Broker blog from Delta Dental

Author: Delta Dental (Page 2 of 10)

Stories to smile about: Robert

Dental care with dignity – war veteran gets his smile and his life back.

What if a healthy smile could restore dignity, improve your quality of life and career outlook? For one very deserving man, that’s exactly what happened when he visited one of the UNLV Delta Dental Saturday Morning Community Clinics.

After many years of suffering with teeth that caused physical and emotional pain, Vietnam Veteran Robert Bennett finally received the care his smile needed at the Sgt. Clint Ferrin Memorial Clinic, one of four dental clinics that make up the UNLV Delta Dental Saturday Morning Community Clinics.

This is what Robert had to say to UNLV about his experience at the clinic:

“It’s not only [that I was] happy with the care, it’s the professionalism that goes along with it — it’s the way you’re treated from the time you walk through the door, to the time that you get into the chair. And then the doctors that oversee what [the dental students] do and help, they come up constantly, and they introduce themselves and let you know what you’re going to be going through.

[They] had to surgically remove almost every tooth in my mouth, or what was left of my teeth. [After receiving treatment and a full set of dentures,] I’m eating and smiling and communicating with people again. It changes your life. I mean it just gives you your dignity back. You are somebody again. And I get to apply again for a job. Look what they did!”

Robert’s story is especially meaningful to us at Delta Dental. Last year, The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation granted $50,000 to support these clinics, which provide much needed dental care to underinsured and uninsured people throughout Southern Nevada.

Successes like this are the reason the Foundation exists — to improve health and enhance lives in the communities we serve. We’re so grateful for partners like the UNLV School of Dental Medicine, who give us opportunities like this one to make a real difference.

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Do you have a project that qualifies for funding? Visit the Foundation’s section of our website to learn more and apply for funding.

Policy pops: Medicaid expansion won many voters. Now what?

2-minute read

Join our guest blogger, Devin McBrayer, as she explains how the results of the midterm election affect Medicaid expansion across the country. Devin is a Legislative and Policy Analyst based in Sacramento, California.

The 2018 midterm election revealed that many Americans support Medicaid expansion: Three of four states with expansion on the ballot voted to approve it, and two of four gubernatorial candidates supporting Medicaid expansion won election. If these states are successful in growing their programs, access to dental care for low-income Americans will likely increase. However, the futures of these states’ Medicaid programs face political and financial obstacles.

Utah, Nebraska and Idaho voters approved expanding coverage to 300,000 low-income Americans, yet these states are already experiencing pushback or challenges:

  • In Idaho, while the ballot initiative to expand Medicaid passed with more than 60% of voters, Republicans in the state have filed a lawsuit against the ballot initiative saying that it violates parts of the state’s constitution.
  • Implementation efforts in Utah are likely to be blocked by conservatives in the state House of Representatives.
  • The Nebraska state legislature faces the difficult task of figuring out how to pay for the program.

Meanwhile, Montana voted to allow their existing Medicaid expansion to sunset in 2019, which means Montanans who previously gained health care coverage will lose it on January 1, 2019.

Complicating matters, in all states the 100% federal funding match for newly eligible Medicaid enrollees has begun to phase down. By 2020 the match will drop down to 90%, which will force states to finance a greater share of expansion costs.

Aside from ballot initiatives, four gubernatorial candidates ran with Medicaid expansion as a core part of their political platform. Two Democratic candidates supporting expansion won their races and flipped their state executive office, but the path to expansion isn’t clear.

  • In Wisconsin, Republicans in the state Assembly and Senate have already passed bills that could limit the powers of Governor-elect Tony Evers, including his Medicaid expansion efforts.
  • In the Kansas election that put Democrat Laura Kelly in the governor’s office, voters also elected a more conservative Legislature. Any bill seeking to expand Medicaid in Kansas will now have a tougher time getting to the governor’s desk.

The gubernatorial candidates supporting Medicaid expansion in Florida and Georgia lost their races, further lowering the possibility for expansion in these states.

Delta Dental will continue to monitor the impact of these elections and other trends that could have major impacts on low-income adults’ access to dental benefits and care across the country.

For more thought leadership from Delta Dental, subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for brokers, agents and consultants.

If you’re a benefits decision maker, administrator or HR professional, subscribe to our group newsletter, Word of Mouth.

Millennials love their insurance jobs?!

2-minute read

When Sarah Lee asked herself what she wanted to do when she grew up, she did what any millennial might do: She Googled it. “I searched ‘good at math, but don’t want to be a teacher’, and actuary was one of the first things that came up,” she says.

