Benefits and insurance: Ohio through Wyoming

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 hygienists.

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

Ohio

Who responded: 87 total, including 60 full-time hygienists (69%)
Health insurance: 53% are covered through a family member’s plan; 33% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 14% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 40% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 26% are uninsured; 25% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 9% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 72% are uninsured; 14% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 14% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 44% are uninsured; 36% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 20% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 68% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 8% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I would love health insurance and some type of a retirement plan. The boss appears resentful of any benefits given and is threatening to take away the health insurance plan to those who do have it.
  • I know a lot of hygienists who have never been given any benefits, as well as a lot of assistants and front office who fall into the same category.
  • I think dental related professions need to offer health benefits to their employees, because everyone needs health insurance. We have lost good employees because in our area most dental or dental related offices don't offer any health care benefits.
  • Our medical insurance that the employees have to pay for (office only pays the first $600) went up 246% this year. Without a raise in the last 10 years, this has been a real hardship. I am thinking I may have to opt out of the medical insurance next year.
  • There are virtually no benefits. I regret becoming a hygienist for this reason although I love the work and people.

Oklahoma

Who responded: 23 total including 14 full-time hygienists (61%)
Health insurance: 46% are covered through a family member’s plan; 46% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 8% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 61% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 16% are uninsured; 15% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 8% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 54% are uninsured; 46% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 0% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 39% are uninsured; 39% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 22% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 64% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 7% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • This is a huge drawback to the dental hygienist ... without a husband who contributes health care, I would not be able to work at my profession.
  • I worked for 19 of my 24 years without any benefits — no holiday pay, vacations, insurance, etc. I love hygiene, but with what I know now, I can't recommend a hygiene career to young women. Go into nursing. Always a job waiting and benefits. A private dental office does not make for a good retirement package.

Oregon

Who responded: 35 total, including 12 full-time hygienists (34%)
Health insurance: 82% are covered by an employer’s plan; 9% are covered through a family member’s plan; and 9% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 55% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 27% are covered by plan provided by employer; 9% are uninsured; and 9% are covered by a family member’s plan.
Disability insurance: 50% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 33% are uninsured; and 17% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 58% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 25% are covered by employer’s plan; and 17% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 50% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 17% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I think some employers understand and value employee loyalty, and some do not. Some think worker morale is not affected by how employees are treated. I don't think it needs to be extravagant, but feeling like your employer cares that you keep working for him is important. Feeling that your efforts make the business more profitable and that you get to share in that success is another thing that makes you want to keep working hard.
  • I feel as though I work in one of the few offices that provide full benefits.

Pennsylvania

Who responded: 113 total, including 70 full-time hygienists (62%)
Health insurance: 56% are covered through a family member’s plan; 39% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 5% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 40% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 31% are covered by a family member’s plan; 20% are uninsured; and 9% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 64% are uninsured; 24% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 12% 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: 63% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 9% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I feel my current employer is very generous.
  • Unfortunately, after 26 years in the same practice, I have had benefits reduced considerably in the past six years. There are very few RDH jobs available in my area of Pennsylvania and full time positions are extremely rare — most likely to avoid paying medical benefits
  • I feel my situation is rare for this area in that he pays for my health insurance.
  • I have practiced 36 years. Early in my career, the dentists I worked for provided full insurance, sick time (which I never used), vacation, holidays, paid time if they went away. Today, the dentists in my area have multiple part-time hygienists, so as not to pay benefits. I have steered young women looking at a career in dental hygiene toward a nursing degree. I think the opportunities are greater, at least in northwestern Pennsylvania.
  • I've worked in the dental field since 1986 for 27 dentists and out of those 27, three offered some sort of benefit package. Only one had health insurance and it was so expensive I would have been working just to pay my portion.
  • Benefits for dental hygienists have dramatically decreased over the years since I was first licensed. Full-time positions are hard to come by. It is widely practiced not to provide any sick pay leaving hygienists to treat patients when they are suffering from cold and flu symptoms, upset stomachs, diarrhea etc because they will otherwise lose income. Paid health insurance was generally offered when I first starting practicing and now is rarely provided except at great cost to the hygienist. Also, hygienists are routinely asked to clock out when a patient fails an appointment. This was rarely done in years past when I first began practicing. Generally, I am very disappointed in the decline of the field.
  • Dental hygiene is a great profession to work in. It's a shame so many dentists take advantage of their hard working employees and give them the bare minimum if anything in benefits. Also, dentists rarely implement a raise to help with the expenses the hygienist must pay in individual benefits. Very discouraging.
  • I think as a whole you are trapped as a hygienist. No room for movement or advancement. Most hygienists I know keep the same pay with very little fluctuation throughout their careers. I think that there should be more benefits as your length of employment increases. State by state, Pennsylvania is one of the worst.

