With healthcare costs continuing to skyrocket — along with fears of triggering the “Cadillac” tax in 2018 — employers are looking into what kinds of benefits they can cut. 

But there are two benefits that should remain a last resort for cuts: dental and vision benefits.

Three reasons for this:

  • When structured correctly (as stand-alone options) key ACA regulations don’t apply to these benefits. In other words, the coverage won’t count toward your Cadillac tax thresholds. Remember, the 40% excise tax will kick in for any health plans for which premiums exceed $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for family coverage. If you create dental and vision plans separately from health plans, you can avoid having their premiums count toward those thresholds.
  • Routine eye and dental exams can be instrumental in diagnosing underlying health issues before they spiral into long-term problems. Examples: Vision checkups can help employees detect diabetes or hypertension earlier (and more cheaply) than they would through a primary care physician. The same is true of dental check-ups, which can often help uncover early warning signs of heart disease.
  • When employees have vision and dental coverage, emergency room visits for such problems can be significantly reduced, saving health plans a ton on ER visits.

What workers want

Another reason dental and vision should become (or remain) a core part of your benefits package: Employees’ interest in these offerings is increasing.

Case in point: A 2014 SHRM study found that 83% of the workers who were offered vision coverage enrolled in the plan, compared to the 78% who did so the prior year.

A separate study by MetLife also found that 76% of employees would be interested in voluntary dental coverage if it was offered by their employer.

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