Employee Benefits

Dental and Vision Benefits for Associations, Affinity Groups and Multi-site Employers

Adapted from an article written by Brent Jackson, Ameritas Group, published in Health Insurance Underwriter, July 2012


Associations, affinity groups or employers with multiple sites often have complex benefit needs, requiring creativity in finding the right mix of plans with a range of attractive product options. In national surveys, employees have indicated their preference for benefit packages that include dental and vision plans. Frequently employees do not have specific dental or vision needs, but they want the benefits for their dependent family members.

There are many dental and vision plans offered by different insurance carriers. The options can be confusing. Here are several tips for finding the right plans:

1. Group demographics. Associations, affinity groups and multi-site employers often have unique organizational structures. Typically members work from multiple locations, and many individuals have special needs or plan requirements. And depending on the geographic footprint of the group, some states may have regulations that must be addressed in the plan. Given these issues, the following ideas should be considered:

  • Cookie-cutter or “one-size-fits-all” plans probably won’t work
  • Traditional dental and vision benefit options may work for some  organizations
  • Individual plan options may be the best solution

2. Benefit goals. It’s important to define the goals for employee benefits. Most groups want to offer members or employees a range of plan choices that fit their benefit goals and budget. Employers seeking to recruit and retain quality employees recognize that benefits help them be competitive in the marketplace. While some groups offer dental and vision plans as voluntary employee-paid options, others provide these benefits at little or no cost to employees.

3. Flexible plans. Flexibility is critical for the carrier to develop benefit plan solutions that will meet a multitude of group member needs while increasing their satisfaction the organization and its benefits.

Many insurance carriers talk about having flexible plans, but look below the surface to find out what that really means. Some offer several plan choices, but with minimal options. A few others have the capability to design the plan from the bottom up, adding coverage options specific to the group.

4. Partner expertise. As new regulations related to health care reform are introduced in the insurance marketplace, it’s important to work with reliable insurance partners that understand market trends and are interested in your success.

Screen potential insurance carriers by asking several questions:

  • What is their core operational philosophy?
  • Do they offer a suite of plan options? Can they customize plans to fit group needs?
  • Is their administrative system designed to process claims with tailored components to accommodate different needs at each location and meet individual state insurance requirements?
  •  Does the carrier have a good reputation for its plans and customer service before, during and after the sale?

Look for an insurance carrier that wants to partner with you in designing and administering dental and vision plans. Choose one that can tailor plans to meet the needs of the members and those of their dependent family members.

Although many carriers claim to be experts on dental and vision benefits, few have the ability to analyze the group’s needs and identify a range of benefit options. Few also have the necessary experience and flexible administrative systems to build customized plans from the bottom up, ensuring that the group’s specific needs are fulfilled.