A WellPoint Survey Finds Baby Boomers Want Information on Dental Insurance
Oral Health Benefits are an Important Topic for Older Americans
INDIANAPOLIS -- December 9, 2013
A new WellPoint survey, which examines how Americans (age 45 and older) view
dental coverage benefits, reveals that Americans over age 45 understand that
good oral care can positively affect their overall heath. However, while 83
percent of Americans surveyed say they have medical coverage (from either an
employer or the government), only half as many are covered by dental
insurance. And, as baby boomers plan for retirement, those with dental
coverage say they need more information about future costs and changes to
their dental plan upon retirement.
This survey also shows that nine out of 10 older Americans (93 percent)
believe good dental care is important to their overall health and that routine
dental check-ups can help prevent heart disease and other chronic conditions
(90 percent). This awareness contrasts with the fact that only four in 10
older Americans (41 percent) say they currently have dental coverage (from an
employer, private and/or supplemental). Furthermore, 32 percent of those
without insurance admit to forgoing dental benefits because they have other
expenses to worry about.
In addition, older Americans with dental insurance are concerned about
maintaining their dental coverage upon retirement, with the majority admitting
they are not aware of all their options. More than half (53 percent) of older
Americans who have dental insurance worry about how they will afford coverage
upon retirement and 62 percent say they are concerned about how coverage will
change. And, two-thirds of older Americans say they lack information about
dental insurance for retirement and they want more information about the
dental insurance options available after retirement (67 percent) and about
supplemental dental insurance coverage (65 percent).
“There has been a positive surge of awareness around personal health and it is
assuring that baby boomers understand the link between dental care and overall
health,” said Dani Fjelstad, president of WellPoint’s Dental business.
“However, this survey uncovered a knowledge gap about dental insurance options
that employers and insurers need to address.”
According to the survey, older Americans look at a variety of sources for
information about dental insurance. Heath care providers top the list (17
percent), followed by insurance company websites (14 percent), human resource
departments (13 percent), family members (12 percent) and friends (11
percent). In comparing baby boomers to the previous generation, baby boomers
are significantly more interested in information about dental insurance
options (70 percent versus 59 percent) and supplemental dental coverage (68
percent versus 58 percent) for retirement.
Furthermore, older Americans with dental insurance (62 percent) say they would
like a plan that bundles dental and vision insurance together. WellPoint’s
affiliated plans offer a variety of supplemental coverage plans, which
includes dental and vision services. Packages may includes dental exams,
cleanings and comprehensive vision exams, as well as the SilverSneakers®
fitness program* (including a fitness center membership), older adult care
support resources, a member assistance program with counseling services, and
travel assistance for those who encounter a medical emergency while traveling
abroad (including medical evacuation to the nearest appropriate treatment
facility, bedside visits for a family member or a friend if hospitalized for
more than seven days or if in critical condition, and assistance in replacing
lost prescription medications or contact lenses)**.
Additional survey results found:
*Older Americans select dental coverage because it is vital to their
overall health (58 percent); is inexpensive compared to paying
out-of-pocket dental costs (52 percent); and protects them in case of
dental emergencies (44 percent).
*As part of their dental coverage, older Americans with dental coverage are
most interested in diagnostic and preventative services (77 percent),
minor restorative dental services (67 percent) and prosthodontics (54
*Nearly half of older Americans with dental coverage are interested in
coverage for oral surgery (47 percent), while four in 10 are interested in
emergency coverage (44 percent) and coverage for root canals (42 percent).
*Six in 10 Americans with dental insurance (61 percent) report they would
pay more for comprehensive dental coverage, while more than a quarter (27
percent) would pay more for dental insurance if it included benefits such
as fitness programs and/or legal or financial counseling services.
* The SilverSneakers Fitness Program provided by Healthways, Inc., an
independent company. SilverSneakers® is a registered mark of Healthways, Inc.
**Check the local plan details for the specific offerings available in
WellPoint’s Blue states (which includes California, Colorado, Connecticut,
Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York,
Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin).
The online survey was conducted using the field services of TNS, a national
research agency. The study reached a national sample of 2,500 American adults
ages 18 and older, of which 1,563 were over the age of 44. For the purposes of
this survey, “older Americans” are defined as Americans who are ages 45 years
and above (n=1,563), including Americans 45-64 (described as baby
boomers=1,142) and Americans 65 years and above (n=421). The margin of error
for the older Americans sample is ±2.5% at the 95 percent confidence level.
This means that if we were to replicate the study, we would expect to get the
same results (within 2.5 percentage points) 95 times out of 100.
About WellPoint, Inc.
WellPoint is one of the nation’s leading health benefits companies. We believe
that our health connects us all. So we focus on being a valued health partner
and delivering quality products and services that give members access to the
care they need. With more than 67 million people served by our affiliated
companies including approximately 36 million enrolled in our family of health
plans, we can make a real difference to meet the needs of our diverse
customers. We’re an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield
Association. We serve members as the Blue Cross licensee for California; and
as the Blue Cross and Blue Shield licensee for Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia,
Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City
area), Nevada, New Hampshire, New York (as the Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee
in 10 New York City metropolitan and surrounding counties and as the Blue
Cross or Blue Cross Blue Shield licensee in selected upstate counties only),
Ohio, Virginia (excluding the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.),
and Wisconsin. In most of these service areas, our plans do business as Anthem
Blue Cross, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of
Georgia and Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, or Empire Blue Cross (in the New
York service areas). We also serve customers in other states through our
Amerigroup, CareMore and 1-800 CONTACTS, Inc. subsidiaries. To find out more
about us, go to wellpoint.com.
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