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Getting Group Dental Insurance without the Pain

Dental insurance has securely lock-jawed itself into most employee benefit packages. Once considered to be a part of a more progressive benefit package, group dental insurance is now commonplace in most small to medium sized business benefits. It is estimated that over 80% of small businesses offer dental insurance. Do you offer dental insurance and how good is your plan?

Providing dental insurance generates a higher satisfaction rate in employees and will facilitate their good health. If cost is something that is deterring you in providing group dental insurance, then consider that it accounts for less than 10% of medical coverage. It is more affordable and more prevalent than most think.

Plans
- Direct reimbursement plans pay for coverage from money that the business specifically set aside for this purpose. There are no deductibles involved. Whatever the dental bill is, it gets covered by the insurance plan. This is the most highly recommended form of coverage and also costs the most.

- Indemnity plans require premiums to be paid to an insurance company. The insurance provider then pays the dentists for their services. Employees are reimbursed without the complexities of deductibles. Premium pricing is set for the year, so businesses can factor in costs.

UCR (usual customary rates) are paid to the dentists by the insurance provider. If the dentists rates exceed the price of the UCR, the patient usually has to make up for the difference. Patients need to pay a deductible fee and then a portion of the remaining amount (a co-payment). Average plans will cover 100% of basic visits, 80% for more in depth work, and 50% of heavily involved work such as oral surgery.

- Managed care dental plans require patients choose from a variety of dentists and be responsible for a co-payment for treatment. These plans are cost-controlled and are more economical for smaller businesses. More advanced treatments will have a higher rate of co-pay.

Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) involve several dentists. These dentists have discounted their normal fees to be inducted into the program. An employee picks from these preselected dentists or must pay a higher co-payment for someone outside of the network

"The principle objective of the medical profession is to render service to humanity."

Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMOs) provide the option for employees to choose from a list of preselected dentists as well. These dentists dont discount their fees, but offer basic services for free. These dentists are paid a fixed rate (even if an employee never visits) and will issue a fee or co-payment for highly involved or frequent visits.

How to choose
Ups and downs exist for each plan. It is up to a business to find the right plan for them at the present time. The direct reimbursement will be most attractive to employees, but will cost a business more money than the less expensive plans. PPO and DHMO dentists are prescreened for efficiency, so they are not the bottom of the barrel and most of the smaller businesses seem to go with one of these two plans.

"Pay homage to the physician before you need him."

Going with the cheaper plans will mean employees will have to wait for reimbursement and some procedures are only covered while others only according to number of visits.

Price
Several factors like number of employees and their contribution will determine the pricing of your group dental insurance plan. An average number for annual coverage per patient is between $1,000 and $1,500. The monthly cost of premiums for businesses is anywhere between 25% and 50%.

For more information log on The American Dental Association website (www.ada.org)


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