Dental Insurance: A Big Opportunity During the ACA Down-Time

Now that the initial annual open enrollment period has come to a close, many agents are twiddling their thumbs and wondering what to do with their time until the Marketplace opens up again in mid-November.

Here’s an idea: sell other products!

Yes, it’s true that, aside from special enrollment opportunities that are created by life-changing events or by an employer dropping its group health insurance, most Americans will be unable to enroll in ACA-compliant individual health plans until November 15th, the first day of the next open enrollment period. But not all types of plans are limited to this open enrollment period.

One good example is dental insurance, and a recent report in Vox shows that there’s a huge unmet need for this type of coverage. From the article:

“Eighty-six percent of exchange enrollees opted not to purchase a stand-alone dental plan, which covers the teeth cleanings and other oral health services not typically included in major medical insurance. This means that lots of people gaining insurance through the health care law might not have better access to dentists. And that’s actually a pretty significant public health problem.”

As the article correctly points out, dental health is a “weirdly good indicator of overall health. Inflamed gums, for example, can be an early warning sign of a number of significant diseases, including HIV, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Gum disease, left unchecked, can lead to bigger health problems. It’s considered a risk factor, for example, for stroke and heart attack.”

While approximately 127 million Americans, according to the report, have dental coverage through an employer, about 180 million do not. And this creates an opportunity for agents with a private exchange website who are looking for a reason to talk to employers during the “off-season” – whether those employers offer group health coverage or not.

These employers could certainly consider using their buying power to put in a group dental plan, and some of the stats from the Vox article might encourage them to do so. But even companies that don’t want to invest in dental coverage can help their employees by giving them access to individual dental plans through a private exchange. The employees will appreciate it, and their overall health could improve as a result.

As an added bonus, every employer an agent talks to over the next few months will be a great prospect for individual health enrollments when the open enrollment period begins again in November. Since agents have an opportunity to sell dental and other ancillary products while they’re out talking with these employers, it’s like getting paid to prospect.

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