Rhode Island

Who responded: 18 total, including 13 full-time hygienists (72%)
Health insurance: 54% are covered through a family member’s plan; 46% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 0% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 54% are covered by a family member’s plan; 23% are covered by plan provided by employer; 15% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; and 8% are uninsured.
Disability insurance: 69% are uninsured; 23% are covered by an employer’s plan; 8% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Malpractice insurance: 46% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 46% are uninsured; and 8% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 54% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 8% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • Due to the economy in Rhode Island, most dentists have switched to hiring part-time people so they don't have to provide any benefits. I appreciate the fact my boss still has me working in her office full time with some benefits. Over the years, the hours and benefits have decreased slightly but I'm grateful to still be employed.
  • There are very few benefits in dentistry. An RDH was a part-time mommy job for so long, and the dentists still have not caught up to the times. Getting more from my employers is like pulling teeth. In the last four years I have had benefits reduced.

South Carolina

Who responded: 13 total, including eight full-time hygienists (62%)
Comments:

  • In my general area, benefits have definitely improved over the years, although I would particularly love to be offered some disability coverage.
  • Hygienists aren't treated as professionals anymore. I'm nickeled and dimed to death, and I have the threat of "there are 100 girls who would want this job" hanging over my head. The dentists know there is an overabundance of RDHs and our salaries and benefits are taking the hit.

South Dakota

Who responded: Our apologies, but only one part-time hygienist participated in the survey.

Tennessee

Who responded: 21 total, including 14 full-time hygienists (67%)
Health insurance: 55% are covered through a family member’s plan; 27% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 18% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 38% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 31% are covered by a family member’s plan; 23% are uninsured; and 8% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 72% are uninsured; 14% are covered by an employer’s plan; 14% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Malpractice insurance: 57% are covered by employer’s plan; 29% are uninsured; and 14% are covered by self-initiated coverage.
Retirement plan: 57% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 8% are covered through an employer’s plan.

Texas

Who responded: 83 total, including 61 full-time hygienists (74%)
Health insurance: 55% are covered through a family member’s plan; 34% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 11% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 46% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 24% are uninsured; 18% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 12% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 60% are uninsured; 23% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 18% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 59% are uninsured; 27% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 14% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 63% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 25% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • We have provided wonderful care for our patients, but we have not received compensation such as retirement benefits. There is so much talk about retired athletes not having benefits; what about retired dental hygienists?
  • I feel like most offices do not offer hygienists many benefits due to the level of our pay. But I feel that the dental profession is lacking in offered benefits for all employees.
  • They are lacking. Doctors act as though they cannot afford to pay staff benefits yet the doctor takes home the big dollars. Yes, I realize he/she went to dental school but without the reliable staff then he/she has nothing. Pay your employees well enough that the employees will not even consider leaving. Take care of the employees, and they will take care of you. And I don't mean just RDHs; I mean entire staff.
  • As much as I love dental hygiene, I would have been better off if I had spent my life in a career that offered benefits and retirement.
  • The lack of health insurance benefits creates a real financial strain. Slight salary increases do not make up for the growing cost of insurance premiums. Dentistry is still old fashioned in the attitude that since the majority of employees are female, they should have a spouse that can provide them with a health insurance policy.
  • We used to have a 401K, but it got discontinued. Also, I could get health insurance through my employer but its cost would be about 1/4 of my salary even with the employer paying $200 of it. So I have chosen to get a health insurance plan that is essentially catastrophic care coverage.
  • A life change left me without health insurance, so I started looking at my alternatives and that led me away from private practice with no health insurance to a county health agency where I receive benefits.
  • I have been a hygienist for 10 years. Only my current office has ever offered health and disability benefits, as well as 401K. I do not think this is very good. It sometimes causes me to question my decision to become a hygienist.

