Survey: Dental hygienists scramble for health insurance

Half of dental hygienists receive health insurance through a plan provided to a family member, according to a job benefits survey conducted by RDH eVillage.

Half of dental hygienists receive health insurance through a plan provided to a family member, according to a job benefits survey conducted by RDH eVillage. The other half seeks out financial protection from medical bills through plans offered through a dental employer (22%) or a self-insured policy (19%). Nine percent of dental hygienists indicated they are uninsured.

“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,” a California hygienist said in her response to the January 2013 survey.

The survey results presented are based on 1,789 responses. The survey is ongoing, and dental hygienists can participate by clicking here.

Consider reading:How does health-care reform affect you?
Consider reading:A heads-up for dentists: Smart financial moves for late 2012 and early 2013
Consider reading:2012 RDH eVillage Salary Survey, Part 3: Have hourly rates taken a hit in your state?

Links to Other 2013 Salary Survey Articles

Dental Hygiene Salary Survey, part 1: Reduced hours? Maybe not

Regardless of generation, dental hygienists agree about job market

Hygienists strongly believe there are too many hygiene schools, too few jobs

Some final thoughts about the fairness of pay raises awarded to dental hygienists

Job benefits survey, part 4: The 'duh' factor

Pay raises in dental hygiene: A national overview

2013 Dental Hygienist Job Benefits Survey - Part 3

Job benefits for dental hygienists: Part 2

Survey: Dental hygienists scramble for health insurance

A generational breakdown of the trends of health insurance among dental hygienists includes:

Hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school in the 1960s or before: Even the youngest in this group are fast approaching the half-century mark of service. Most of them qualify for, and use, Medicare supplements (51%) or are covered through a plan provided by a dental employer (25%).

Hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school in the 1970: This age group exceeded the national averages in the number who are self-insured (24%), and slightly below average in the numbers who are insured through their dental office (21%) or a family member’s policy (47%).

Hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school in the 1980s: Most hygienists in this age group (54%) receive health insurance via a family member.

One hygienist who graduated in the 1980s said, “Job benefits seem to be decreased in value and/or deleted without any other compensation. We are working harder and longer without compensation for increased time.”

Hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school in the 1990: This group was above the national average in health insurance through a dental employer (25%) or family member’s policy (53%).

* Hygienists who graduated from dental hygiene school after 2000: The greatest percentage of uninsured dental hygienists (14%) is in this age group.

The statistics for health insurance were also considered for hygienists who earned a bachelor’s degree instead of an associate’s degree.

The largest determinant on whether a dental hygienist receives health insurance is her job status of part-time vs. full-time employee. Forty-one percent of hygienists who work out of one office for four or more days a week derive health insurance benefits from their employer. In comparison, 7% of hygienists who work three or fewer days in one office utilize health insurance benefits through the employer.

“I would love a job that provided health benefits,” one hygienist said. “I am barely getting my 24 hours a week now. Luckily, I am covered through my husband, so I'm mostly worried about getting my hours now.”

A veteran hygienist added, “In almost 40 years in dentistry, I have only had benefits about half of the time, yet have always worked full time, five days a week.”

Survey participants offered other comments about health insurance benefits below. One comment advocated taking advantage of insurance coordinated through the American Dental Hygienists’ Association. According to the survey, ADHA membership may have another influence — 35% of ADHA members are covered through a plan provided by employers.

  • “I would find it very beneficial if all dental personnel were able to purchase health insurance as if we belonged to the same group. We would have better cost and better coverage. I looked into buying on my own and the cost is high with poor 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 worked in the same office for 22 years and have been well paid with good benefits. I have seen many young hygienists who receive no benefits because they work in several different offices. I am thankful for health insurance through the ADHA. It is much more affordable than other private insurance I investigated.”
  • “It is a shame that more doctors do not have to pay for health insurance, at least most of it, and cover some costs of continuing education. 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 of everything going up, they need to change the way things are done now.”
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