About a decade later, Lee is now happily in her second year as a senior actuarial analyst at Delta Dental. It might not sound like the most “millennial” career, but a job in the insurance industry offers more appeal to the rising workforce than it might seem on the surface.

A recent survey from Vertafore© found that “87% of millennials in the industry would recommend a career in insurance” to their friends. What’s more, 76% have been in insurance for more than three years and 72% plan to stay in the industry as long as possible, bucking the popular stereotype of millennial job hopping.

For millennials at Delta Dental, the excitement of an industry that’s always changing keeps them engaged at work.

“There’s always something new in your current role, so you never really get bored of what you’re doing,” says Ben Calderon, senior actuarial analyst. “That’s definitely important. I don’t want to feel stagnant in my position.”

Conversely, Calderon says millennials fuel the evolution of the industry with new ideas and skills.

That’s what attracted Shamekha Ghani to the newly created role of business intelligence manager at Delta Dental. Feeling like her previous position had gotten too routine, she jumped at the chance to “have a big impact” in her job.

“Millennials are very driven by learning, by having challenges,” she says. “They’re really concerned about their career development. They really want to feel like they’re making progress.”

Even in traditional roles, a fresh perspective can make a big difference. When Taylor Granville started at Delta Dental, she saw an opportunity to take her account manager position to a new level.

Granville was originally drawn to the client-facing nature of the role—rather than the world of insurance. But now she’s a major advocate for the importance of dental benefits, and she loves speaking with people and giving them the opportunity to enroll and improve their oral health.

“If you’re driven and you like to make a difference in people’s lives, then it’s definitely the industry to be in,” Granville says.

She adds that the strong insurance job market may allow young millennials to get a fast start on a career.

The intrigue of a stable job with room for advancement might sound old-fashioned, but it’s not completely lost on millennials.

“When I was choosing what career path to go down, I was really focused on [job] stability, and I feel like a lot of my peers were not,” Lee says.

The insurance industry might not seem flashy enough for some millennials, but the ones who found themselves at Delta Dental have found a lot to like. And they can see why 87% of their surveyed peers would recommend a job in insurance.

 

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If you’re a benefits decision maker, administrator or HR professional, subscribe to our group newsletter, Word of Mouth.

Help check enrollee notices off clients’ year-end to-do list

With the holiday season in full swing, sometimes the daily to-do lists can seem never-ending. That’s why we want to help your clients cross one thing off their list: Educating new enrollees — and reminding current enrollees — about their rights.

Federal and state laws require groups to notify enrollees about enrollee rights and privacy practices.1 The good news is, we’ve made it easy for your clients to share this information.

You can learn more about the notices on our administrator web pages. Enrollees can also view and download each notice on our website. Additionally, during open enrollment we provide groups with an enrollee flyer summarizing the notices.

Remind clients to share the notices with current enrollees annually, and with all new enrollees within 30 days of eligibility.

Here are some ways clients can share:

  • Post the notices on the company Intranet
  • Email employees a link to the notices
  • Place copies of the notices in common areas, or in the HR area
  • Include copies of the notices in your next company mailing

If clients or their enrollees have any questions about the notices, they can call 866-530-9675.

 

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If you’re a benefits decision maker, administrator or HR professional, subscribe to our group newsletter, Word of Mouth.

 

1 Self-funded groups are not required to share Delta Dental’s enrollee notices and may opt to use their own notices; however, these notices cannot be in conflict with Delta Dental’s practices. If clients have questions about the notices, they can contact their account manager.

The cost correlation: Dental benefits may lower businesses’ overall health spend

4-minute read

It’s common knowledge that oral health is linked to overall well-being. What might surprise you, however, is the significant impact employees’ oral health status can have on a business’s total health care budget. In fact, of the top 10 health conditions costing employers the most, five are linked to oral health.*

#1 Diabetes
Topping the list of costliest employer conditions is diabetes, affecting nearly one in 10 Americans. Not only do diabetics face a higher than normal risk for developing oral health problems like periodontal disease and oral infections, but these problems may be more severe for a diabetic person. It’s not all bad news though. It’s been suggested that treating gum disease can help control blood sugar in diabetic patients, which may slow disease progression. And, receiving routine dentist cleanings and practicing healthy oral hygiene habits may help to lower HbA1c levels (average blood glucose over time).

#2 Cancer
Oral cancer is likely not the first cancer that comes to mind for most of us. Yet, head and neck cancers (85% of which are oral) account for approximately $3.2 billion in treatment costs each year.

Oftentimes, the early symptoms of oral cancers go unnoticed by patients, making them particularly dangerous. That’s why regular dental exams are so important. Dentists and dental hygienists may be able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancers when they’re still in the early or even pre-cancerous stages.

