How does business health insurance work?

Business health insurance is a valuable employee benefit that gives your team access to private healthcare. When you buy a group health insurance policy, you provide private medical insurance for every employee.

Private medical insurance comprises core coverage that is available to every policyholder. You can also add optional extras such as outpatient cover and dental insurance for a more comprehensive policy. The optional extras you choose impact your total premium cost as more cover increases the likelihood your employees will claim.

How does dental insurance work?

As you've probably guessed, dental insurance is only available as an optional extra on most medical insurance plans, meaning you must pay extra to add it to your policy. You may think that your employees can do without dental insurance. However, your business can also benefit when you offer dental insurance as an employee benefit.

Why dental insurance is important

Including dental insurance in your employee benefits package supports your employees in maintaining good oral health and has several business advantages. Providing dental insurance and other health benefits can help your business stand out from competitors, improve employee retention and make you an employer of choice.

Here are a few main reasons why providing dental insurance is a good idea.

It's getting harder to access NHS dental care

Your employees may be eligible for free dental care if they meet the relevant criteria. However, many NHS dentists aren't accepting new patients, with other dental practices only offering private treatment.

It's increasingly likely that your employees pay for private dental care, so offering dental insurance can save them money. If the cost of living crisis has led them to skip dental care, dental insurance can make it easier to keep up with regular dental check-ups.

It helps your employees maintain their overall health

Good oral health is linked to good general health because people who look after their teeth are more likely to care for themselves in other ways. Regular dental check-ups can also prevent underlying issues from developing. For example, your dentist can check for signs of tooth decay and gum disease, providing advice and treatment to avoid more serious problems developing.

Dental health issues can be an early warning system for more serious conditions

During routine check-ups, a dentist will look for signs of poor oral health but can also check for early symptoms of more serious health issues. Dentists can identify signs of mouth cancer, skin cancer or digestive and general health issues such as Crohn's disease, heart disease or diabetes.

Knowing that their dental insurance covers check-ups and treatment encourages employees to book regular appointments, enabling early treatment of severe illnesses.

It reduces absenteeism

You've likely already made the logical link between good dental and general health. Healthy employees take less time off work due to illness, so offering dental insurance as an employee benefit will likely reduce sickness absence.

Routine dental care can also enable early identification of other major health issues. This may result in some sick leave while an employee seeks treatment. However, early detection increases the prospects of a successful outcome and can reduce their time away from work.

Dental insurance can include other healthcare benefits

Adding dental insurance to your private medical insurance provides many benefits. However, it often comes as part of a treatment package with other types of routine healthcare.

You'll typically see optical cover offered with dental insurance as a single package, allowing you to provide employees with optical and dental insurance. Optical cover includes eye tests, glasses and contact lenses. Therefore, adding optical and dental coverage to your policy allows you to comply with your duty to provide eye tests to employees using display screen equipment.

Some insurance providers also include hearing cover, offering hearing checks and hearing aids if needed.

It can protect your employees working overseas

Most dental coverage includes emergency treatment for severe pain or accidental damage to teeth. In some circumstances, dental insurance also covers emergency care overseas. Employees can, therefore, benefit from emergency treatment while on holiday. If you have team members who routinely travel for work, offering dental insurance allows them to access quick treatment and minimise disruption to their trip.

This type of dental coverage only provides emergency dental treatment overseas, not routine dental care. It's designed to resolve the immediate problem so your employee can seek follow-up treatment at home. If you have employees working abroad long-term, you'll need to look at international medical insurance to provide suitable coverage.

What does dental insurance cover?

Dental insurance plans cover various routine checks and treatments. Here are some of the most common.

Routine check-ups

Routine dental checks are a key part of dental insurance policies as they encourage your employees to book regular appointments. Appointment frequencies can vary. Someone with a healthy mouth and teeth may only need to see their dentist every one or two years. However, they may be more frequent if there's evidence of a potential dental issue. Dentists generally agree on a care plan with their patients or may specify a follow-up date at the end of each appointment. Costs for individual appointments can vary depending on the need for x-rays or to see a hygienist.

For this reason, dental insurance includes a financial limit for each type of treatment rather than setting out how many appointments it covers. This also reflects that costs vary depending on your location and chosen dental practice. Check-ups and dental treatments are typically limited to around £250 to £300 per annum.

Dental treatment

If your employee needs further treatment after their check-up, group dental insurance can also cover the costs, subject to policy limits.

Dental insurance typically includes the most common dental procedures, including:

  • Fillings
  • Crowns
  • Tooth extraction
  • Root canal treatment

Speaking with a specialist broker can help you choose the right level of dental cover for your employees. Research from our partners at MyTribe Insurance shows that the costs of dental treatment vary depending on your location, and tailored advice will enable you to consider your options.

Dental accidents and emergency care

Dental insurance typically provides separate cover in the region of £600 for dental emergencies and accidents. This includes treatment for damaged teeth or severe pain that doesn't respond to non-prescription painkillers. For example, a tooth abscess can cause escalating pain and typically needs antibiotics to reduce the infection initially. Policy coverage for emergency care will fund the initial treatment but not follow-up care such as a tooth extraction or root canal treatment.

Most policies include emergency treatment in the UK and overseas.

Does dental insurance have any exclusions?

Dental insurance exclusions work the same way as other private medical insurance exclusions. Some are standard policy terms, while others depend on your medical history. Here's how it works for dental insurance plans.

Policy exclusions

Dental insurance pays for routine dental care and medically necessary treatments for acute conditions, such as a filling for a dental cavity or a crown on a broken tooth. However, it doesn't cover the costs of cosmetic treatments that only make your teeth look better. Your employees must fund their treatment if they want veneers, tooth straightening or whitening.

Pre-existing conditions

Dental insurance also excludes any dental issues your employees had in the five years before joining the policy. Some insurers avoid applying exclusions to check-ups but do apply them to follow-up treatment. For example, if an employee had an unsuccessful root canal treatment to treat an infection, they may need to have the tooth removed. The extraction wouldn't be covered if the root canal occurred before they joined the policy.

Alternatives to dental insurance

If adding dental insurance to your employee benefits package isn't practical, a cash plan can offer a suitable alternative. You can add a cash plan to your health coverage or offer it as an alternative.

Cash plans work differently from medical insurance because they don't fund private treatment upfront. Instead, they pay cashback for various routine medical check-ups and treatments. Your employee pays for their dental appointment and presents a receipt to claim reimbursement. Standalone cash plans offer different coverage levels with increasing financial limits for each treatment type. By contrast, if you add a cash plan to your medical insurance, you'll typically have a single monetary limit.

Most plans cover routine and emergency care. There are usually no exclusions, although most plans have a qualifying period, so you can't claim straightaway.

Getting professional advice

Working with a specialist insurance broker gives you tailored advice to help you find the right health insurance for your business. Globacare is a regulated broker providing guidance to help you find the best coverage and insurance products for your needs and budget. Contact us for a comparison quote today.

Sam Zainal
Senior Broker

Sam Zainal

Sam has been in the industry for over 11 years and has extensive experience in customer service and protection insurance.

Frequently asked questions

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