Buying Dental/Vision Insurance for Your Small Business | 10 Key Questions to Ask 

Posted on March 31, 2024
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So you’re a small business owner and you’re ready to take the next step to attract and keep top talent: You want to add dental and vision coverage to your employee benefits package. Congratulations.

Providing attractive employee benefits can result in big payoffs for your small business, sometimes even more than raising wages or paying cash bonuses.

But you’ve never chosen an insurance carrier before and feel overwhelmed. What questions should you ask to ensure you buy the right dental and vision plans for your employees?

Here is a list of important topics you’ll want to clarify.

10 Questions to Ask When Shopping for a Dental/Vision Insurer For a Small Business

  1. How large is the carrier’s provider network?

    Obtaining dental or vision care from in-network providers typically results in cost savings for your employees. A large dental network covers an extensive geographical area and includes both general dentists and specialists, such as pediatric dentists and orthodontists. A large vision network will include local private eye care practices plus retail outlets and even online options. If your business is local and you have a handful of employees—and they all happen to be young singles—you may not value a large network or a wide selection of specialists. But if your staff is demographically diverse and located in different parts of the state, an extensive provider network will most likely be a must.

    Ask the carrier for a detailed network map or list.

  2. Where are the network providers located?

    This is another way of testing the strength of the insurer’s provider network. Check if the participating dentists and eye doctors are conveniently located near work or your employees’ homes. Also find out if they are accepting new patients.

    Ask the carrier for an online provider directory and do some spot-checking.

  3. Does the carrier provide local support to its networks?

    Insurance companies that provide education and training tools about how they operate tend to establish highly productive partnerships with their network providers. Ask the carrier what they do to serve their participating dentists and eye doctors.

  4. Are there any application fees, service fees or paper billing fees?

    Any proposal you’ve received will probably list monthly rates and benefit schedules. But there may be additional administrative costs, so be sure you ask about them and obtain a written quote.

  5. How will the carrier bill me?

    Policy premium payments can be billed in different ways. The insurance carrier might bill you directly or bill your agent or broker. It might bill monthly or quarterly. It might offer financing, usually with interest charges, or not. Find out and decide what fits best with your cash flow.

  6. Does the carrier allow their contracted network providers to balance bill patients?

    Balance billing occurs when a participating network dentist or eye doctor bills the patient for the difference between the amount they charge and the amount allowed by the insurance. Most insurance companies don’t allow balance billing. Their network providers agree to accept the approved fees as payment in full.

    However, out-of-network (non-participating) providers are not limited in the amount they may balance bill.

  7. Does the insurance carrier outsource the processing of claims and customer service?

    Some insurance companies handle claims processing and customer service in-house. Others contract with third parties. Either approach can work very well.

    Do a hands-on test to view the plan from your employees’ perspective. How easy is it to submit claims or will the providers handle that?

    Call customer service to find out how long you’ll have to wait for assistance. Is customer service available in languages other than English to support non-English speaking employees? And check customer service hours to ensure that your employees have plenty of opportunities to reach out for help.

  8. What online and mobile services does the carrier offer to providers and members?

    Everybody values the 24/7 convenience and ease of online account access and information, preferably on their phones. Ask the insurance carrier for a demonstration of their digital tools. Check the online resources. Can members view their explanations of benefits or pay any out-of-pocket expenses online? How mobile-friendly is the website? Is a mobile app available?

  9. Will an account manager be assigned to your business, and how experienced are they?

    Ideally, you’ll be assigned to a designated individual who understands the unique needs of small businesses. The account manager will be your main point of contact at the carrier to advocate for your goals, facilitate communication with sales and customer support and resolve any conflicts. Some administrative services will be provided at no charge; others will incur costs.

    Ask the carrier how you will be served as a client once you sign the contract.

  10. What administrative services will be provided at no cost?

    What administrative services will be provided at no cost? The list of your needs may be lengthy: customer support, technical assistance, product education, and more. Meeting your requests might involve several departments and several levels of expertise. So ask up front which administrative services will be provided free of charge and which ones incur costs.

Using these questions as a guide, compare the quotes from several insurance carriers. Don’t hesitate to ask additional questions and ask for references. And always:

Check out Dental and Vision Insurance by Delta Dental of Arkansas

We offer

  • Arkansas’s largest network of dental providers
  • One of the state’s largest network of vision providers
  • A portfolio of dental and vision plans specifically designed for small businesses
  • Competitive rates
  • Individual customer service for dental insurance clients and members provided in-house at our Sherwood, Arkansas, headquarters
  • The Delta Dental Difference®.

Please find all the details here and then call or send us an email. We can’t wait to meet you.