March 2019

Improving Customer Experience and Reducing Claim Costs on Group Dental Plans

For most people, visiting the dentist is probably not on their list of “top-ten favorite things to do.” But it’s an important part of maintaining good overall health. And employers stand to benefit when employees visit the dentist on a regular basis. That's because studies have shown a correlation between receiving regular preventive dental care and lower dental costs. In fact, according to a Cigna Dental study, members who received regular preventive care over a five-year period saw dental costs decline steadily – with average savings of 31% PMPY in the 18-64 age group1. That same group also saw a reduced number of visits to the emergency room (36% less) and admissions to the hospital (39% less)1.

It’s clear that practicing proper preventive dental care can reduce dental costs down the road. So the question for most employers becomes, “How do we encourage and empower our employees to take advantage of these important services and maximize the value of their dental benefits?” There seems to be plenty of opportunity for employers to educate and engage their employees when it comes to benefits.

According to LIMRA, benefits account for up to 30% of total employee compensation2. Yet, some employers allocate limited resources and personnel to make sure that their employees understand and value those benefits2. The gap becomes even more evident when employers are surveyed about their efforts:

  • 6 in 10 employers do not have a formal benefits communications plan2.
  • 9 in 10 of those who do have a plan never measure its success2.

It’s natural to look to the dental plan carrier for help. After all, employers typically choose a dental carrier to provide a whole host of services, including access to a network of discounted providers, claim management and customer education (just to name a few). But what else can a carrier do to help engage customers to make the most of their plan and get the dental care they need? The answer lies in two other questions: “What do customers want from a dental plan and their experience at the dentist office?" and "How do employers and plan carriers respond to those needs?”

There are a lot of things that are important to dental consumers, but two items stand out3:

  1. They want to know that the dentist is in their plan's network.
  2. They want to know that the dental office staff is recommended - based on patient reviews.

Carrier Solutions.

Dental carriers who want to stay ahead of the curve recognize the importance of preventive dental care and are ready to respond to the expectations of today’s consumer. But many may not recognize the role they can play in engaging and empowering customers with the kind of information that can help them choose the right dentist for their needs - within a network designed to help them save on dental costs.

How Cigna can help your clients reach their employees.

In 2016, Cigna Dental was the first carrier to integrate tools in its provider directory for an innovative customer experience. The user-friendly online tool provides the very information patients say is important to them, such as:4

  • Provider Reviews: When customers search for providers on, they get immediate access to dentist profiles. These profiles include detailed information regarding years of experience, professional affiliations, any professional sanctions, areas of specialty and even photos and videos of the practice. Customers can also use the Brighter Score® feature to see how providers compare with their peers. Brighter Score ratings provide a way to compare dentists based on factors including professional history and verified patient reviews, so customers can easily determine who may be the best fit for their specific needs.
  • Network Access: When Cigna Dental customers use, they can not only search our large networks for a dentist that meets their needs, they can also view estimated costs, based on their specific plan. This information helps them understand that network dentists may charge different amounts for the same service, so customers can choose accordingly when it comes to getting the care they need.

In addition to these tools that respond directly to the needs of customers, Cigna Dental also offers customers the ability to schedule appointments right online once they choose a dentist.

Engaged customers can drive more savings.

The tools provided on the myCigna® website are working. And we know because our customers are telling us they are. Cigna Dental DPPO customers surveyed on were very positive about their experience.

  • 94% find the dentist reviews helpful in choosing a provider5
  • 37% of those surveyed say they would change dentists based on the search tools5

We’ve also seen the impact that the use of has on costs and network utilization. In a recent study, we reviewed claims for two groups of customers. One group visited and had a claim, and the other group did not visit and had a claim. The results?

  • Customers in the group that "visited and had a claim" submitted 8.6% more in-network claims and saved, on average, 36.2% more than customers who did not visit myCigna.com6.

When customers can access tools to help them save on their dental care, it’s a win-win for the customer and the employer. Savings to the customer helps them make the most of their dental plan dollars, while savings through improved network utilization helps clients maximize the money they invest in dental benefits.

For information about Cigna Dental, or how myCigna can help your clients and their employees save on dental costs, contact your Cigna Representative.

  1. Preventive Dental Treatment Associated with Lower Medical Utilization and Costs,” national Cigna study presented at the International Association for Dental Research Meeting, March 2015, Boston. Updated with additional 2018 data.
  2. “What Dental Patients Want.” 2016 Futuredontics Whitepaper
  3. Actual features may vary by dentist. These and other dentist directory features are for educational purposes only and should not be the sole basis for decision-making. They are not a guarantee of the quality of care that will be provided to individual patients and customers should consider all relevant factors when selecting a dentist.
  4. myCigna Opinion Lab Survey, July 13, 2016.
  5. Cigna 7/2018 analysis of dental claims and activity between 2/1/17-4/30/18.