The value of employee vision and dental coverage

As you build or refine a benefits package for your company’s next open enrollment period, you may be tempted to cut costs by eliminating certain specialty benefits. However, there are several compelling reasons to keep or add these types of plans, such as vision, dental, hearing and critical illness coverage. 

Vision and dental plans are among the most popular types of specialty coverage. In one recent survey, 84% of employees said they consider it “important” to have access to them when selecting benefits.

Because these plans are considered essential by many, employers offering a comprehensive package that integrates vision and dental benefits with medical coverage may help improve overall employee satisfaction and retention — and contribute to a culture of health.

But there’s another upside — an important connection to overall health and the cost of achieving it.

“There’s growing evidence dental and vision checks can act as early indicators of broader physical health concerns, including by identifying issues not usually associated with the eyes or mouth,” said Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. “As such, including these benefits may serve as a key strategy in helping employees to prevent or better manage certain chronic conditions — which may help improve well-being, reduce the frequency of missed workdays and reduce lower health care costs for workers and employers.” 

Vision: The eye is the only place in the body where a doctor can see the action of blood vessels, nerves and connecting tissue without relying on an invasive procedure. A check of your eyes can be a test for the presence of more than 20 conditions, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

For example, unusual bends, kinks or bleeding from blood vessels in the back of the eye can signal high blood pressure, which affects 1 in 3 American adults. Signs of diabetes, multiple sclerosis and certain cancers can also be spotted during a vision exam.

Dental: Oral health also plays a significant role in overall well-being, especially for people with chronic conditions. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with a severe form of gum disease called periodontitis may be linked to cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes.

Gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people who have diabetes. Research shows people with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels, and that regular periodontal care can help improve diabetes management.

Vision and dental coverage may help support broader efforts to achieve a healthy, productive workforce. Thanks to preventive care and early interventions for symptoms of chronic conditions, specialty benefits may also help reduce the overall cost of health care — for your organization and individual employees.

In fact, employers that integrate specialty benefits with medical coverage through UnitedHealthcare may save up to 4%* on medical premiums. Meanwhile employees may experience improved health outcomes due to improved identification and management of chronic conditions, increased engagement in clinical care programs and a simpler member experience.1

This integrated approach is part of a multi-year effort to make vision and dental care more convenient, affordable and effective in closing gaps in care has earned UnitedHealthcare national recognition. J.D. Power recently ranked UnitedHealthcare Dental and Vision highest in customer satisfaction among the nation's vision and dental plans, according to their 2021 Vision and Dental Plan Satisfaction Reports.

To learn more about UnitedHealthcare specialty benefits, visit uhc.com.

*Potential savings include impact from an integrated approach and uBundle, which applies only to first-year medical premiums for employers with 51-100 employees; savings through uBundle continue as long as the program is in effect for employers with 101 to 2,999 employees, as long as the qualifying benefits remain in force. uBundle is not available in all states.

Review of the impact of the UnitedHealthcare integrated approach on Key and National Account customers, 2018.