A new nationwide poll shows that despite growing concerns with the nation's healthcare system, demand for employer-sponsored dental benefits remains high, and most Americans don't generally associate challenges facing today's national healthcare system with dental benefits.
The survey, conducted by Taylor Nelson/Sofres Intersearch as part of a broader market research study for Delta Dental Plans in California, Pennsylvania and affiliated operations in 16 states plus the District of Columbia, addresses several aspects of American attitudes regarding dental benefits. For instance, it suggests that most Americans expect dental to be offered when job seeking, and they do not view the rising cost of medical insurance to employers as a plausible reason for cutbacks in their employer-sponsored dental programs.
"Healthcare inflation is challenging benefit consultants and their clients to rethink their overall approach to benefits, and in some cases to shift costs to their employees or even eliminate ancillary benefits like dental or vision," said Gary D. Radine, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Delta Dental Plan of California. "The survey, however, indicates that dental benefits are not viewed as dispensable by job seekers, and that reducing or eliminating dental is not likely to be appreciated or understood by the workforce."
Radine said the survey also shows widespread agreement with the idea that dental is different with respect to some of the larger challenges faced by the nation's healthcare system.
Against a random sample with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent, the survey uncovered the following prevailing attitudes regarding dental benefits across the nation:
-- 48.3 percent of respondents from a base of 1,025 felt it is "very important," and 30.3 percent felt it is "somewhat important," to have dental insurance provided by a prospective employer.
-- 41.2 percent of respondents consider dental insurance to be only a minor part of the national healthcare problem, while 22.8 percent don't consider dental insurance to be a part of the problem at all. The "problem" was loosely defined in the survey as double-digit annual increases in insurance premiums, leading to reduced access to health insurance for a growing number of people. (n=1025)
On a separate question, 635 employed adults responded to how they would react if their employer reduced their dental coverage or increased the employees' contribution. Of respondents with employer-provided dental coverage:
-- 40.6 percent felt this would be a significant loss.
-- Only 18.9 percent felt that their employer would have to be forced into such a move in order to reduce expenses, while 37.6 percent either "strongly agreed" or "somewhat agreed" that such a move was probably done: "...to improve the bottom line."