Broker blog from Delta Dental

Tag: benefits

Dental care for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

Happy National Deaf History Month! If you haven’t heard of this season, it runs from March 13 to April 15. Nearly 15% of adult Americans report trouble hearing, so your clients may have employees with hearing issues and aren’t even aware of it! Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals face some unique challenges when it comes to getting dental care. Even making an appointment can be difficult. Fortunately, there are solutions available to ensure that no problem is insurmountable. Here are some of the common issues that people who are deaf and hard of hearing can encounter and what Delta Dental does to help solve them.

Challenges and considerations

When it comes to getting quality dental care, challenges can start before people who are deaf and hard of hearing ever set foot in the office.

  • The deaf and hard-of-hearing can have difficulty just making appointments. Not every office will have someone fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) on staff, but if an office isn’t set up to schedule appointments by text or email, it can be impossible for deaf patients to even step foot inside.
  • Dentists that don’t speak clearly, slowly and while looking at members make it hard to read lips. The deaf and hard of hearing may rely more on lip-reading than others. Seeing a dentist who is in a hurry or who talks while moving all about the practice can make it more difficult for the deaf and hard-of-hearing to follow what’s being said. To make things even harder, the fact that everyone is wearing masks because of COVID-19 only compounds this issue.
  • People may not even realize that they’re hard-of-hearing. Because most everyone loses some of their hearing as they get older, the change can happen so gradually that some people aren’t even aware of it. Attentive dentists can notice when their patients seem to have difficulty with hearing them or following a conversation and adjust accordingly.

Solutions and resources

Whether a person has recently become hard of hearing or has been deaf since birth, there are two major tools available to help them.

  • The Language Assistance Program (LAP). The LAP is a free service that Delta Dental members can use to get professional interpretive services for their non-English needs. This includes phone assistance, written materials and more, including an in-person translator when given 72 hours’ notice. Most importantly for deaf patients, this means that they can have an interpreter fluent in ASL accompany them to their dental visits!
  • The Find a Dentist search tool. The Find a Dentist search tool is perfect for members looking to find an in-network dentist that fits their specific needs. Members can search by distance and specialty, but they can also search for dentists by the languages their offices support and available accessibility features, including dentist offices where the staff is fluent in ASL!

More than 35 million people in the United States report having trouble hearing, whether they suffer from mild hearing loss or are completely deaf, so it’s essential for your clients that their dental coverage take this into consideration. Fortunately, valuable services like the Language Assistance Program and thoughtful features like the Find a Dentist search tool make it easier for deaf and hard-of-hearing members to get their dental needs taken care of.

Why companies need ancillary benefits

Dentist documents findings during an exam with patient.

By offering companies a way to enhance their employee benefit package, you are providing them a marketplace advantage for retaining a motivated, healthy workforce.

Nearly 60% of responding hiring managers, human resources professionals and workers identified better benefits as a key strategy to strengthen connections with employees and reduce turnover, according to a 2018 Career Builder survey. To achieve this goal, companies are looking to add ancillary benefits.

What are ancillary benefits?

An ancillary benefit covers a specific need not addressed by the group medical insurance plan. Dental, vision, life, disability and even pet insurance are complementary products that can be integrated into company benefit packages.

This is how companies can strengthen connections with their employees. Ancillary benefits deliver value through access to health care plans and financial solutions that enhance total wellness, lower out-of-pocket expenses and give peace of mind.

What is the value of an ancillary benefit?

Through ancillary benefits, companies show that their priorities match employees’ priorities. According to an American Dental Association survey, 30% of young adults have tooth decay, 35% reported difficulty biting or chewing and feeling embarrassment at the condition of their teeth and 59% of respondents reported cost as the top reason for not visiting the dentist. 

Companies saved $5.8 billion over four years by offering stand-along vision plans, according to a study by the HCMS Group. Widespread computer use can lead to digital eye strain, and plans generally include coverage for a comprehensive eye exam, contact lenses or glasses, and allowances for LASIK or PRK refractive surgery.

Although 75% of millennials don’t carry life insurance, this benefit becomes more important to them in later stages of their careers. The average worker has a 30% chance of becoming disabled, so a short-term or long-term insurance plan provides backup. Millennials make up 35% of all pet owners, and a 2018 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management revealed that 11% of U.S. employers offered pet insurance, up from 6% in 2014, and one in three Fortune 500 companies offered it.

Companies can use surveys to find out what employees are seeking, and then shape ancillary benefit options accordingly. You can help employers achieve their strategic goal by providing what their employees want.

Why should companies offer ancillary benefits?

As an ancillary benefit, a dental insurance plan, for example, includes diagnostic and preventive services that go beyond maintaining employees’ oral health. Dentists not only evaluate periodontal disease but also diagnose symptoms of major health issues, such as diabetes, during routine exams. Early detection enables employees to seek treatment that may avoid more expensive interventions. It can help your company control long-term health care costs and provide financial stability for employees.

In a vision insurance plan, an annual eye exam can reveal symptoms of chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood sugar or high cholesterol.

When you show the return on investment in an ancillary benefit to a company, through cost of premiums versus cost of claims, it can support the case for adding it for employees. You can offer a Delta Dental plan that easily complements, and integrates with, an existing group medical plan. This ancillary benefit can increase both workers’ job satisfaction and wellness.

Dental implants are coming to DeltaCare USA

A new kind of large group plan is coming to DeltaCare® USA plans in 2021. Effective January 1, 2021, DeltaCare USA i‑series plans will be available with comprehensive coverage for dental implants. Once i‑series plan rollouts are complete (there will be nine in total), they will be available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

These plans are designed to address the growing demand for dental implants. The same outstanding features that DeltaCare USA plans are known for, like affordable prices, coverage for orthodontics and coverage for teeth whitening are all still here, too. With this updated value proposition of enhanced benefits and consistent coverage, offering DeltaCare USA is a more attractive proposition than ever before.

For more information, please contact your account manager.

© 2021 Insider Update

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