The state of NHS dentistry means dental perks are often seen as a major tonic by workers, and with a wide range of products on offer employers are bound to find one to suit, says Kate Donovan
Dental insurance reimburses policyholders for some of the cost of maintaining good oral health. It traditionally covers preventative care such as check-ups and hygienist visits, minor treatments such as fillings and extractions, and major treatments such as crowns and bridges.
At its most basic level, however, dental insurance typically just covers emergency treatments and not preventative; minor or major treatment costs. Product add-ons including cover for more complex work such as implants are also available.
Dental insurance works in a similar way to other insurance products, and enables employees to visit their dentist as normal for treatments or check-ups and claim back for any eligible treatment against the plan that they have. The amount that they are reimbursed will depend on the level of cover and type of plan taken out. Pam Whelan, corporate dental sales manager at Denplan, explains: “The only exclusions that you will tend to find on plans [are on] cosmetic treatments like bleaching.”
Premiums are priced according to the level of cover taken out. Some products work on a claims-related basis, so premiums are calculated according to the usage of a scheme.
Employers can offer dental insurance to staff through a variety of funding methods. One option is to do so on a fully-funded basis whereby employers cover the cost of the perk on employees’ behalf. In this instance, employees will be liable for benefit-in-kind taxation, which must be reported through P11D.
Dental insurance can be included in a flexible benefits scheme, where employers provide staff with a pot of money to spend on perks, or offered as an employee-paid voluntary benefit. If the latter option is chosen, there are no tax implications for employers or staff..
In the corporate market, two main types of dental plan are available: comprehensive plans and co-insurance plans. Comprehensive plans reimburse the full dental charges on an extensive list of treatments. Kirsty Jagielko, group product manager, health benefits at Cigna, explains that there are usually different levels of cover to choose from. A lower level of cover can be selected if employees wish to make a contribution towards the cost of their dental treatment. Comprehensive charges have an annual maximum benefit which varies depending on a scheme’s level of cover.
Co-insurance plans, meanwhile, usually include an excess that must be paid for. “These [schemes] reimburse 100% of preventative treatment costs up to an annual limit and a percentage of treatment costs, typically 75%, for minor and major treatments up to an annual limit,” explains Jagielko.
Members will always be liable for part of the cost of both minor and major treatments. “Co-insurance plans also typically cover oral cancer and in-patient hospital stays for dental-related treatment,” Jagielko adds.
PRODUCT FILE: Dental care
What is dental insurance?
Dental insurance provides a contribution towards the costs of maintaining good oral health, by helping to pay for clinically-necessary treatments.
The main types of dental insurance on the market are comprehensive plans and co-insurance plans.
Employers can choose to offer the benefit through a variety of funding methods including: as a fully employer-paid perk, through a flexible benefits scheme or as a voluntary benefit, which is employee-paid and has no tax implications for either employers or staff.
Where can employers get more information?
• For tax implications on medical insurance for both the employer and employee, visit: www.hmrc.gov.uk/employers/ebik/ebik2/medical-treatment.htm
• For NHS and general dentistry information, visit: www.nhs.uk/england/dentists/
• Cigna Healthcare
• National Dental Plan