Benefits administrator blog from Delta Dental

Tag: employee benefits (Page 1 of 3)

6 strategies to ease employee stress and create a happier workplace

4-minute read

Stress is costly. From teeth grinding to high blood pressure and anxiety, our bodies often pay the price. Just reading this list of 50 common physical and mental symptoms of stress is stress-inducing itself! But the effects of stress go beyond health — it can even take a toll on your business. In fact, a recent study found that businesses lose billions in productivity due to employee stress.

Take a deep breath. We’re here to help you with proven strategies to help reduce stress in your workplace (and even have some fun)!

Harness the power of good (deeds).

Volunteering is one of the best ways to combat stress. Research shows that volunteering has many health benefits, including stress reduction.

Volunteering can also give your employees a sense of purpose and appreciation, strengthen relationships and even encourage exercise — all great ways to lower stress. One study even found that people who volunteered for at least 200 hours in a 12-month span were less likely to develop high blood pressure (a common symptom of stress) than non-volunteers.

If your company offers a volunteer time off (VTO) benefit, you can organize events and activities that encourage employees to attend together. If VTO isn’t an option, you can share local volunteer events with employees that happen outside of work hours. Bonus points for including volunteer events with dogs (keep reading to see why)!

Fight stress with fitness.

Exercise is a stress triple threat. Why?

  • Increased happiness: Exercise boosts the body’s natural production of endorphins. This perky chemical has been proven to boost happiness.
  • Positive outlook: Concentrating on your body’s movements — like achieving that perfect push-up form — helps shift focus from life’s stressors to a calm, more positive energy.
  • Improved sleep: Various studies suggest that exercise improves sleep. Poor sleep can increase cortisol levels, which is often referred to as the stress hormone

To get employees moving, try organizing an intramural-style team sport or sponsoring a race for your company. If you’re not sure what types of activities your employees might enjoy, send out a survey to find out.

Laugh it off! (And no, we don’t mean ignore it.)

Stress is no laughing matter. Or, is it? Are you familiar with the phrase, “laughter is the best medicine?” When it comes to fighting stress, laughter may be an effective remedy. Studies show that laughter can relieve some of the physical symptoms of stress by stimulating circulation and muscle relaxation. Over time, “positive thoughts can actually release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses,” according to Mayo Clinic.

Don’t worry — there’s no need to host a daily comedy hour at the office. But taking a moment to share a funny story or keeping a joke book on hand may be a good idea. To really get the workplace rolling, why not try a group outing to a laughing yoga class? In addition to getting the giggles, you get a wonderful opportunity to encourage employee bonding and create endorphins.

Create a serene space.

Is there a big deadline coming up? Holding a wellness fair soon? Consider contacting a local pet therapy organization that can bring in dogs to interact with employees. Multiple studies suggest that dogs can lower our stress levels — oftentimes even more than a supportive friend according to new research. Plus, dogs can help fulfill our longing for human touch, which can boost dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin (aka our feel good hormones).

Let’s start with color. For centuries, people across the globe have believed that certain colors can affect mood. In 2003, a Minnesota State University study actually found that subjects placed in a red room gave higher stress ratings than subjects placed in green and white rooms. Why not pick up a paint brush or add some calming accents of green and white to your office space?

Beyond color, research continues to show that exposure to nature can alter mood. A 2018 study even suggests that just visiting a natural environment can reduce stress levels. If your office is in a natural setting, encourage employees to get out and enjoy it during breaks. If a concrete jungle is your landscape, consider organizing nature walks for employees at a nearby park. Adding plants and nature-inspired artwork may also help!  

Send in the dogs.

Not only can these furry visitors perk up your workplace, but they can also help employees feel more comfortable connecting with each other. Win-win!

Check stress levels and offer support.

With the rise of telecommuting, face-to-face interaction with employees might not be as regular as it was in the past. However, that doesn’t mean we should be less connected! Sometimes just acknowledging employee stress can provide relief. Remind managers to check in on employees’ stress levels regularly, not just when there’s a big project on the line.

In addition to using the stress-busting strategies in this article, encourage managers to stay current on the types of services your company offers to help cope with stress. And, if it seems like employees are feeling more than situational stress, it may be time for them to seek professional help.


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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.

 

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*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.

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.

 

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

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

Benefit tips for enrollees to pack for vacation

2-minute read

With summer vacation season heating up, you may worry about the impact this could have on managing your group’s dental benefits. We’ve got good news — with these packing tips you can also relax knowing that Delta Dental benefits have your enrollees covered.

Travel to the dentist first
Dental emergencies are hard enough when your enrollees are home — dealing with one during vacation can be even more unpleasant. That’s why it’s so important to encourage your enrollees to receive dental checkups regularly.

A minor toothache now might seem like it can wait, but what if it becomes excruciating during a once-in-a-lifetime gondola ride on the Grand Canal? Ouch! Taking care of minor oral health issues before traveling can help decrease the chance of costly problems while enrollees are out of town.

Packing tip:  Encourage enrollees to visit the emergency care section on our SmileWay® website to help them prepare for any dental issues that arise when they’re away from home.