#5 Heart disease

The dental industry has been aware of the correlation between heart disease and oral health for years, and supporting evidence continues to emerge. While we still can’t say the relationship between oral health and heart health is causal, new research suggests that poor dental health, including gum disease and infrequent toothbrushing, may be a risk factor for heart disease.

#6 Hypertension
Recently, an association between hypertension and dental health has also been found — specifically blood pressure control. A new study showed that those with gum disease were less likely to respond to hypertension medications than those with good oral health. The authors of this study go on to say that “those with high blood pressure might benefit from regular dental care”.

#10 High-risk pregnancy
Compared to the average employer medical costs for a healthy, full-term baby, the costs for premature and/or low-birth weight babies is nearly 12 times as much. While the relationship between periodontal disease and adverse pregnancy outcomes is still being explored, we do know that a mother’s health can impact her baby — and oral health is no exception. Research suggests that expectant mothers with poor oral health may face higher risks of pre-term delivery and of passing disease-causing bacteria to their child. This makes it even more important for expectant mothers to receive regular dental exams during pregnancy. The dentist can evaluate the individual needs of the mother and may even recommend an additional cleaning.

How can dental benefits help?

Regular dental care can help manage certain health conditions and even detect some early, which can help prevent costly medical expenses in the future.

However, dental benefits may be able to do more than cover routine dental care to improve wellness. Ask these questions to find out how well a dental carrier can boost overall health and your clients’ bottom line:

  • Is there extra support for those with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease? Providing additional coverage to enrollees with certain medical conditions may prevent or halt the progression of disease, which can help manage dental and medical expenses down the road.
  • How can clients track employees’ oral health status? Regular reporting on enrollees’ oral health habits can highlight where a group is doing well and help identify areas where enrollees can improve oral health, and in turn, improve overall health.
  • How is oral health supported during pregnancy? Are additional cleanings covered? An extra cleaning during pregnancy can lead to healthier babies and may lower certain pregnancy risks associated with oral bacteria.
  • Are oral health and wellness resources readily available? Enrollees may not even be aware of the impact oral health can have on their overall health. Carriers who provide valuable wellness resources can help encourage enrollees to be active participants in their oral health.

 

For more thought leadership from Delta Dental, subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for brokers, agents and consultants.

If you’re a benefits decision maker, administrator or HR professional, subscribe to our group newsletter, Word of Mouth.

 

*The oral health information in this article is not intended to be used as medical advice. Patients should always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning oral health.

How to keep yourself from “falling back” with daylight saving

Most of us look forward to snoozing an extra hour once a year when daylight-saving time ends. However, for many people, that additional hour of sleep is where the positive effects stop. When you add the season’s colder temps and bitter weather to its darker, shorter days, you’ve got the perfect recipe for the blues. With increasing evidence that happiness is tied to productivity, that’s probably a recipe you want to avoid. That’s why we’ve gathered these tips to help you stay happy and healthy in the coming months.*

Get moving.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again — physical activities help create endorphins, which are proven to boost happiness.

  • Participating in a team sport is a great way to get the blood pumping! Try a unique sport this winter like curling or broomball. For those that don’t like to compete, check out group fitness classes offered in your area.
  • There are also plenty of small steps — from taking the stairs to parking in the back forty — you can take to increase physical activity during the workday. Check out our previous article for advice on how to add more mobility in the office.

Build more friendships.
Friendships can be a powerful force when it comes to increasing happiness and productivity. Find ways to meet new people in and outside of the office. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Keep tabs on local events and invite a coworker
  • Join a book club
  • Sit with someone new on your lunchbreak
  • Volunteer at a new event

Take advantage of the sun (when it’s out).
The sun can be harder to find in the cooler months, but that makes it even more important to catch rays when you can. Sunlight could increase the brain’s production of serotonin, which is associated with mood boosting benefits. In fact, a lack of sun exposure has been linked to major seasonal depression. To help combat the darkness at the office, keep the blinds open and arrange your work station to receive as much natural light as possible. If it’s a particularly sunny day, get out for your lunchbreak to soak up some extra sun.

Don’t wait to seek help.
It’s estimated that 10 million Americans suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD), often referred to as the winter blues. If you start to feel symptoms of SAD or major depression, seek professional help. The good news: There are several treatment options available, and a doctor can help find the right path to recovery.

 

For more thought leadership from Delta Dental, subscribe to Insider Update, our newsletter for brokers, agents and consultants.

If you’re a benefits decision maker, administrator or HR professional, subscribe to our group newsletter, Word of Mouth.

 

*These tips are not meant to be taken as medical advice or as treatment for depression. If you or your employees are suffering from a mental illness, please seek professional help.

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