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Blue @ Work

What to know about voluntary (employee-paid) dental

With 68 percent of employees considering dental benefits as important External Site when deciding whether to stay at their current job or move to a new one, a competitive benefits package — including great dental coverage — could make the difference in attracting and retaining the best talent.

There’s no question that regular dental check-ups are important for your employees’ health, not just for keeping their teeth clean, but for their overall health. While it’s nice to have a pearly white smile, good oral health is particularly important for employees with certain health conditions, including:

  • Diabetes: People with diabetes have a higher chance of having gum disease — an infection of the gum and bone — which can lead to pain, persistent bad breath, chewing difficulties and tooth loss, in some cases.
  • Pregnancy: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the children of mothers who have untreated cavities or tooth loss are more than 3 times more likely to have cavities External Site themselves.
  • Heart conditions: Gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease, and poor oral health increases the risk of a bacterial infection in the blood stream, which can impact the heart valves.

Learn more about supporting employees with specific conditions by searching for the "Services to Smile About" flyer (M-0020840) in the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit Secure Site.

Not only is an incomplete benefits package a risk to talent and harmful to employees with certain conditions, but poor dental hygiene is costly to employers. Studies show that there's an estimated $54 billion loss in productivity External Site due to oral health issues that lead to increased work absences. If you're looking for ways to support your employees' oral hygiene while keeping overall costs down, voluntary dental insurance might be the solution.

What is voluntary dental insurance?

While you may have heard of a contributory medical or dental plan where you, as the employer, contribute at least 50 percent toward the premium; or a noncontributory plan where the employer pays 100 percent of the premium, there's another option available. Voluntary benefits are offered by an employer but are supported 100 percent by the employee through regular payroll deductions, and the employee pays the full cost of the premium.

Voluntary benefits are becoming more popular External Site among employees. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee participation in voluntary benefits is growing and more employees selected a voluntary benefits option in 2022, compared to previous years.

The challenge for encouraging participation in voluntary benefits is that, often, employees may hesitate to enroll because they don't understand the benefits External Site. Communicating about new benefit options ahead of an upcoming open enrollment period is key to helping them feel more comfortable and informed. Most employees (67 percent) prefer email External Site over other forms of communication.

Typically, voluntary benefits plans offer the same services and cost-share levels as other benefit designs. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield's voluntary dental plan offers two options, so your employees can choose the coverage that suits their needs best.

Considering adding voluntary dental benefits?

Research shows proper dental care can help avoid complications from certain health conditions. Log in and search for item M-5020693 in the Marketing Toolkit to see costs for large groups and learn about Wellmark's voluntary dental options.

Among employers, interest in voluntary benefits is growing, too. Aon reported External Site that it had a 41 percent increase in employers who offered employees new or additional voluntary benefits between 2021 and 2022.

Why a voluntary dental plan might benefit you

There are two benefits to offering voluntary dental to your employees:

  1. Attracting and retaining talent — The competition to attract the best talent can be fierce in today's employment landscape and a good benefits package can make the difference. Employees are looking for a complete benefits package when they are job searching and voluntary benefits make it easy to offer a range of benefits without contributing to your bottom line.
  2. Cost savings — Because dental benefits are elected and paid for by the employee, almost no cost is incurred by adding a voluntary coverage option. Even businesses with a tight budget can offer a robust dental benefits package to employees with Wellmark's voluntary dental benefit. There are cost-savings for your employees, too, because employees can take advantage of a dental plan at group health insurance rates, which are generally lower than the cost of individual health insurance External Site.

Voluntary dental could benefit your business

Wellmark's voluntary dental plan design is available to large, midsize and small groups. If you are a large group interested in exploring the voluntary dental benefit for your organization, you can see voluntary dental plans for large groups and compare cost options by visiting the Wellmark Marketing Toolkit Secure Site and searching M-5020693.

If you are a midsize or small group, contact your authorized Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield account representative to discuss plan options, or email us at Send Email.