The pandemic has been difficult for young adults. More than half of 18- to 29-year-olds are living with their parents, which is the most since the Great Depression, according to a recent Pew Research analysis. Millennials and Gen Z employees lost their jobs first when the pandemic hit and moved in with their parents to save money and get health care coverage.

But time is running out for them. Many fall off their parents’ dental coverage at age 26. This creates an opportunity for you to sign up young adults for individual coverage. How do you do this? Let’s take a closer look.

Why young adults lack dental coverage

The Affordable Care Act requires plans that have dependent child coverage to extend it until an adult child reaches the age of 26, even if the child is a student or has moved out, gotten married or had a child. Adult children on their parents’ Marketplace plan can generally remain covered through December 31 of the year they turn 26.

But they’re not seeking other insurance after this occurs. After 26, there’s a drop-off in dental coverage for young adults. In 2021, Delta Dental claims decreased about 20% after age 26, which is the largest year-to-year drop by age.

Why is this?

  • Many young people lack employer-sponsored dental coverage. Almost one in every four workers ages 20 to 34 wasn’t working in 2020, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Those who are working may pick up health insurance from their employer, but only 40% of employees received dental benefits from private employers in March 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Young people may not consider their dental health. Young adults have a tendency to feel invincible, and this feeling overrides any dental health concerns they may have. They’re not thinking about the long-term effects of poor oral health when they are going out on a night with friends, having a latte, or buying a new gadget or expensive vacation.

Selling strategies

To sell to Gen Z and millennials, you need to focus on the immediate benefits of dental insurance. Delta Dental PPO™ plans cover 100% of diagnostic and preventive services, so all members need to do is make an appointment and show up. Two exams a year, coupled with x‑rays and professional cleanings, can pay for their premiums.

Second, make buying easy. Convenience is big for young people. Since they’re used to buying services and products on a smartphone or tablet, make sure you have an online presence with an easy way to compare and purchase plans. And remember to include your unique broker link on your marketing materials.

Finally, stress the long-term impact of dental insurance on their wallet. If left untreated, a cavity can progress to the point where a patient may need a root canal, crown or even an implant. Uninsured patients can pay an average of $2,600 out of pocket on these procedures, according to data for 2021. That’s compared with only about $550 out of pocket for patients with Delta Dental PPO. These figures are for illustrative purposes only, but they show the ultimate savings that dental insurance provides.

Delta Dental offers options 

So, what plan should they buy?

Young adults who are coming off their parents’ plan may want to keep their family dentist. In this case, the Delta Dental PPO plan, which lets them go to any dentist, would be ideal for prospective buyers. They can choose between the Basic Plan and the Premium Plan, depending on their budget and needs.

If young people are concerned about money, DeltaCare® USA, a DHMO-type plan may be a good fit. This plan has no deductibles or plan maximums, and it’s easy to see what services are covered. This makes it easy to understand for consumers unfamiliar with dental insurance. Members have to choose an in-network dentist, but they pay a fixed copayment for covered procedures, so it’s easy to budget for dental expenses.

Delta Dental members also have access to perks such as:

You can also use our broker resources for selling, including brochures, videos and on-demand webinars with tips on selling individual plans.

You may not be selling a new device or a thrilling vacation to young adults, but if you keep the focus on what they’ll get in the immediate future as well as down the road, they may think twice before buying that latte next time and set aside some money for their dental premium.