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How Dental and Vision Benefits Help Employees and Their Families

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A lack of dental and vision care can affect overall employee well-being. And companies, both large and small, also feel the impact with lowered productivity levels — as well as negative effects on employee retention and attendance.

Just consider this alarming statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): “More than $45 billion in productivity is lost each year as a result of dental emergencies requiring unplanned care.” Meanwhile, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicates that “every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment.”

Those are big numbers. What’s more, prospective employees are becoming acutely aware of the importance of dental and vision care in their lives — so much so that it can influence their job-search decisions. A 2021 survey by the payroll-services company Paychex showed 62% of respondents agreeing “that employee well-being support and benefits are a top priority when applying for or considering their next job.”

Additional data from LIMRA, a research organization, shows how many workers are now re-assessing their needs and preferences when it comes to employer-provided benefits — finding that dental insurance was among the top three benefits that were added or increased in 2020.

Dental and vision benefits contribute to overall wellness

The medical community is emphasizing the significance of regular, preventive visits to dentists and optometrists — and how our mouths, teeth, and eyes can reveal many potential health problems (from diabetes and cancer to cardiovascular disease). 

“Maintaining preventive care can help combat these concerning issues, leading to a healthier and more productive workplace and lifestyle,” said Dr. Dean Fry, the chief dental officer at Humana, a national insurer that provides innovative dental and vision plans.

A former firefighter for the Town of Davie, Florida, experienced this firsthand when a dentist helped save his life after he’d attended a wellness lunch-and-learn event. There, the dentist noticed a concerning health issue after doing an oral screening on-site. 

Post-event, during a follow-up visit, the firefighter found out he had an early stage of cancer. But thanks to this preventive screening, he was able to get the care he needed and eventually retired cancer-free. The Town of Davie’s HR department never forgot this particular case and continues to emphasize holistic-benefits education.

Impact of oral and ocular care on kids

Medical providers continue to underscore the need for children to receive preventive care, along with dental and vision check-ups. Access to employer-provided benefits that include employees’ kids is key in order to help avoid high, unplanned healthcare costs including emergency room visits, and school absence. 

According to the CDC, dental cavities are among the most common chronic diseases in children, and kids miss about 34 million hours of school due to unexpected dental complications. But employees should routinely bring their kids to the dentist for reasons that go beyond cavities as well, since dentists are able to recognize dietary-related problems that can lead to childhood obesity and even diabetes.

Vision care is also critical for kids since issues with the eyes can affect childhood development, learning abilities, and possible setbacks when they become working adults if left undiagnosed. For instance, a 2023 meta-analysis by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health concluded that myopia is a global problem that can affect overall quality of life and work productivity. And its progression can be “associated with prolonged near work and less time spent performing sports and outdoor activities.” Its onset is becoming more prevalent during childhood, with kids currently having immediate access to smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Offering dental and vision benefits can be critical to success of a business

Prioritizing dental and vision benefits is a win-win for companies and their employees. With these benefits, companies experience less absenteeism, have more engaged professionals, and help their employees manage their work-life balance.

“We offer innovative and flexible plan designs to ensure our members receive convenient access to dental and vision care,” Dr. Fry said. “From teledentistry for all ages to mobile dental clinics available right at the workplace, we help members get the care they need when and where they need it.”

See how Humana can deliver better benefits for your team

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