September 15, 2011 08:25 ET

NADP Survey Reports on Employer-Sponsored Dental Coverage

Will Small Employers Keep Dental Coverage Outside the New Health Exchanges?

DALLAS, TX--(Marketwire - Sep 15, 2011) - An increased number of employers are offering separate dental plans than ever before, according to the National Association of Dental (NADP) Plans 2011 Group Purchaser Behavior Study released today. The study also reveals more than 80 percent of all companies surveyed are likely to invest in -- or continue -- offering health benefits rather than pay a $2,000 penalty to the federal government when the Affordable Care Act is implemented in 2014.

How Employers Currently Perceive Dental Benefits

There have been significant increases in companies offering dental benefits to employees compared to NADP's previous surveys in 2005 and 2008. Increases in the percentage of employers offering dental benefits are noted in every geographic region and in all size categories -- most notably with companies with 25 to 100 employees.

Of those companies with dental benefits, there was an increase in dental PPO products and declines in dental HMO, traditional Indemnity plans and Discount Dental plans. Since 2008 employers are also asking employees to contribute more to their own dental coverage.

Additional key findings include:

  • Dental coverage is purchased as a separate policy most often from a stand-alone carrier (59 percent) with a decline in dental policies purchased "in a package" from a medical carrier and its dental affiliate, subsidiary or partner.
  • In selecting a new dental carrier for dental coverage, cost is the most important factor.
  • The most important reasons for companies to consider offering dental benefits are:
    • Employee requests;
    • Dental health impacts overall health; and,
    • Affordability.
  • Most employers (96%) believe dental benefits are an 'essential' or a 'differentiating' factor in the recruitment and retention of employees, consistent with data from 2008.

How Employers Perceive Dental Benefits under Health Care Reform

The ACA includes 'pediatric oral services' as part of the Essential Health Benefits Package to be offered in small group and individual market. However, according to the Study separate dental and vision benefits will continue to be purchased outside of the Exchange by 69 percent of all companies. While many employers are uncertain, in employer groups of 100 or less (those initially eligible to use Exchanges), 21 percent are not likely to continue dental coverage outside of Exchanges. Additionally, an estimated 40 percent of companies with 100 employees or less indicate they are likely to purchase health benefits through the Exchange.

"To deliver on the promise made by President Obama and congressional leaders that Americans can keep their coverage and doctors, consumers with dental benefits need the option they have today to purchase medical which does not duplicate the dental coverage they already have," remarked NADP Executive Director Evelyn F. Ireland. "Regulators must clarify that dental policies consumers have now will be accepted by Exchanges to meet ACA requirements for children. They should also clarify that health plans can offer medical coverage without dental both inside and outside the Exchanges. Without these clarifications, dental coverage will be disrupted for 1.65 million small businesses providing dental policies to 43.7 million employees including 22.9 million children."

NADP's recently published white paper, "Offering Dental Policies in Health Insurance Exchanges: A Roadmap for Federal and State Policymakers" provides regulators with common-sense recommendations for offering dental policies in Exchanges.

The National Association of Dental (NADP) Plans 2011 Group Purchaser Behavior Study is available for purchase on the NADP website at

About NADP
The National Association of Dental Plans ( is a non-profit trade association representing the entire dental benefits industry, including dental HMOs, dental PPOs, discount dental plans and dental indemnity products. NADP's member dental plans provide dental benefits to about 90 percent of the 166 million Americans with dental benefits. NADP's members include major commercial carriers, regional and single-state companies.

Contact Information

    Evelyn Ireland
    Executive Director
    (972) 458-6998, x101
    Email Contact