Crain's Communications has posted an
article on how dental benefits are faring in the economy. The
article cites a survey
conducted by CDS last fall that found 22 percent of Chicagoans
had a family member with an untreated dental issue and almost half
were without insurance.
In addition, the American Dental Association reports that its
survey of members has found "dentists' decreased incomes and gross billings
decreased in the fourth quarter of 2008 vs. the third quarter."
First-quarter 2009 statistics do show "a small improvement," the
news is still bad, said Wayne Wendling, managing VP of the ADA's
Health Policy Resource Center, to
However, employers and employment consultants are saying that
dental benefits coverage--and employees' use of the benefit is
"While we hear
from dentists that the amount of work being done is less than it
was last year, our claim activity does not show that,'' said Jon
Seltenheim, senior vp of customer service operations at dental
insurer United Concordia Cos. Inc. in Harrisburg, Pa.
"The dentists that I speak with are saying they are having fewer
requests for cosmetic procedures and in some cases are seeing
openings in their hygiene schedules, which they rarely see, but
it's too early to have any strong conclusions. Hopefully, we'll see
some clarity in the middle part of the third quarter," Mr.
One insurer tells reporter Louise Kertesz that fear of layoffs may
be spiking demand for preventative dental services:
Chris Swanker, VP
of group dental and vision for New York-based Guardian Life
Insurance Co. of America, said the industry's emphasis on
preventive services, plan designs that stretch benefits-including
allowing annual maximums to roll over-and fears of layoffs are
"driving a fairly substantial increase in utilization...."
Mr. Hirschberg said there has been "some trail-off'' in use of
higher-cost services such as orthodontia, which is covered at 50%
up to a certain maximum. "There's a slowdown, not that it fell off
the ledge," he said.
the full article
. Related: the ADA will be hosting its annual
Dental Benefits Conference
in August in Chicago. Attendance for
members is free.