Benefits and insurance: Alabama through Louisiana

This second article of the job benefits survey compares the “protective” benefits (health, dental, disability, malpractice, and life insurance) as well as retirement plans for dental hygienists on a state-by-state basis.

Statistics below are based on the information provided by full-time dental hygienists.

Alabama through Louisiana | Maine through North Dakota | Ohio through Wyoming | Return to main article

Alabama

Who responded: 17 total, including 13 full-time hygienists (77%)
Health insurance: 50% are covered through a family member’s plan; 40% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 10% is uninsured.
Dental insurance: 50% are uninsured; 33% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 17% are covered by a family member’s plan.
Disability insurance: 54% are uninsured; 31% are covered by an employer’s plan; 15% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Malpractice insurance: 58% are covered by employer’s plan, and 42% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 69% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 8% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comment: Most dentists do not provide benefits any longer. If they do, they state they pay less because of insurance benefits. Most will not pay more if you don’t take the insurance.

Alaska

Who responded: 10 total, including four full-time hygienists (40%)
Comment: “I wish I knew of a dentist that didn't think of employee benefits as unfair freebies that takes food off his family’s table.”

Arizona

Who responded: 42 total, including 29 full-time hygienists (69%)
Health insurance: 45% are covered through a family member’s plan; 36% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 18% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 45% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 24% are uninsured; 21% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 10% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 64% are uninsured; 32% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 4% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 46% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 42% are uninsured; and 12% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 29% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 17% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • It's a travesty. We work in health care without health-care benefits! I'm in a town of about 70,000, I would say maybe 90% of dental offices here do not offer health insurance for their hygienists.
  • Benefits are less and less as the years go by. Gone are the days when you received sick days, personal days and vacation time that actually gave you enough time off to enjoy a vacation with pay. Now you have to be grateful you have a job and don't get sent home too often if the schedule is light. After 16 years of practicing dental hygiene, I am ashamed to admit I am happy I am on my way out and not just entering into the profession. It is not the respectable profession it once was. We have been reduced to nothing more than cleaning ladies.
  • These dentists are small employers. I don't expect much from them in that regard. Some times the worse a dentist is to work for the more they offer, so I am happy to work for someone excellent, with great pay and great values minus the benefits.

Arkansas

Who responded: 10 total, including six full-time hygienists (60%)
Comment: Seems to vary from dentist to dentist; those wanting to keep employees for years are willing to pay. Others want cheapest employees they can get.

California

Who responded: 180 total, including 99 full-time hygienists (55%)
Health insurance: 54% are covered through a family member’s plan; 35% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 11% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 54% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 21% are covered by a family member’s plan; 19% are uninsured; and 5% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 57% are uninsured; 28% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 15% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 61% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 28% are uninsured; and 10% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 43% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 6% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • It seems that working in a " Mom and Pop" dental practice the employers just cannot afford to pay the benefits that employees need to survive. It would have been more prudent for me to go to nursing school instead and work for a hospital that could pay me benefits.
  • The dental industry should be more uniform about providing benefits. I believe the dentist should offer dental insurance and medical insurance — that is not to say they need to pay the entire premium but provide the insurance at a reduced rate.
  • I used to receive more benefits, but, when the economy went down, I lost all benefits other than a $100 monthly contribution to the health insurance I purchased. We also had a front-office person who was very negative and played on the doctor’s economic fears.
  • I find based on my four jobs and years of experience since 1981 that most dentists are choosing to hire younger hygienists. They also pay less for health care premiums that way or choose someone who has a spouse who already has insurance. None of my offices offer health care to any of their employees because my bosses feel it is too expensive to offer. It is very frustrating because I have spent an average of $1,200 a month for my family per year. Along with any issues with a family member, your cost can easily be up to $27,000 to $30,000 a year. It makes you wish you went into nursing or some different profession. I love my profession but not the lack of benefits.
  • I think dentists use the excuse that we are highly paid, so our profession is not included in any benefits. Most dental offices I have worked in/temped in hire only part-time just so they don't have to address these benefits. One office I work in offers the full time front desk person 401K and sick days but flatly refuses to offer them to me because I "make so much more than she does." I don't understand it.

