Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why Good Dental Coverage Saves Companies Money on Employee Health Claims

UnitedHealthcare conducted a study which found that by improving dental health of people with chronic medical conditions (cardiovascular disease, diabetes and asthma, in particular), employers can save more than $1000 per person, per year on their medical costs. The $1000 savings is above and beyond the cost of the dental coverage. This is good news for companies looking to lower the amount of money they pay out on their employee's health costs, especially when those companies integrate medical benefits with dental benefits, as well as providing wellness support programs to workers.

This study showed that people with the above-mentioned chronic medical conditions who received appropriate dental care (i.e. exams, x-rays, cleanings as well as treatment of gum disease) had a net medical/dental claim cost that was on average $1038 lower than those who were chronically ill but who didn't receive adequate dental care. Benefit savings was greatest among diabetics who lowered their claim costs an average of $1279 per year.

In addition, the study also revealed the following relationship between an integrated (i.e. medical + dental) approach to healthcare coverage;

  • Total average medical costs were lower across all chronic conditions for people who received periodontal treatment or cleanings compared to those who did not receive such services, even after accounting for the costs of additional dental treatments.
  • People with chronic conditions who received regular cleanings (at least three times during the three years) had the lowest health care costs of any other dental treatment group (i.e. infrequent cleanings, no cleanings).
  • The savings were also significant for people who received regular dental care, but were not compliant with the recommended care for their chronic medical condition. Among the group receiving dental care, annual average medical costs were $2320 lower than those not receiving dental care, with net savings of $1829 after accounting for the cost of the dental care.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people with chronic medical conditions account for over 75% of health care costs in the United States, which is probably why an increasing number of employers are developing strategies to improve the health of employees with these conditions.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Can Poor Dental Health Give You an STD?

According to a study published in Cancer Prevention Research, bad dental health (i.e. gum disease, tooth loss, etc.) has been linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) which is a STD transmitted via oral sex. HPV is spread through sexual contact and is usually associated with cervical cancer in women.

Both the number of sexual partners a person has throughout their lifetime, along with their age at sexual debut, has been associated with sexually-transmitted HPV. As the majority of HPV cases are seen in younger people, there has been a dramatic fall in the age of the average mouth cancer sufferer.

The More The Not Merrier 

The report also found those who said they had poor dental health were twice as likely to have had multiple HPV infections. Of more concern, though, is the link between HPV and mouth cancer with experts in the UK suggesting that one in five mouth cancer cases will likely be a result of the HPV infection.

"The research suggests keeping this infection at bay is relatively simple", says Dr. Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation. "The HPV infection is very common and is a major reason mouth cancer cases have soared over the last 30 years. Our knowledge of HPV remains relatively low, which suggests there is not enough awareness of the risks we take with multiple sexual partners."

Who Was Surveyed 
The authors of the study identified 3,439 people aged 30-69 years from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for whom data was available on oral health and the presence or absence of 19 low-risk HPV types and 18 high-risk HPV types in the oral cavity were available.

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