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The Case for Dental Insurance as an Employee Benefit

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Growing waiting lists, practices not admitting new patients and the link between oral health and identifying other more serious health conditions mean now is the time for employers to embrace dental benefits, according to advisers. At Get Dental Plans we are specialists in offering dental insurance plans to companies as part of their employee benefits offering.

Practices not accepting new patients

A BBC investigation over this past month found nine in 10 NHS dental practices across the UK were not accepting new adult patients for treatment under the health service and eight in 10 NHS practices were not taking on children.

The situation is only being intensified by new data pointing to a significant decline in the number of adult patients being seen by NHS dentists year-on-year and a rise in the volume of urgent treatment being required.

In August NHS Digital data revealed while there was a 42% increase in the number of children seen by NHS dentists within the recommended two year time period, the number of adults seen was down almost 10% year-on-year.

This all follows on from a recommendation from the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence who advised low-risk adult patients only need a check-up once every 24 months instead of every six months.

So will the Institute’s recommendation make any difference to alleviating pressure on NHS dentists improving access to services and how will this affect demand for private dental healthcare?

Marcia Reid, non-executive director at Sherwood Healthcare, said that anecdotally she knows many dentists have already recommended an increased interval between check-ups .

“Dental insurance and cash plans that include reimbursement for dental costs are already growing in popularity with our corporate clients,” Reid added.

“Even prior to this change in recommended check-up intervals, Healthwatch England was advising patients they ‘may have to deal with a significant backlog’.

“This new directive will simply serve to confirm these are excellent employee benefits and the case for investing in dental benefits has never been more powerful.”

Dentists spot other health conditions

Our Dental Insurance cash plans allow users to claim back for both NHS and private dental costs, and so users who still wish to visit a dentist or hygienist more regularly can book in to have this done privately and then claim back the cost from their policy. We encourage our policyholders to have regular check-ups given that dentists can spot dental problems and a range of other health conditions including oral cancer.

Claire Ginnelly, vice chairwoman of the Association of Medical Insurers and Intermediaries (AMII), told Health & Protection she suspects it will not be upper most in a lot of employers' minds as many still do not understand the connection between poor dental hygiene and ill health.

“It is the sort of thing advisers should be making their clients aware of, so they discuss possible options with them if employers are concerned,” Ginnelly continued.

“However, if you have an NHS dentist, it may be difficult to book more regular checkups as I understand the proposal is stating that dentists would set the frequency of checkups following an assessment of the patient’s oral hygiene.”

And Ginnelly added it was easy to envisage a situation where people who are trying to save money or who have a fear of the dentist may start to reduce the frequency of their checkups even if the dentist still suggests six monthly appointments.

“Overall, I do not think there is a massive risk. Even the British Dental Association – who have not been positive about the proposed changes – have not said there is a greater risk to overall health,” Ginnelly added.

“I believe the issue is these changes will not fix the fundamental problems in the NHS which is a shortfall of NHS dentists because so many are moving to private due to how they are paid.”

Greatest jeopardy for preventative healthcare

Looking into the future, Sherwood Healthcare’s Reid warned that in a post-Covid world, as with all healthcare services, this is a time of greatest jeopardy for preventative healthcare.

“This increases the importance of health-related benefits as employers can help in protecting their employees and enhance their wellbeing,” she continued.

Dental Insurance Plans will have a key role in alleviating the problem, as they can play a crucial role in softening the financial impact of treatments such as this and customer feedback shows that many fear the bill more than the drill when visiting the dentist. As people across the country are struggling with the current cost of living crisis and ever-increasing food and fuel prices, we are encouraging businesses to make a dental insurance plan a central part of their financial wellbeing support for their workforce.

If you would like to find out why dental insurance plans should be a key part of your employee benefits, please contact us today to talk about our company dental insurance plans.

Article correct at time of publication 13.9.22.


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