Insider Update

Broker blog from Delta Dental

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Dentists seen as an economic indicator

The dental industry may be a good indicator of whether Americans have fully recovered from the pandemic, according to a June New York Times article. This is because dentists offer a unique service that has no clear alternative.

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit the U.S. in early March, the national economy has seen a downturn and a subsequent uptick. The dental industry experienced an amplified version of these national employment trends, with half of all dental workers losing their jobs in March and April, and 94% of dentist offices rehiring their full staff by mid-August.

Getting dentists back into the office

Stimulus programs may be a key factor in helping dentists to weather this storm. Practices that took part in the federal Paycheck Protection Program were more likely to remain open than those that didn’t.

Even after job gains since June, the dental industry still has 289,000 fewer workers than it did before the pandemic. That suggests to Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economics professor quoted in the Times article, that the industry — and the rest of the American economy — is far from recovered.

What does the future look like?

Though dentist offices have been open for several months, it’s unclear whether their patient bases will return. In mid-June, most states gave dentist offices the go-ahead to reopen fully, but in August patient volumes were still lower than what they were before the pandemic. The rate at which patients were returning has even tapered off as of mid-August and some economists don’t predict patient volumes to return fully before the end of 2020.

This hesitation is a sign of multiple problems facing patients during the pandemic. Some patients may feel cautious about removing their masks for a close-up procedure. Others may think that since they haven’t noticed any dental issues since the pandemic started, they can go a little longer without getting a dental cleaning. Some people can simply no longer afford dental procedures after losing their jobs and their insurance benefits through their employers. Economists who spoke to the Times predict that employment rates for dentists will eventually return to where they were before the virus hit, even though it may be slow going.

Add vision and hearing deals to your dental sales

Delta Dental plans have always been great when it comes to oral health and wellness. With the addition of deals on LASIK eye surgery from QualSight and hearing aids from Amplifon, your clients can get even more value from their plans.

What can QualSight and Amplifon do for you? 

Every Delta Dental enrollee now has access to great deals on hearing aids and LASIK eye surgery from QualSight and Amplifon. This means your clients can get discounts of 40–50% off the average price of traditional LASIK from QualSight’s experienced surgeons. With Amplifon, they get an average of 62% off retail hearing aid pricing, backed by a best price guarantee.

Vision corrective services and Amplifon’s hearing health care services aren’t insured benefits. Delta Dental makes the vision corrective services program and hearing health care services program available to enrollees to provide access to the preferred pricing for these services.

What does this mean for you?

Now the Delta Dental plans you sell come with even more value-added services, with no extra effort on your end. After your clients buy a Delta Dental plan, they can call QualSight and Amplifon directly to take advantage of the discounts. The dedicated representatives from QualSight and Amplifon will walk them through the process, including scheduling appointments and coordinating follow-up care. There’s even a flyer you can print or send to your clients.

Now what?

To learn more about these deals and see your other resources, take a look at your broker resources page or download the brochure. You can also visit QualSight and Amplifon’s pages for Delta Dental enrollees.


Direct deposit puts commissions on a schedule

There are many good reasons to automating your commissions, especially in times of economic uncertainty.

What are the advantages of setting up direct deposits?

  • Timing. With direct deposit, you receive your commissions on the 10th  of the month, every month. This predictable schedule helps you more accurately plan your finances. Rather than waiting for checks to arrive and clear, you’ll always know when the money reaches your account.
  • Convenience. Make regular trips to the bank a thing of the past. Direct deposit saves you driving time, traffic stress, potential mail delays and long ATM lines. Besides, what’s easier than automatic?
  • Security. In case of mishap, learning what went wrong with a direct deposit is as simple as calling or emailing your financial institution. Direct electronic transfers make stolen letters, mail delays and incorrect deliveries a thing of the past.

How to sign up for direct deposit

If you’re interested in direct deposit, it’s simple to set up. Log in to your online account. Then go to the Business Information tab and then the Payment Information tab. Your payments will be sent directly to your account by the 10th business day of the month.

If you’d rather, fill out the direct deposit form (PDF, 90 KB) and scan a voided check. Save the completed form, then send both to producer-commissions@delta.org.


Teledentistry: what it is, and what it means for your clients

Businesses, schools and public space have been reopening for months now, and that includes dental offices. As part of the reopening efforts, more dentists and their patients have turned to teledentistry, an emerging trend that has the power to reshape the industry as we know it. Here are some common questions about teledentistry, as well as our thoughts about the impact teledentistry will have on the industry and how Delta Dental is addressing it.

