New MetLife Retiree Dental Coverage Plan Delivers Valued Oral Health Care for Retirees, Goodwill for Employers
Yet, for America's retirees, dental coverage is typically the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, when people leave their jobs through retirement, they leave their dental coverage behind as well. But that doesn't have to be the case--adding retiree dental coverage through a voluntary plan can be a highly attractive option for both employers and retirees, and highly viable as well with the full service approach MetLife provides.
MetLife recently began offering a new dental plan to help retirees affordably meet their oral healthcare needs. Even more, because of its "turnkey" nature, the MetLife plan can serve as an exciting, innovative program for benefits consultants and advisors looking to add value to their current or potential client relationships.
In short, MetLife's new Full Service Dental for Retirees bundles appropriate dental benefit plans along with MetLife full service on marketing, enrollment, customer service, record-keeping and billing services. And since the plan is voluntary, it doesn't cost employers, as retirees pay 100% of the premium.
"Dental coverage is considered a valued benefit by employees of all ages, but today's retirees--who are living longer than previous generations--struggle with maintaining the healthier aspect of their lifestyle as access to affordable oral health care is limited," says Michael Schwartz, MetLife vice president, Dental Product Management. "By offering dental benefits into retirement--especially with a plan that provides the freedom to use any dentist--employers can help retirees maintain trusted relationships with their dentists as well as help reduce the financial obstacles that can prevent retirees from obtaining appropriate oral health care."
And it's not just about access to oral healthcare, adds Dr. Alan Vogel, DMD, national dental director, MetLife. Research supporting the connection between oral health and medical health makes dental benefits even more valuable for both the retiree and the former employer, who may be paying for healthcare coverage.
"It's becoming clear that if people have dental problems, it can affect their overall health as well," says Vogel. "So benefit consultants and advisors looking to educate their clients about the value of dental care can provide information regarding disease management for active employees and retirees when they offer consultative advice."
For the MetLife plan, retirees can enroll--via paper, phone or Internet--in one of two dental options based on their personal needs and budgets. Both options provide for preventive services as well as basic dental services. The enhanced option provides additional benefits for major restorative services. There are different deductibles and annual maximums between the options, and retirees can also choose coverage for their spouses, domestic partners, and dependent children.
Both benefit options under MetLife's Full Service Dental for Retirees provide participants the freedom to utilize any practicing dentist and receive benefits for covered services. Plan participants also have access to MetLife's Preferred Dentist Program (PDP)--a nationwide network of over 100,000 dentist locations consisting of carefully selected general and specialty dentists. Dentists participating in MetLife's PDP agree to accept MetLife's negotiated fees (typically 10% to 35% less than average fees in their local community) as payment in full for all services covered by the plan. Participating dentists even agree to extend these negotiated fees for services not covered under the plan, such as cosmetic services, providing added value beyond the dental plan.
According to Schwartz, MetLife is seeing a trend towards more contributory and employee-paid plans for active employee benefits, with cost-sharing becoming more popular in plan design. With that in mind, MetLife developed a viable retiree product--Full Service Dental for Retirees--providing a way to help ease the increased financial burden being put on retirees with access to group rates for dental benefits coverage.
In addition, with talent retention becoming a growing concern, offering retiree dental benefits on a voluntary basis can be a way for employers to further differentiate themselves when it comes to competitive benefit offerings.
"Competition for talent continues as employees near retirement," Schwartz says. "Retiree benefits coverage helps create a value proposition for the employer. If you look at retirees and the financial burdens they face on a fixed amount of income, it clearly points to the appeal of getting access to affordable dental coverage."
"MetLife has designed its dental plans to provide access to quality dental care at an affordable price for retirees," Schwartz adds. "We're excited at the response we've seen from employers thus far. They are thinking about how our plan can fit into their strategy to offer benefits to retirees."
"We've made it very simple," Vogel adds. "And the concept of being a turnkey product that can generate a lot of goodwill with retirees is a winning proposition."
A winning proposition, Schwartz adds, that should not be lost on the brokerage/advisor community.
"The plan gives brokers/advisors a chance to be really consultative, to connect with current clients or prospects," Schwartz explains. "This is a chance for employers to provide a true value-added service for retirees, when there is more and more pressure to cut retiree benefits. We believe it's a tremendous opportunity."
For more on how a growing number of employers are seeing post-retiree benefits as a competitive strategy for attracting and retaining experienced workers, download a copy of the 5th annual MetLife Study of Employee Benefits Trends available at whymetlife.com/brokerstudy.
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August 22, 2007
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