Colorado

Who responded: 64 total, including 34 full-time hygienists (53%)
Health insurance: 50% are covered through a family member’s plan; 37% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 13% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 39% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 24% are covered by a family member’s plan; 21% are uninsured; and 15% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 62% are uninsured; 29% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 9% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 82% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 15% are covered by employer’s plan; and 3% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 56% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 18% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • These are the best benefits that I have received in 32 years as a RDH. I work for a health department. So my salary is less, but the benefits are good.
  • My primary employer does provide health insurance. However, I am covered under my spouse's plan. I feel very fortunate that my employer provides so many benefits, but many other practices in the area do not provide the same high level of benefits.
  • The change in the economy has certainly affected the benefits available especially to dental hygiene. It doesn’t help the morale when you have to fund your own vacation or time off in emergency situations knowing that other staff members get paid time off.

Connecticut

Who responded: 32 total, including19 full-time hygienists (53%)
Health insurance: 56% are covered by an employer’s plan; 44% are covered through a family member’s plan; and 0% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 29% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 29% are covered by a family member’s plan; 24% are uninsured; and 18% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 50% are uninsured; 39% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 11% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 78% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 22% are covered by employer’s plan; and 0% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 84% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 26% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I work in an office with all part-time hygienists. I think this is very common in dentistry and although I like my job very much. If I had to choose a career today, I would never choose hygiene! I feel this is extremely unfair. Our salaries do not reflect the fact that we do not receive benefits of any kind. This has left me extremely dissatisfied.
  • I think our health-care system needs to acknowledge dental the same way it acknowledges any other component of health and well-being. For instance, if the government were to open up dental eligibility to all veterans, instead of only service-connected veterans, there would be a huge advantage to the importance of dental care, and put hygiene back in the ranks equivalent to nursing — the way it was when I started this profession 31 years ago. If the government begins to look at dental care as a more highly regarded field and mandates as approved care and as necessary for all veterans, it would be a huge step towards changing our downward spiral as health-care professionals.

Delaware

Who responded: Five total, including four full-time hygienists (80%)
Comment: Most dentists in Delaware do not offer medical benefits. They offer dental benefits to employees and some type of 401k plan.

Florida

Who responded: 80 total, including 54 full-time hygienists (68%)
Health insurance: 54% are covered by an employer’s plan; 33% are covered through a family member’s plan; and 13% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 43% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 29% are uninsured; 14% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 14% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 59% are uninsured; 24% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 17% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 42% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 23% are covered by employer’s plan; and 36% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 50% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 24% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • We used to have almost all these benefits in our office, but benefits have dwindled to near zero during the last few years
  • I feel I am fortunate with my present employer in that he does provide for his staff. I worked several years for three different dentists who provided no benefits, and that is the case for several hygienists!
  • Dentists are horrible employers offering few if any benefits to their employees. They do not appreciate their staff and offer no incentives for them to stay. I have done better by quitting and moving to a new position than waiting for a raise or increased benefits. They tend to treat their assistants and front desk better than their RDHs because they think we are "overpaid."

Georgia

Who responded: 52 total, including 33 full-time hygienists (64%)
Health insurance: 73% are covered through a family member’s plan; 19% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 8% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 39% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 18% are uninsured; 36% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 6% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 58% are uninsured; 36% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 6% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 52% are uninsured; 27% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 21% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 56% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 16% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • It seems the majority of offices have done away with most benefits that used to be standard. Unfortunately, they seem to not realize that to get and keep quality employees, you need to offer more than a check. Also, it used to be that if less benefits offered, you would be compensated in your monetary compensation. Not the case anymore. With all the changes in dentistry and hygiene, I am disheartened and seriously considering changing careers. The daily mental and physical stress is no longer worth it. Sad it has come to this for so many of us.
  • I would like to see more employers in small practices look into more options to contribute to benefits like medical and life insurance or Ira/401k plans. Luckily, my spouse has family benefits. It would be difficult for a unmarried employee with or without children to work in this type of practice. Employers should come to realize that quality staff that contribute to a successfully practice should be valued more with some type of benefit package.
  • In Atlanta, the hygiene market is so saturated that employers are not offering the same benefits they once were. I can't change jobs because I would never get the same pay or benefits so I am stuck here until I retire or the job market gets better (I doubt that will ever happen since are so many new hygienists graduating annually who will work for a fraction of the price we used to command).
  • Overall, most dental offices I am familiar with in my location do not provide any medical coverage. Some will provide or pay some toward disability and life insurance. Very few offer a retirement plan.