What is teledentistry?

Teledentistry is when a dentist conducts a virtual consultation via phone, text or video to diagnose issues, offer care advice and determine if an in-person visit is necessary.

Teledentistry appointments can be synchronous, such as a video call where the dentist and patient are interacting with each other, or asynchronous, such as when the patient sends a description of his or her situation and a photo and waits for a reply.

Are teledentistry appointments covered by insurance?

Yes. Delta Dental covers teledentistry services as problem-focused exams. That means they fall into the category of diagnostic care, and are subject to the same rules and limitations (for example, D&P is usually covered at no cost to the patient, but only a certain number of such appointments are covered each year).

What kind of equipment is needed for teledentistry appointments?

The equipment and software needed may vary based on dentists’ preferences and capabilities. Teledentistry may require nothing more than a phone or may require a smart device, computer or specialized app.

If dental offices are reopening, why is teledentistry relevant?

Dentist offices may open, but that doesn’t mean that patients won’t benefit from teledentistry solutions. Just as working from home has shown the value of video meetings and connecting with coworkers without being in person, patients may find teledentistry a useful option when seeking dental care.

Additionally, not all patients are willing to return to the dentists. Surveys this past August by the American Dental Association (ADA) have found that 15% of people are waiting for a medical breakthrough such as a vaccine before they’ll go back to the dentist. Whether your clients are eager or hesitant to return the dentist, teledentistry is the perfect tool for staying in touch, getting care and getting advice without going into the dentist’s office.

What is Delta Dental doing with regards to teledentistry?

Delta Dental covers teledentistry appointments at the same benefit levels as diagnostic services to ensure that enrollees have coverage for their dental needs while staying safe from COVID-19. We’re encouraging dentists to use teledentistry for emergency diagnoses and non-emergency consultations. Delta Dental dentists are also eligible for discounts on teledentistry services. What’s more, Delta Dental is looking into partnerships with teledentistry companies to improve the experience for both dentists and their patients.

How will teledentistry change the industry?

COVID-19 has been disruptive to the entire economy, and the dental industry is no exception. That disruption is more than just economic, however. Expectations about what it means to go to the dentist are also changing. Dental patients may expect teledentistry to be included as a standard part of any insurance plan (for example, Kaiser Permanente is launching plans with a heavy focus on telehealth) and they may shy away from plans and dentists that can’t accommodate it. Patients who live in remote areas may also find expanded access to professional care because of teledentistry.

For dentists, teledentistry is more than just another option or add-on when it comes to providing care and in-person treatments. It may become a new source of income in the form of seeing more patients virtually.

For brokers, staying on top of the latest developments, industry best practices and customer expectations about teledentistry will become ever more important.

Your sale, your broker link, your reward

When selling insurance, getting credit for a sale can be the difference between a nice commission and wasted effort. That’s why we’ve made it easier for you to get credit for online enrollments, no matter where or when your client chooses to enroll.

Broker links credit your effort

Your unique broker link connects your clients to our instant quoting and enrollment flow, automatically crediting you for the sale when they enroll online. Share it with your clients on brochures, emails, websites and the rest of your marketing materials. The more places your clients can see that link, the more likely you are to get credit.

Finding your broker link

To find your broker link, log in to your online account and select the Business Information tab. Then, choose the Links section after your business information. If you don’t have your unique broker link or need more guidance, just email producerservices@delta.org or call 866–760-4080.

More ways to get credit

On the online enrollment application, tell clients to click “Yes” when asked “Are you working with an insurance agent or broker?” Then have them enter your broker number in the Broker Number field.

When your clients are filling out printed applications, remind them to add your Delta Dental information, including your broker number, in the Agent/Producer Information section.

For additional information about selling, commissions, appointment and more, visit our broker resources page.


Grin! for Kids: a value-added resource for family dental plans

Educating families about dental care in creative ways raises prospects for buy-in to a Delta Dental plan. The way to engage children in dental care is to give them opportunities to learn about taking care of the teeth, gums and mouth so their smiles are healthy.

Grin! for Kids is a coloring and activity book with fun, educational projects for children in grades K‑5. It is a free resource that adds value to a Delta Dental plan. The book can be printed out at home for easy access, as parents show children about preventive care in taking advantage of plan benefits.

Each issue of Grin! for Kids, available in English and Spanish, contains new ideas and information that families can share as they maintain regular visits to their dentist under their plan.

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