Four Questions to Ask Before Purchasing Dental Insurance for your Employees

If you’re a small employer with 50 or fewer employees, you might be wondering what benefits you need to provide to attract and keep valuable talent. You want to offer attractive benefits on a cost-effective, sustainable basis for yourself, your family and your employees. Health care benefits are expected and often mandatory, but are dental benefits worthwhile?

A 2015 Glassdoor study found that health, dental and vision insurance topped the list as benefits that employees feel would affect their decision to accept a job offer.

Before you decide to add dental benefits to your employees’ wage and benefit package, it pays to first ask these questions:

Q     Am I legally required to offer my employees dental coverage?

A     You’re not legally required to offer dental coverage, although many companies do because it enhances their benefits package.


Q     What are the different types of dental coverage?

A     Like a health benefit plan, most dental plans require you to choose a provider network. Each network has a list of doctors that members are required to see to get the contracted discount. Your options include:

  • Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMO) have the lowest premiums and are similar to a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Members must choose a provider in the network for exams and treatments to be covered, but there is no limit to the number of services they can receive. They also need a primary in-network doctor or dentist to provide referrals to see a specialist.
  • Dental Preferred Provider Organizations (DPPO) cost more than a DHMO, but have a larger network. Members can see a doctor who is out of network, but it will cost more. Members usually have to meet a deductible before a carrier shares costs. No provider referrals are needed to see a specialist.
  • Participating Dental Networks (PDN) are a hybrid of a DHMO and DPPO. They have a smaller network than DPPOs, but premiums are lower.
  • Dental Indemnity Insurance Plans do not have a network and members can see any dentist. They also have the highest premiums. The carrier covers a set amount for each procedure and members must pay the rest of the bill. There are also deductibles that must be met and copayments similar to a DPPO.


Q     What other factors affect costs for me and my employees?

A     Plan costs vary depending on levels of coverage:

  • Full coverage provides annual or biannual cleanings/exams and a small percentage of major dental procedures, such as a root canal, or minor procedures, such as filling a cavity.
  • Minor coverage provides annual or biannual cleanings/exams and partial to full coverage of minor procedures, such as filling cavities. This option doesn’t cover major procedures.

Plan costs for you and your employees will depend on the type of coverage you choose and how much of the premium you decide to pay for. Your options include:

  • Paying 100 percent of the costs if you decide to choose a fully funded plan.
  • Paying about 80 percent of the costs with a partially-funded plan; employees pay the remainder.
  • Paying nothing – employees are responsible for the entire cost of the premiums, while you would cover administrative costs and payroll deductions.

Dental experts estimate that most small employers, who cover 75 percent of employee costs for individual coverage, will probably pay about $25 – $50 each month per person.


Q        Who can provide me with advice and coverage?

A        If you’re interested in offering coverage to your employees, please let us know.  We will interview you about your financial resources; show you policy options; customize a plan to meet your needs; keep your plan current on changing regulations; and handle policy renewals.

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