Utah

Who responded: Eight total, including three full-time hygienists (38%)

Vermont

Who responded: Three total, including one full-time hygienist (33%)

Virginia

Who responded: 54 total, including 40 full-time hygienists (74%)
Health insurance: 47% are covered by an employer’s plan; 38% are covered through a family member’s plan; and 15% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 65% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 22% are uninsured; 11% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 2% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 68% are uninsured; 22% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 10% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 55% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 29% are covered by employer’s plan; and 18% are uninsured.
Retirement plan: 53% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 15% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • Poor leadership and greed make up the reason behind the lack of benefits! Shame on these dentists who only pay only the hours a RDH works and nothing else!
  • It is a career I would no longer be interested in since it is not a career in most dental settings. It is best as a part-time job where you aren't expecting salary increases or vacation days/holiday pay. It is best if you have a partner that provides the insurance benefits and the second income. The pay is very good if you work five-day weeks but don't expect any great benefits other than the pay. Lack of insurance, paid time off, retirement benefits would force me to search for a better place of employment if it weren't for the fact that I am leaving dental hygiene in one year to retire.
  • Dentistry is not a profession for those who do not have another member of the family providing benefits.
  • It is sad to see the new face of employment for dental hygienist. It had gotten to the point where the dentist do not want to pay for quality care or give decent benefits as well.
  • I have seen very limited benefits available from previous employers or from friends' employers. I am currently employed by a very large, multiple-location practice, and I think the higher rate of production helps provide my current benefits. Smaller practices struggle to afford health and life insurance; my current employer had to reduce health-care benefits last year. I am blessed to have insurance through my spouse.

Washington

Who responded: 61 total, including 28 full-time hygienists (46%)
Health insurance: 48% are covered through a family member’s plan; 43% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 9% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 50% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 23% are uninsured; 15% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 12% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 57% are uninsured; 36% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 7% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 43% are covered by self-initiated coverage; 39% are uninsured; and 18% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 57% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 4% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • Dentistry is one of the few employment places that few or no benefits are offered and I do not understand why that is.
  • Since we don't have dental insurance, if we need to see a specialist, it's totally out of pocket. Although we have health insurance, our deductible is $3,000, which most of us never reach, so it's pretty much out of pocket too. Our benefits are decreasing every year.
  • I use to have more and better benefits. Each year a benefit is either reduced or taken away. I have worked in this multiple dentist office for 16 years.

West Virginia

Who responded: Four total, including three full-time hygienists (75%)

Wisconsin

Who responded: 49 full-time hygienists out of 86 total (57%)
Health insurance: 60% are covered through a family member’s plan; 25% are covered by an employer’s plan; and 15% are uninsured.
Dental insurance: 68% receive treatment at reduced cost at employer’s practice; 12% are uninsured; 18% are covered by a family member’s plan; and 2% are covered by plan provided by employer.
Disability insurance: 53% are uninsured; 34% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 13% are covered by an employer’s plan.
Malpractice insurance: 48% are uninsured; 29% are covered by self-initiated coverage; and 23% are covered by employer’s plan.
Retirement plan: 76% have a retirement plan where employer makes a contribution to it.
Life insurance: 14% are covered through an employer’s plan.
Comments:

  • I am so disappointed that benefits such as health/disability insurance and vacation in a private practice setting are far and few between. How do they expect us to take six weeks maternity leave without hardly any pay? I think it's atrocious for an employer to get away with something like this.
  • It's bad. If you work in small practice, most of us have no benefits.
  • Health insurance is rare for hygienists in small practices, but my employer compensates by paying for all our dental work including any lab fees.
  • I am very fortunate to work for a dentist who gives us so many benefits. Other than sick pay, we have it made. I have worked for other offices where you get nothing.
  • Job benefits in our state have always been slim to none. Most doctors in my state prefer to have multiple part-time RDH employees for the distinct purpose of avoiding having to pay full-time benefits. I have worked in dental hygiene since 1979 and have never had a full=time clinical dental hygiene job in one office that provided traditional full-time benefits. And now there are so many new graduates that no one will ever have to hire full time.

Wyoming

Who responded: Seven total, including five full-time hygienists (71%)

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