Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dental Plans Offer Rollovers

A growing number of group dental plans are letting patients roll over their unused maximum treatment limits to following years, similar to unused cellphone minutes. But often members must visit the dentist annually or more often for preventive care to get the extra allowance.

The trend started recently with Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, companies that primarily serve small and medium-size employers in group dental plans. Large-group employers Cigna Corp. and UnitedHealth Group Inc. started offering the feature earlier this year. Principal Financial Group will implement its rollover plan effective Oct. 1 for plans sold after July 1, Starmount Life Insurance Co., a large provider of worker-paid dental plans, also started offering maximum-limit rollovers in the past year.

Insurers say the new plan designs are meant to encourage participants to visit their dentists regularly for examinations and cleanings to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, which medical studies increasingly link to such serious and costly systemic ailments as diabetes, heart disease and premature birth. Reducing complications from oral disease is expected to reduce overall medical costs for employers and patients. As part of the trend, a growing number of insurers also are covering new oral-cancer screening tests and dental implants, which members can use the higher maximums to help cover.

Read the rest of the article on the Wall Street Journal site

No comments: