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Market Update

31 January, 2012

The future of dental and the challenges that lie ahead.

Denplan’s Henry Clover discusses.

The Department of Health is by far the largest sector for Government spending, with an overall budget of around £114.4bn. Dentistry only represents around 3% of this budget, so with capital growth on the decrease, it’s easy to understand why access to NHS dental care remains an issue for many people. Dental is, however, increasing in popularity as an employee benefit for exactly this reason and can be far more then a bridging product for PMI.

Growth of Private Dentistry

When looking at the growth of primary dental care over the last ten years, it’s clear that private dentistry is growing faster as a sector than that of NHS care. In fact, around 20% of dental patients are choosing to pay for their dentistry privately or through a benefit scheme*.  Interestingly, from that 20%, around a third of all dental income in the UK is generated, indicating that private dentistry is becoming more popular and more profitable than NHS care.

NHS Pilots

Pilots for a new NHS dental contract are currently in progress and around 70 practices are taking part in testing different models of capitation – something which payment plan providers have been using for many years. The difference being that the new NHS pilots are testing models of capitation based on factors such as age, sex, and areas of deprivation, rather than a community-rated system. There will be a public consultation in July 2012 following the pilots – resulting in contracts potentially being introduced in April 2014. Therefore, it seems likely that issues surrounding NHS access will continue to be a topic of concern for the foreseeable future.

Dental as an Employee Benefit

Dental payment plans as an employee benefit – whether fully or part funded – provide an ideal opportunity to provide regular dental care at an affordable level.  Costs for a dental plan with Denplan start from as little as £4 per employee, per month and some providers offer a wide range of value-added services for both companies and employees – not to mention broker-specific benefits. It also allows employers to fulfil their duty of care, increase employee retention, and reduce the risk of employee illness through regular check ups.

From a business perspective, research indicates** that cost is a key factor for companies in selecting benefits, with over 50% of company decision makers citing cost and value for money as the primary basis for choosing benefits. However, there is a strong second tier of factors that play a part for a large number of decision-makers, including the regularity of use by employees, and the potential to enhance employee wellbeing. Looking at companies reviewing their benefits in 2011, 31% of companies not currently offering a dental plan are considering adding one.

*Source: Laing & Buisson Survey of Dental Practitioners, 2009

**Survey conducted online, by Denplan, with 626 employee benefit decision makers in UK companies in January and February 2011. Second survey conducted online by YouGov on behalf of Denplan in January and February 2011 with a nationally representative sample of 3,106 UK adults, 1,814 who work full or part time

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