Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: cost savings (Page 1 of 2)

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.

Take the mystery out of dental expenses with the Cost Estimator

Your employees are busy enough, so trying to figure out how to budget their dental care shouldn’t become a second job. That’s why we created the Cost Estimator, a tool available for desktop and mobile that your employees can use to estimate quickly and easily what their next dental visit will cost.

What’s more, the Cost Estimator has just been refreshed with a new, accessible and mobile-optimized design.

How can the Cost Estimator can help my employees?

The Cost Estimator provides employees with a personalized estimate (based on the fee schedule from the last dentist from whom they received service) for an entire dental visit with a specific dentist. It calculates employees’ out-of-pocket costs based on their current benefits. Information is updated daily, so your employees can always count on getting an accurate cost estimate.

This versatile and easy-to-use tool offers employees a variety of useful features and information to help them make the most of their benefits and helps them become better informed consumers.

In the tool, employees can choose from a list of common dental procedures ― they can even specify which tooth needs treatment or what type of filling they’d prefer! After they select their procedure, the Cost Estimator calculates their estimated out-of-pocket cost. The tool subtracts both the network savings and the portion the plan pays.

Other tasks your employees can perform with the Cost Estimator include:

  • Adding procedures. If employees need to add services such as a cleaning or x‑rays to their visit, they can add them to their estimate to get the total cost of the visit.
  • Comparing dentists. Employees might be curious to see if they’d save by switching to another dentist. The Cost Estimator lets them compare up to five in-network dentists to find the best deal.
  • Selecting plan members. Employees can get cost estimates for anyone on their plan, such as spouses and children.
  • Reviewing benefits usage. Employees can access the benefits activity and history for everyone on their plan, and can also review their plan’s maximums, deductibles and out-of-pocket limits.

How can the Cost Estimator help my bottom line?

The Cost Estimator provides members with transparency about their out-of-pocket costs. More cost transparency can mean fewer questions and less confusion about the value of visiting an in-network dentist. By showing the substantial cost differences between in-network and out-of-network dentist visits, the tool encourages in-network utilization — which can help members save and may help lower your group’s dental plan costs.

Is the Cost Estimator available to my group?

Yes! All Delta Dental PPO™ and Delta Dental Premier® groups are eligible to sign up for the Cost Estimator. Talk to your Sales contact to find out how to add this service to your plan.

DeltaCare® USA members receive a plan booklet with their copayments for covered services, so this tool isn’t necessary for DeltaCare USA plans.

To access the Cost Estimator, employees simply click Plan ahead for a visit from the member portal. PPO and Premier members can also access a more limited version of the Cost Estimator through the Delta Dental mobile app, which features in- and out-of-network fees.


With the Cost Estimator, your employees can be confident not only about staying within their budgets, but also that they’re getting the best deal for themselves and their families. Be sure your employees don’t miss out on this valuable resource.

Get ready to brush even smarter

Going to the dentist for regular checkups is important for maintaining oral health, but what can people do at home to keep a bright and healthy smile? BrushSmart is Delta Dental’s free oral wellness program designed to help members power up their at-home oral care. Members who sign up get exclusive discounts and offers from trusted brands that specialize in dental products. This spring, BrushSmart is adding more partners and more discounts.

  • Oral‑B
  • Philips Sonicare
  • quip

Joining BrushSmart is great for your employees with Delta Dental plans. The engagement and rewards the program offers can help drive better oral health behavior and the focus on at-home care may help employees achieve better health outcomes. Let your employees know they can sign up online and take control of their oral health.

Sealants: A great value for your employees

Children’s Dental Health Month in February serves as an annual reminder of how crucial it is to start young people early on the right path for a lifetime of oral health. Your employees naturally want what’s best for their kids, so a simple benefit like sealants that help protect children’s teeth can be an important part of their insurance plans. Here’s a closer look at sealants and the types of coverage Delta Dental offers.

What are sealants?

