0507 MetLife CBR

By Staff Report

Jul. 12, 2005

A s employers continue to react to climbing costs for health care, businesses across the country are seeking a new way to offer employees dental benefit solutions, without absorbing escalating expenses. Nationally, employers are spending 63 percent more on health care than they spent four years ago, and 88 percent more than eight years ago, according to a Towers Perrin study. The consulting firm’s national survey reports that employers expect health care costs to increase eight percent this year.

While not as significant as medical costs, but a serious concern, dental costs are also increasing for employers. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in the past five years, dental costs have increased between five and seven percent per year and are expected to account for a more significant percentage of benefit dollars in the future.

At the same time, a growing number of clinical studies now indicate a connection between oral health and medical wellbeing. For example, researchers have shown that individuals with moderate/severe periodontal disease are more likely to develop heart disease than are people with perfectly healthy gums. As well, recent studies indicate that disease conditions in the mouth can signal trouble in other parts of the body.

All of which leaves today’s small businesses in a precarious position. Despite a burgeoning awareness of the importance of oral health, many of today’s young and smaller-sized companies are weighing how to provide dental coverage and still expect to compete effectively in the global economic environment.

The Importance of Voluntary Dental Benefits

Fortunately, voluntary benefits can help any business, including small businesses to control their costs for dental care while providing employees with high quality benefits packages. MetLife offers a Voluntary Dental program for small businesses that is designed to have employees pay all or a substantial portion of the premium. These premiums can be collected automatically through convenient payroll deduction.

With a voluntary benefits approach, small businesses can provide their workers with greater choice and access to many of the same benefits currently offered by the country’s large enterprises. This leveling of the playing field is key to small businesses’ ability to attract and retain qualified candidates in a competitive labor market. In today’s competitive environment for talent, voluntary benefits can help boost employee morale and communicate that a company cares about its employees. MetLife’s new Voluntary Dental plans for small businesses are backed by 40 years of dental benefits experience, valuable educational tools and outstanding service.

Access to State-of-the Art Technology

Offering employees benefits can place an enormous administrative burden on a small business. Many growing companies lack the resources required to offer benefit programs to employees. Complementing MetLife’s Voluntary Dental program is a package of online benefit tools that can help small businesses streamline the benefits delivery process and reduce administrative costs.

Helping to ease the burden on a small business’s benefits managers and human resources personnel is MetLink. This online solution allows administrators to enroll employees, check claims and create and submit invoices for dental coverage from the convenience of a desktop PC. Eligibility changes can be made online, granting administrators greater control. Benefits managers can easily set up employees for convenient payroll deductions to pay for their voluntary benefits. And new hires can be added to the system immediately – a key advantage for employees and employers alike.

Without Web-based tools, many small businesses are unable to update employee eligibility information on a timely basis. With MetLink, employers can change eligibility information in real-time so that claims submitted for new hires are processed immediately. In turn, by leveraging MetLink, small businesses can avoid increasing headcount while effectively managing voluntary dental benefit plans.

MetLife’s MyBenefits Web site provides employees with access to the information and tools they need to help service their own benefits requirements. With the click of a mouse, an employee can track the processing of dental claims or receive details on plan benefits. This online access to benefits information and educational tools not only educates employees but also helps alleviate a small employer’s administrative burden and may reduce costs for the delivery of information.

In addition, MetLife has also created an online portal for dentists. By accessing, today’s dental providers can achieve an enhanced understanding of a patient’s benefits plan, including the services covered by the plan and patient eligibility. With real-time access to this information, dentists can discuss treatment plans and payment arrangements while the patient is in their office — enhancing the patient’s dental office experience. Furthermore, serves as an important source of news and information on the dental insurance industry.

The Value of Knowledge

MetLife boasts an expansive knowledge of the marketplace, with input from businesses, brokers, consultants, employees and the dental providers, and MetLife also relies on its Dental Advisory Committee for input regarding innovative dental research and plan designs. By offering MetLife’s Voluntary Dental, small businesses are granted the same access to this powerful research as are today’s large enterprises. As a result, voluntary dental benefits are giving today’s small businesses an important leg-up on the competition and a cost-effective means to retain and attract top talent.

For more information about MetLife’s dental benefits, visit

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