Hawaii

Who responded: Eight total, including seven full-time hygienists (88%)
Comment: In Hawaii, if you work 20 hours per week they have to offer and pay for a health plan. They don't have to offer you anything else. If you work full time, then you most times can negotiate your pay and benefits such as stated above.

Idaho

Who responded: 16 total including nine full-time hygienists (56%)
Comment: My employer reimburses 75% of my insurance premium on my paycheck.

Illinois

Who responded: 115 total, including 68 full-time hygienists (59%)
Health insurance: 61% are covered through a family member’s plan; 25% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 14% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 43% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 20% are uninsured; 31% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 6% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 68% are uninsured; 26% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 6% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 52% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 25% are covered by employer’s plan; and 23% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 54% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 7% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • It is a shame that more doctors do not have to pay for health insurance, at least most of it. We need the same benefits that most other companies have for their employees. Years ago it was not as bad not having benefits, but with the cost increase of everything going up they need to change the way things are done now.
  • Benefits have decreased quite a bit from when I started practicing in the late 1970s. I had profit sharing, 401k, paid sick days, paid to attend CE courses, health insurance benefits, etc.
  • I know a lot of dentists who do not employ anyone full time so they can avoid paying for benefits. My employer criticized this until recently when she decided she would no longer provide medical insurance to her full timers, and did not compensate for the loss of the insurance. Pretty amazing after so many years for her full-time employees.

Indiana

Who responded: 47 total, including 29 full-time hygienists (62%)
Health insurance: 68% are covered through a family member’s plan; 23% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 9% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 46% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 25% are covered by a family member’s plan; 18% are uninsured; and 11% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 62% are uninsured; 31% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 7% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 45% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 31% are covered by employer’s plan; and 24% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 62% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 10% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • Since most dentists are a small business owners, until there is a drastic change in our healthcare, we as hygienists will not have health insurance as a standard benefit.
  • Thank God my husband has good benefits!
  • In my area, jobs for dental hygienists are scarce. I'm watching pay and benefits decrease and unemployment or underemployment continually rise.

Iowa

Who responded: 25 total, including 18 full-time hygienists (72%)
Health insurance: 50% are covered through a family member’s plan; 50% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 0% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 53% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 27% are covered by plan provided by employer; 13% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 7% are uninsured.
Disability insurance: 39% are uninsured; 33% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 28% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Malpractice insurance: 61% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 33% are covered by employer’s plan; and 6% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 83% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 44% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • My retirement plan did not start until my employers were to the point in their careers when they were putting a certain % in their retirement. I've been a hygienist for 36 years and my retirement account does not come close to my teacher/ public employee friends.
  • Benefits are decreasing, and as our older employers retire, the younger ones who are "buying in" are reducing benefits and requiring time qualifications.

Kansas

Who responded: 26 total, including 18 full-time hygienists (69%)
Health insurance: 50% are covered through a family member’s plan; 50% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 0% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 47% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 35% are covered by a family member’s plan; 12% are covered by plan provided by employer; and 6% are uninsured.
Disability insurance: 72% are uninsured; 0% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 28% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Malpractice insurance: 47% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 35% are uninsured; and 18% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 61% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 11% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I work for Public Health and am a county employee. I have continued to work because of the benefits that are provided. My salary is not large compared to private practice, but I carry all the insurance for a family of four.
  • With my office only having one dentist, not very many benefits are offered. I have found this with a lot of dental offices in the Midwest.

Kentucky

Who responded: 20 total, including 10 full-time hygienists (50%)

Louisiana

Who responded: 13 full-time hygienists out of 18 total (69%)
Health insurance: 82% are covered through a family member’s plan; 9% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 9% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 46% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 23% are covered by a family member’s plan; 23% are uninsured; and 8% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 61% are uninsured; 31% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 8% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 38% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 31% are uninsured; and 31% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 77% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 0% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • It is very difficult to find health coverage offered by a dentist.

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