5 Tips for Choosing a Dental Benefits Plan for Small Businesses

Graduating students and alumni rate dental coverage among the top five most important workplace benefits. Does your dental plan meet your employees' needs?

Graduating students and alumni rate dental coverage among the top five most important workplace benefits. Does your dental plan meet your employees’ needs?

According to a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, graduating students and alumni rate dental coverage among the top five most important workplace benefits.1

Unfortunately, many small business owners are unsure what to look for when choosing a dental benefits plan. In fact, 90 percent of benefits decision-makers rely on a broker or consultant to help them choose the best plan and carrier for their employees.2

Luckily, choosing a dental insurance plan that’s right for your small business group—whether it’s for two or 200—doesn’t have be difficult. Here are five questions to ask when buying dental insurance:

  1. What is the size of the dentist network? Dental insurance is delivered through contracts with local dentists. The key is how your plan contracts with dentists to get you the lowest cost and highest quality of care. Delta Dental of Arizona negotiates a low cost for you with our statewide network of 3,200 dentists, and we protect our members from balance-billing (the difference between what the plan pays and what the dentist charges). Lower out-of-pocket costs mean that your dental benefits go further. In contrast, some dental carriers offer only a limited discount from the standard dental office fee. This can shift the burden of expense to the patient for costly services such as root canals and crowns. The discounts they offer may also be limited to a much smaller network of dentists.
  2. What are my payment obligations? Look at the deductibles. This is the amount that the patient must pay before the insurance company pays for all or a portion of the costs. You’ll also want to look at the out-of-pocket maximums. If you are purchasing your dental benefits through a medical insurance carrier, look carefully at how deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums apply. For example, a deductible for a health plan might be $2,000 while the deductible for a stand-alone dental plan may range from $25 to $100. This means you could pay out-of-pocket for a lot of dental costs before the medical plan starts paying toward dental treatment.
  3. Are preventive services covered? Look for a plan that encourages preventive care by covering 100% of the costs of initial exams, cleaning, X-rays, sealants and fluoride treatments. Many people don’t realize that costly and painful dental problems can be prevented by regular visits to the dentist, even at the earliest of ages.
  4. Does the plan meet my needs? Assess your company’s unique situation. Do you have employees whose kids are ready for braces? Might you be heading for a crown or root canal? Are implants or dentures in employees’ future or are annual exams, cleanings and X-rays the extent of their dental needs? Make sure you are paying for services you need and getting the best value on those services. It’s not just about cost; it’s about coverage as well.
  5. How reputable is the dental benefits carrier? Make sure you’re working with an established company. Look at their company profile. How long have they been in business? Do they specialize in dental insurance? Are they local or national? There has been a lot of consolidation in the insurance industry. The amount of experience your dental insurance company has processing and paying dental claims is important. If dental insurance is not your insurance company’s main area of expertise, you could encounter difficulties with the handling your dental claims and payments.

Delta Dental of Arizona has been named the no. 1 dental insurance company by Ranking Arizona Magazine and the Phoenix Business Journal for 15 consecutive years. For over 40 years, we’ve focused on just one thing—dental insurance—and provide more than 892,000 enrollees with local customer service and a robust network consisting of 89% of the state’s dentists.3 

Plus, we’re a not-for-profit company whose mission is to improve lives by promoting optimal oral health. In fact, through the Delta Dental of Arizona Foundation, we’ve invested over $7 million into the community’s oral health needs since 1997. Find out about our dental plans for small businesses at www.deltadentalaz.com/shop-for-plans.


1. National Association of Colleges and Employers. Graduating Student & Alumni Survey, June 2006.
2. The Long Group Brand Selection Study, August 2009.
3. Based off the number of contracted Delta Dental dentists and dentists licensed with the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners licensed as of July 31, 2013.

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