 

Map out providers
If an oral health emergency occurs, your enrollees shouldn’t wait until after vacation to seek treatment. From coast to coast, your Delta Dental PPOTM1 enrollees can visit any licensed dentist to receive care without preauthorization.2 DeltaCare® USA1 enrollees are also covered with an out-of-area emergency benefit.3

Packing tips: Enrollees can visit our website to find a network dentist by location or specialty, and even compare Yelp ratings. And for more information on receiving care away from home, enrollees can check out this helpful guide.


Document experiences abroad
Emergency treatment coverage abroad varies by plan type. Encourage enrollees to check their plan details before vacation, and let them know they will need to file their own claim along with a detailed receipt from the treating dentist with the following information to receive reimbursement:

  • Date of service
  • Dentist name and address
  • List of procedures and affected teeth
  • Currency in which to make payment

Packing tip: Share this article with enrollees to give them more details on receiving dental care while outside the U.S.

 

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1Delta Dental PPO is underwritten by Delta Dental Insurance Company in AL, DC, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, NV and UT and by not-for profit dental service companies in these states: CA – Delta Dental of California; PA, MD – Delta Dental of Pennsylvania; NY – Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; DE – Delta Dental of Delaware, Inc.; WV – Delta Dental of West Virginia, Inc. In Texas, Delta Dental Insurance Company provides a Dental Provider Organization (DPO) plan.

DeltaCare USA is underwritten in these states by these entities: AL — Alpha Dental of Alabama, Inc.; CA — Delta Dental of California; DC, DE, FL, GA, LA, MS, MT, WV — Delta Dental Insurance Company; MD, TX — Alpha Dental Programs, Inc.; NV — Alpha Dental of Nevada, Inc.; UT — Alpha Dental of Utah, Inc.; NY — Delta Dental of New York, Inc.; PA — Delta Dental of Pennsylvania. Delta Dental Insurance Company acts as the DeltaCare USA administrator in all these states. These companies are financially responsible for their own products.

2 Applies to covered services; enrollees should consult their contract before receiving treatment. Enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs are likely to be lower if they receive emergency care from a dentist who is in their network.

3 Authorization for treatment may be required. Enrollees should consult their contract for the specific out-of-area provisions for their plan before receiving treatment.

Calling all Delta Dental clients: How well do you know your benefits?

Have you visited our site for benefits administrators (BAs) lately? It’s got everything you need to administer your Delta Dental plan and support your enrollees all in one place. Whether you’re a seasoned BA with Delta Dental, or you’re just getting to know us, you can test your knowledge of the BA site with a fun scavenger hunt.

Here we go!

Visit our benefits administrator site on your desktop or mobile device. You can also type deltadentalins.com/administrators/ into your browser.

Let’s start with something simple to help you get warmed up.

1. Which two types of dental plans do the BA pages help you manage?

(a) Tri-Delta DentalTM and Copay® USA

(b) Delta Dental PPOTM and DeltaCare® USA

(c) McDelta® USA and Delta DentalTM Care

(d) DentalCareTM  PPO and SmileWay® USA

Warmed up yet? Let’s dig a little deeper.

2. How do your enrollees get a mobile ID card?

You’re doing great — let’s keep going.

3. Which of the following can you do with our Find a Dentist Tool? (You can pick more than one)

(a) See if a particular dentist is in our networks.

(b) Search for providers by location or specialty.

(c) Find directions to the center of the earth.

(d) Explore provider Yelp reviews.

Too easy? Here’s a tough one.

4. Do your enrollees need to file a claim when they visit a Delta Dental network dentist?

Last question — you’re in the home stretch.

5. Where can you find our online library of enrollee oral health articles, videos, assessments and more? (Bonus points if you know the name of our wellness program)

 

Awesome job – you made it! Be sure to stay tuned for the answers to the scavenger hunt next week.

 

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

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New, stronger evidence to support gum disease and heart disease correlation

The dental industry has been aware of the correlation between periodontal disease and a range of overall health issues for years, but there is new, more significant evidence to support the correlation between oral bacteria and heart disease.

A recent study found association between the virulence genes of several bacterial species that cause periodontal disease to atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries). Virulence genes are what make bacteria effective — in part by allowing bacteria to attach to healthy cells.

For the study, researchers took plaque samples from 65 patients with heart disease from plaque buildup in the arteries and from periodontal pockets, and concluded that the results “strongly correlate periodontal bacterial co-occurrence and periodontal bacterial adhesion factor to atherosclerosis.” This means that the presence of oral bacteria, and the bacteria’s ability to attach to cells, coincides with a higher risk ratio of atherosclerosis.

Previous research studied only the presence of oral bacteria in heart disease patients, but advancements in technology allowed researchers to study the virulence genes of several bacteria species to draw a stronger correlation.

This new evidence does not prove that the oral bacteria is causal, but it does raise more concern for the implications of gum disease — and highlights the importance of monitoring and improving oral health.

Want to learn more about gum disease or other oral health topics? Visit the Oral Health section of deltadentalins.com and encourage your employees to take our gum disease risk quiz.

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