Workplace Wellness with Allan Allford

President and CEO
Delta Dental of Arizona

What innovations and products have you launched recently or are preparing?

It’s been an exciting 18 months at Delta Dental of Arizona. Last year, we introduced new dental plans for individuals and families that emphasize the importance of establishing good oral health habits at an early age by waiving premiums for children less than three years old. We’re not aware of another dental insurer with such a strong commitment to promoting optimal health that they are willing to provide free dental coverage to the youngest members. This year, we’re testing removing the dental annual maximum for covered benefits to see what implications that has on member oral health, benefits utilization and claims. But perhaps most exciting is our partnership with Lydian Dental to create Arizona Mobile Dental Services LLC (AMDS) and offer our clients with at least 500 employees on-site dental services. That innovation was a direct response to the discovery that nearly 40 percent of our members fail to see the dentist annually for preventive care because it’s just not convenient to their work schedules and demands.

To provide a sense of what is happening in the industry, please share the challenges you are addressing to enable superior healthcare services for your clients.

Dental benefits is a highly competitive business in Arizona, with more than 15 carriers in the market. While most, if not all, our competitors lease and stack their networks, Delta Dental owns its network and contracts directly with the dentists. The competitive marketplace and the propensity for competing insurers to rent their networks at lower rates has created tremendous downward pressure on dentist reimbursement. We are challenged to respond to these marketplace changes while continuing to foster good relationships with our participating dentists and provide our clients with the comprehensive benefits coverage and superior customer service that we’re known for.

In what way(s) are you focused on helping business?

As all business leaders know, the competition for top talent is fierce. One way businesses can better compete to attract the best and most qualified employees is to offer a robust benefits package — and dental insurance is consistently among the benefits top talent requests. When choosing between employers, 88 percent of job seekers say they would give better health, dental and vision insurance options some or heavy consideration, even if the pay is lower. For the last two years, we’ve been hyper-focused on helping small businesses compete against much larger companies for talent — companies that typically already offer dental insurance as part of their comprehensive benefits package. By removing many of the barriers small and micro-businesses have, we are helping to level the playing field. We’re also focused on helping all our clients. With healthcare costs rising each year, we decided to bend the cost curve by offering a rate pass to clients renewing their pooled group dental plans in 2019. By providing affordable dental benefits to all Arizona businesses regardless of size, we are helping them reduce lost work hours, recruit talent, retain talent and, potentially, keep their healthcare costs down.

About Delta Dental of Arizona

Delta Dental of Arizona is the leading dental benefits provider in Arizona, serving more than 1.2 million enrollees and more than 3,500 contracted dentists across the state. Passionate about oral health and its importance to generations of families, Delta Dental of Arizona has worked for more than 45 years to improve oral health by emphasizing preventive care and making dental coverage accessible to a wide variety of employers, groups and individuals.


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