Friday, December 21, 2007

Guardian One of the First Major Dental Insurers to Cover Cosmetic Teeth Whitening

I hope this is an insurance company "covering" a procedure but not just reducing the fee to a PPO level but providing no money.MJ

NEW YORK, Dec. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- If you are tired of the rituals involved in using over-the-counter teeth whitening products, and would prefer to receive professional dental treatments to achieve or maintain your movie star smile, then you'll be happy with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America's (Guardian) new dental plan enhancements. Guardian, a leading provider of employee and voluntary benefits for small and midsized companies and the second largest dental network in the nation(1), today announced that it now covers cosmetic teeth whitening and has expanded its coverage of periodontal maintenance cleanings.

Dental insurance companies usually do not cover cosmetic procedures, but demand from clients and brokers supported Guardian's decision to offer teeth whitening as a covered benefit. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), teeth whitening is the number one requested cosmetic service today, and they expect its popularity to soar.

"Guardian is committed to helping small and midsize employers attract and retain the best talent," said Jim Pogue, vice president, Group Dental, Guardian. "Research shows that dental insurance is a popular benefit and can bolster a company's overall benefits package. Guardian's focus is on wellness and preventive procedures. But we believe that there is value in offering cosmetic teeth whitening because it will encourage employees to visit their dentists and seek not only the treatments that will improve the look of their smile, but also their oral health and overall health."

In addition to the new teeth whitening feature, citing the connection between oral health and overall health, Guardian has also expanded the number of periodontal cleanings in its dental plan. An estimated 80 percent of American adults have some form of periodontal disease, according to a 2006 National Institutes of Health report. This prevalent disease can lead to high blood sugar, heart disease and premature births.

Guardian's new plan gives employers the option of offering their employees up to four periodontal maintenance cleanings per year, regardless of medical conditions. Traditionally, a physician's certification that the employee has a disease with a known correlation to periodontal disease is required to qualify for more than 2-3 cleanings in a year.

"Americans realize that there is a link between oral health and overall health," said Dr. Richard Goren, 2nd vice president, Group Dental, Guardian. "In fact, 89 percent of respondents in a 2006 survey conducted by Guardian, 'Benefits & Behavior Spotlight on Dental', indicated that consumers recognize a connection. With the relationship between oral and overall health in mind, we have expanded our periodontal coverage so that plan holders can offer their employees as many as four routine or periodontal cleanings per year."

The cosmetic teeth whitening and enhanced gum cleanings complement existing Guardian Group Dental programs including discounts on Xylitol products, coverage for dental implants, adult fluoride treatments and ViziLite(R) Plus oral cancer screenings and a dental account rollover program that allows members to save up their annual maximums for costly procedures as part of its standard coverage. Many of these types of programs are not widely available in competing dental plans.

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