Sealants are plastic coverings applied to the deep crevices of teeth to seal them off from decay. Think of them like raincoats for the teeth. Sealants are most often applied to permanent back teeth because they have the deepest grooves and are at the highest risk of decay.

How effective are sealants?

Sealants provide protection against tooth decay, preventing 80% of cavities for two years and continuing to protect against 50% of cavities for up to four years. Children without sealants have almost three times more first molar cavities than children with sealants.

Who needs sealants?

Children and teenagers ages six to 15 are the best candidates for sealants. Sealants can be especially beneficial for kids who have a history of cavities or are otherwise at high risk for dental problems (such as from secondhand smoke or from medications that cause dry mouth).

Why is sealant coverage an important benefit?

Sealants aren’t just effective; they’re also cost-effective. Sealants prevent tooth decay and can spare your employees’ families the hassle, discomfort and expense of cavities. And unlike treatment for cavities, sealant application is a simple, one-time, painless procedure. Access to sealants through dental coverage can provide your employees’ children with a health advantage they’ll value for a lifetime.

Delta Dental offers sealant coverage for groups and individuals

Most Delta Dental plans cover dental sealants, so your employees with covered family members can often get their kids’ protective sealants at little or no out-of-pocket cost. Sealants are a standard benefit in group Delta Dental PPO™ plans. Coverage for sealants can vary by policy. All standard DeltaCare® USA plans cover sealants.

Plans that include sealants generally limit the benefit to permanent first and second molars subject to age limitations by contract. Under some Delta Dental PPO plans, there is a maximum allowance payable per tooth, and the patient is responsible for the remainder of the allowed fee. Benefits for sealants include repair or replacement within 24 months by the same dentist or dental office.

If you haven’t already, consider offering sealants as a part of your employees’ coverage. If your plan covers sealants, educate employees about this valuable benefit. Share this flyer about sealants by email, or post it on your company’s website or intranet.

Sealants protect children’s oral health, and that’s a benefit parents will value. With Delta Dental, your employees can find affordable, highly rated coverage for the whole family.

Remote work and employers: what are the pros and cons?

In 2020, we all learned just how fast the world could adapt to new measures. In the workforce, this has meant relying on coworkers and employees to bring their work home without missing a beat. With a year passed since COVID-19 changed the world, it’s time to reflect on the first year as full-time remote employers, what has been learned from it, and how to continue to adapt moving forward.

Here’s a closer look at the pros and cons of remote working:

Pros

Flexibility

Working from home is far from a new concept. In fact, it’s often touted as a job perk by hiring managers. For employees, it often comes down to flexibility. Working remotely can be an opportunity schedule quick errands, focus in a less distracting environment or even to enjoy more time with the pets while still accomplishing the tasks at hand. The freedoms of remote work can be a major morale-booster. A study by PwC recently found that 55% of would like still to keep working from home at least three days a week once it’s safe to return to the office.

Lack of commute

Who wouldn’t choose walking to their living room over an hour commute on an over-stuffed train? Eliminating this often stressful part of the day saves time, money and headaches. It also takes more cars off the road, meaning less air pollution. In November, NASA announced that global nitrogen dioxide concentrations had been reduced by nearly 20% since February of 2020.

Larger pool of candidates

Eliminating a tough commute can also mean a more competitive job market. When people can work from anywhere, it widens the pool of potential candidates. For permanently remote jobs where location isn’t a requirement, employers can reap the benefits with a larger number of viable applicants.

Saved money

Less people in an office means a smaller office space, fewer everyday office expenses like supplies and cleanup, and less utilities at work. These kinds of savings aren’t just beneficial during uncertain times — they can be lucrative to new businesses trying to grow.

Cons

Blurred work/life balance

One of the more complicated issues to arise from remote working has been the stress of balancing a regular workday with our rapidly changing world. When the physical barrier of an office is removed, the lines between professional and personal lives can get a bit fuzzy. While flexible work hours may be a pro, they can become a slippery slope of overtime and burnout if left unchecked. In fact a recent Gallup poll showed that 29% of people who always work from home feel burnt out “very often” or “always.”

