4 Steps to Help Employees Budget for Dental Care

Professional woman standing near a whiteboard and checking items off her to-do list to help her employees budget for dental care

Taking better care of one’s health and sticking to a budget top the New Year’s resolution charts each year. As an employer, you may be resolving to help your employees work toward these goals. It’s no secret that a healthier and happier workforce can help your company reach its yearly goals too! One way to help employees check off both their health and financial resolutions is to support them in budgeting for dental expenses.

Step 1: Offer Dental Insurance

The best way to help employees budget for dental expenses is by offering great dental coverage. Dental insurance plans often cover 100% of routine preventive services like checkups and cleanings. Dental insurance also lowers out-of-pocket costs by paying a portion of many procedures.

Another perk of offering dental insurance is improved employee wellness. Delta Dental’s Adult Oral Health and Well-Being Survey revealed that Arizonans with dental insurance are 27% more likely than those without to visit the dentist at least once a year. And those that see the dentist regularly are more likely to catch costly and serious issues early on while they are easy to treat.

Step 2: Help Employees Understand Their Dental Insurance Plan

Educate employees on what their dental insurance plan covers and what portion they may have to pay. Let them know if the plan has limitations and help them understand which services are covered. Use real world scenarios to explain common dental insurance terms. Here’s an example that may come in handy:

John and his family go for a hike on Camelback Mountain. On their way up, John trips on a rock, falls and chips a tooth! He isn’t in extreme pain, but he knows he should see a dentist. His employer has talked about how visiting an in-network dentist can save money, so John always sees a dentist that is in his plan’s network. When the dentist examines his chipped tooth, she tells him a filling is needed to rebuild the tooth. Here’s what John can expect:¹

¹Check your specific plan details, as coverage will vary based on the plan.
  • John would normally be responsible for paying his deductible before his plan begins to pay for covered services, but his family met their deductible earlier in the year when his kids received sealants on their back teeth.
  • On John’s plan, fillings are considered a basic service and are covered at 60%.
  • This 60% is his coinsurance; his plan will pay 60% of the treatment cost and he will pay the remaining 40%.
  • Because John saw a network dentist, he will not be balance billed, meaning the dentist cannot bill John for the difference if their fee for the service exceeds the plan’s allowed amount.
  • The amount the plan pays for this treatment will go toward John’s annual benefit maximum. The annual maximum is the total amount a plan will pay for dental care in a benefit year.

This quick scenario showcases the importance of visiting a network dentist and the patient’s financial responsibility based on their plan’s coverage. It is also a great reminder that while we may budget for dental care, accidents happen. It’s always a good idea to add a little wiggle room (pun intended) to your budget for unexpected expenses.

Step 3: Encourage Employees to Calculate Costs

Encourage employees to work with their dentist to create a long-term treatment plan. Let them know they can always ask their dentist to request a pre-treatment estimate. Pre-treatment estimates are typically most helpful when it comes to budgeting for expensive procedures, such as crowns, wisdom teeth removal, dentures or periodontal surgery.

Once employees know how much they likely need to pay for treatments, they can calculate their annual budget for dental expenses. If possible, they should save a little more to account for possible emergencies and other unplanned costs.

Step 4: Make it Easy for Employees to Save

If you offer a flexible spending account (FSA), make sure employees know they can save pre-tax contributions to spend on qualifying dental expenses. If employees have the option to sign up for a health savings account (HSA), give them a list of qualified expenses to keep handy. In some cases, things like fluoride treatments and orthodontic care can be considered qualified medical expenses.  

If you don’t offer an FSA or HSA, show employees how to automatically divvy up their paycheck into multiple accounts, like a checking and savings. This can help encourage employees to save and prepare for the coming year’s dental expenses.



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