Last year marked a milestone year for dental care and insurance.At the end of 2012, more than 187 million Americans had dental coverage, an increase of 11 million people from the previous year, new research finds.It’s the first time that enrollment for dental insurance has hit 60 percent of the U.S. population. The previous two years’ enrollment was at 57 percent of the population, up from 55 percent in 2009.The enrollment numbers come from an annual joint report from the National Association of Dental Plans and the Delta Dental Plans Association, which have been compiling numbers since 1994.Most of the reported growth in dental enrollment can be attributed to an increase in employment, researchers said. Additionally, there were three first-time company participants that provided data for this report accounting for about 1 percent of the total enrollment. Even without these additions, enrollment grew by approximately 5 percent in 2012.“The recent launch of the state and federally facilitated exchanges provides an additional avenue to expand dental coverage in future years,” NADP Executive Director Evelyn Ireland said.Whatever the reason, benefits insiders say the increase in enrollment is positive news for the industry.“We’re pleased that the report shows more Americans have access to dental insurance,” said Steven Olson, president and CEO of Delta Dental Plans Association.“Studies have shown that people with dental benefits visit the dentist more regularly, so increased access to dental coverage should result in improved oral health across America,” he said.Additionally, the report found: The trend toward DPPO products is continuing among commercial products with 78 percent of all commercial dental benefits. The percent of enrollees making some financial contribution toward their coverage was 99 percent for Discount plans, 93 percent for DHMO plans, 94 percent for DPPO plans, but only 45 percent for Dental Indemnity plans. The population that receives dental benefits coverage through Individual policies and products doubled from last year; up from 2.4 percent to 5 percent. Less than 0.5 percent of dental benefits are integrated with medical policies and 99.5 percent are provided under a separate dental policy.
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