Encourage your staff to set up a corner of their home just for work if they can and to stay online for office hours only. Check in regularly to make sure that they feel heard and supported in their work endeavors.

Internet complications

We’ve all heard the horror stories: Someone forgot to mute themselves in a meeting or couldn’t figure out how to turn a Zoom filter off. In 2020, the learning curve got a bit steeper as our toolboxes grew along with our reliance on technology.

A little bit of training and empathy can go a long way in these cases. As expectations change, offer learning guides, webinars and other resources to help employees with the learning process. Additionally, understand that complications can occasionally arise when employees are at the mercy of Wi-Fi, laptops, and other far-from-perfect technologies.

Less organic opportunities for connection

With no watercooler to gather around, those little day-to-day opportunities for staff to connect can be tougher to find. Don’t let it wedge a gap between the team.

Schedule a little time for virtual team-building opportunities, be it a lunch meet-up or a Friday game hour. Take this time to focus on company values and consider how you can foster trust and communication.

As the world continues to change, take some time to reflect on how much you and your team have already adapted and give yourself credit where it’s due. Creating a culture of openness and empathy will help address issues as they arise and keep you connected to your team.

Effective discount: Understanding a plan’s true savings

When you consider a PPO dental plan, certainly one of the deciding factors is savings — during a dental visit, how much will this plan save my employees?

Traditionally, a good way to judge this has been to consider the plan’s PPO network discount, or the discount offered on dental services when visiting a dentist within the plan’s PPO network. After factoring in the fees, the greater the discount, the better the plan, right?

Not exactly. While PPO network discount is one chapter of savings, it’s not the whole story. A more accurate way to gauge a plan’s true savings is to consider the plan’s effective discount. The effective discount considers the average savings enrollees receive when visiting any dentist, either in network or out of network.

It’s here where Delta Dental offers a unique advantage: the Delta Dental PPO™ plan with the Delta Dental Premier® network.

With most PPO plans, the PPO network is absolute — you’re in or you’re out. And if you visit an out-of-network dentist, you’re responsible for the full cost of dental services provided by that dentist. The Premier network offers a secondary network that acts as a “safety net” if a PPO enrollee can’t find, or chooses not to visit, a dentist within the PPO network.

While the Premier network provides a smaller discount than the PPO network, the combined size of the two networks — more than 155,000 unique dentists as of 2020 — ensures that most people covered under a PPO plan can visit a Delta Dental dentist and save. This large network enables Delta Dental to deliver a national network utilization rate of 94%, compared to an average PPO utilization of 65% for competitor networks.

And it’s this safety net that often makes a Delta Dental PPO plan a better value than one from another company.

For example, let’s look at a theoretical example in which there are two group PPO plans with identical fees: one from Delta Dental and one from a carrier without a secondary network. In each scenario, 10 people are insured. Five visit PPO dentists and receive a discount, and five visit non-PPO dentists. The Delta Dental plan provides a 35% discount at PPO dentists. The other plan provides a 36% discount at PPO dentists.

Given the otherwise identical scenarios, it might at first seem that the plan with the higher PPO network discount offers the better value. However, in the Delta Dental plan, four people can visit a Premier dentist for a 19% discount. Because only one person visits a non–Delta Dental dentist, the group receives a total effective discount of 25%. Contrast this with the other plan. Because half receive no discount at all, the effective discount is only 18%.

It’s not surprising then that Delta Dental offers groups the best effective discount in the country, averaging 29.4% nationally in 2019, according to a July 2020 study by Dental Actuarial Analytics. This equals more than $8.2B in savings for enrollees annually when compared to dentists’ average charges for services.

So remember when considering a dental plan for employees, savings is more than PPO discounts. When you consider effective discount, you offer a complete story. With an ending your employees should like.

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