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 PPOTM 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.

Check enrollee notices off your year-end to-do list

1-minute read

With the holiday season in full swing, sometimes our daily to-do lists seem never-ending. That’s why we’re helping you cross one thing off your list: Educating new enrollees — and reminding current enrollees — about their rights.

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 learn more about the notices on our 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 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 866-530-9675.

Now, take a deep breath and get back to the rest of your to-do list.

For more tips like this 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.

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.

The cost correlation: Dental benefits may lower businesses’ overall health spend

4-minute read

It’s common knowledge that oral health is linked to overall well-being. What might surprise you, however, is the significant impact your employees’ oral health status can have on your business’s total health care budget. In fact, of the top 10 health conditions costing employers the most, five are linked to oral health.*

#1 Diabetes
Topping the list of costliest employer conditions is diabetes, affecting nearly one in 10 Americans. Not only do diabetics face a higher than normal risk for developing oral health problems like periodontal disease and oral infections, but these problems may be more severe for a diabetic person. It’s not all bad news though. It’s been suggested that treating gum disease can help control blood sugar in diabetic patients, which may slow disease progression. And, receiving routine dentist cleanings and practicing healthy oral hygiene habits may help to lower HbA1c levels (average blood glucose over time).

#2 Cancer
Oral cancer is likely not the first cancer that comes to mind for most of us. Yet, head and neck cancers (85% of which are oral) account for approximately $3.2 billion in treatment costs each year.

Oftentimes, the early symptoms of oral cancers go unnoticed by patients, making them particularly dangerous. That’s why regular dental exams are so important. Dentists and dental hygienists may be able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancers when they’re still in the early or even pre-cancerous stages.

#5 Heart disease

The dental industry has been aware of the correlation between heart disease and oral health for years, and supporting evidence continues to emerge. While we still can’t say the relationship between oral health and heart health is causal, new research suggests that poor dental health, including gum disease and infrequent toothbrushing, may be a risk factor for heart disease.

#6 Hypertension
Recently, an association between hypertension and dental health has also been found — specifically blood pressure control. A new study showed that those with gum disease were less likely to respond to hypertension medications than those with good oral health. The authors of this study go on to say that “those with high blood pressure might benefit from regular dental care”.

#10 High-risk pregnancy
Compared to the average employer medical costs for a healthy, full-term baby, the costs for premature and/or low-birth weight babies is nearly 12 times as much. While the relationship between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes is still being explored, we do know that a mother’s health can impact her baby — and oral health is no exception. Research suggests that expectant mothers with poor oral health may face higher risks of pre-term delivery and of passing disease-causing bacteria to their child. This makes it even more important for expectant mothers to receive regular dental exams during pregnancy. The dentist can evaluate the individual needs of the mother and may even recommend an additional cleaning.

How can dental benefits help?

Regular dental care can help manage certain health conditions and even detect some early, which can help prevent costly medical expenses in the future.

However, your dental benefits may be able to do more than cover routine dental care to improve wellness. Ask these questions about your dental benefits to find out how they can boost overall health and your business’s bottom line:

  • Is there extra support for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease? Providing additional coverage to enrollees with certain medical conditions may prevent or halt the progression of disease, which can help you manage dental and medical expenses down the road.
  • How can I track employees’ oral health status? Do I receive useful reports? Regular reporting on your enrollees’ oral health habits can highlight where your group is doing well and help identify areas where enrollees can improve oral health, and in turn, improve overall health.
  • How is oral health supported during pregnancy? Are additional cleanings covered? An extra cleaning during pregnancy can lead to healthier babies and may lower certain pregnancy risks associated with oral bacteria.
  • Are oral health and wellness resources readily available? Your enrollees may not even be aware of the impact oral health can have on their overall health. Carriers who provide valuable wellness resources can help encourage enrollees to be active participants in their oral health.

 

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.

 

*The oral health information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice. Patients should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning oral health.

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