For most people, visiting the dentist is probably not on their list of “top 10 favorite things to do.” But it’s an important part of maintaining good overall health. And employers stand to benefit when employees visit the dentist on a regular basis because studies have shown a correlation between receiving regular preventive dental care and lower dental costs. In fact, according to a Cigna Dental study,1 members who received regular preventive care over a five-year period saw dental costs decline steadily – with average savings of 31% PMPY in the 18 to 64 age group. That same group also saw a reduced number of visits to an emergency room (36% less) and admissions to a hospital (39% less).
It’s clear that practicing proper preventive dental care now can reduce dental costs down the road, so the question for most employers becomes, “How do we encourage and empower our employees to take advantage of these important services and maximize the value of their dental benefits?” There seems to be plenty of opportunity for employers to educate and engage their employees when it comes to benefits. According to LIMRA, benefits account for up to 30% of total employee compensation, and yet, employers allocate limited resources and personnel to make sure that their employees understand and value those benefits.2 The gap becomes even more clear when employers are surveyed about their efforts.
Did you know?
- Six in 10 employers do not have a formal benefits communications plan.2
- Nine in 10 of those who do have a plan never measure its success.2
It’s natural to look to the carrier coverage for help
After all, employers typically choose a dental carrier to provide a whole host of services, including access to a network of discounted providers, claim management and customer education (just to name a few). But what else can a carrier do to help engage customers to make the most of their plan and get the dental care they need?
The answer lies in another question – “What do customers want from a dental plan and their experience at the dentist office, and how do employers and insurers respond to those needs?”
There are a lot of things that are important to dental customers, but two items stand out.3
1. They want to know the dentist accepts their insurance.
2. They want to know that the dental office staff is recommended, based on patient reviews.
Dental carriers who want to stay ahead of the curve recognize the importance of preventive dental care and responding to the expectations of today’s consumer. But many may not recognize the role they can play in engaging and empowering customers with the kind of information that can help them choose the right dentist for their needs, within a network designed to help them save on dental costs.
In 2016, Cigna Dental was the first carrier to integrate Brighter.com tools into its provider directory for an innovative customer experience that provides the very information patients say is important to them.
When customers search for providers on myCigna.com, they get immediate access to dentist profiles that include detailed information about years of experience, professional affiliations, any professional sanctions, areas of specialty and even photos and videos of the practice.4 Customers can also see how providers compare through the Brighter Score® feature which provides a rating based on factors such as professional history and verified patient reviews to easily see who may be the best fit for their needs.4
When Cigna Dental customers use myCigna.com, they can not only search our networks for a dentist who meets their needs, they can also view estimated costs, based on their specific plan. This information helps them understand how different network dentists may charge different amounts for the same service, and choose accordingly.4
In addition to these tools that respond directly to the needs of customers, Cigna Dental also offers customers the ability to schedule appointments right online (for dentists who offer this service) once they choose a dentist.4
Engaged members can drive more savings
The tools provided on the myCigna® website are working. And we know because our customers are telling us they are. Cigna Dental DPPO customers surveyed on myCigna.com were very positive about their experience.
- 94% find the dentist reviews helpful in choosing a provider5
- 37% of those surveyed say they would change dentists based on the search tools5
We’ve also seen the impact the use of myCigna.com has on costs and network utilization. In a Cigna Dental clinical study, we reviewed claims for two groups of customers; one group visited myCigna.com and had a claim, and the other group did not visit myCigna.com and had a claim. The results?
- Customers who visited myCigna.com and had a claim had 8.6% more in-network claims and saved, on average, 36.2% more than customers who did not visit myCigna.com.6
When customers can access tools to help them save on their dental care, it’s a win-win for the customer and the employer. Savings to the customer help them make the most of their dental plan dollars, and savings through improved network utilization help clients maximize the money they invest in dental benefits.
1 Preventive Dental Treatment Associated with Lower Medical Utilization and Costs,” national Cigna study presented at the International Association for Dental Research Meeting, March 2015, Boston. Updated with additional 2018 data.
2 “Engagement Index and Enrollment Practices” 2016 LIMRA Employer Study.
3 “What Dental Patients Want.” 2016 Futuredontics Whitepaper.
4 Actual features may vary by dentist and plan type. Appointment scheduling feature may not be available with all dentists depending on dentist participation and dental plan type. These and other dentist directory features are for educational purposes only and should not be the sole basis for decision-making. They are not a guarantee of the quality of care that will be provided to individual patients and customers should consider all relevant factors when selecting a dentist.
5 myCigna Opinion Lab Survey, July 13, 2016.
6 Cigna 7/2018 analysis of dental claims and myCigna.com activity between 2/1/17–4/30/18.
Group dental plans are insured and/or administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company or its affiliates. Cigna Dental PPO plans are offered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC) with network management services provided by Cigna Dental Health, Inc. and certain of its subsidiaries. In Texas, the insured dental plan is referred to as Cigna Dental Choice and this plan uses the national Cigna DPPO network. Plans and insurance policies contain exclusions and limitations and may not be available in all areas. For costs and details of coverage, contact a Cigna representative. DPPO policy forms: OK – HP-POL99/HP-POL388, OR - HP-POL68/HP-POL352, TN – HP-POL69/HC-CER2V1/HP-POL389 et al. (CHLIC).