Avoiding the dentist is costing plans

Many Canadians are taking their dental insurance for granted, creating long-term problems for advisors and plan sponsors.

Avoiding the dentist is costing plans
Canadians are foregoing regular checkups and cleanings, which are creating additional costs for plan sponsors and headaches for advisors.

“Do you change the oil on your car? Yeah. Why? Because if you don’t go in and do an oil change down the road your engine is going to blow up,” said Ken MacCoy, Life, Disability & Employee Benefits Specialist at RitePartner Financial Services & MGA: Edge Benefits Inc.

“It’s the same thing with people who don’t go into have checkups or cleanings done and they’ll wait until they’re too far down the road and already have big cavities or instead of having to do a small filling you have to do a crown because half your tooth is missing.”

Not only can maintenance prevent oral issues, but according to Mayo Clinic article from 2013 good dental care can help detect or prevent conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis and premature birth.

The combination of oral and dental complications can add unnecessary stress on plans and drive costs up, shrinking advisors business. After hospital and medical payments (48 per cent), dental payments were the highest percentage of total health payments by benefit type at 22 per cent.

These costs are made worse because many Canadians are avoiding regular maintenance at the dentists. The gaps in coverage among small businesses are also becoming more pronounced. According to LIMRA, only 25 per cent of small businesses (under 100 employees) offered dental insurance in 2012. That’s down from 38 per cent in 2000.

In that sense, increased costs attached to dental coverage threaten business for advisors hawking group benefits plans.

“The reality is dental insurance, everybody should use it,” said MacCoy. “It’s preventative maintenance.”