However, she reports that capitation plans are becoming “increasingly expensive”, driving the popularity of corporate sponsored schemes, “not only as a sustainable benefit to the individual, but also in an effort to ensure employees are not spending significant amounts of time away from their jobs at the dentist near their home address.”
In London, Enrich is seeing a shift towards alternatives to fully insured schemes and “a lot of interest” in the Barbican or Practice Plan scheme, where a specific dental practice is used by all members of the scheme and specific treatments are available for a fixed cost per member.
“These types of scheme are also extremely beneficial to the employer as the individual does not need to take a half day off work to attend their local dentist; the surgery is close to the business address,” explains Williams.
She has also noticed an “increasing trend” towards cosmetic treatments such as teeth whitening and veneers which are not be covered under dental insurance but can be paid for under the dental element of a cash plan policy. In fact, cash plans, which include dental cover, are becoming a popular add-on for members who already have PMI cover, according to Williams.
Overall, the future looks bright for private dentistry. The UK market for dental services was worth £7.2bn in 2010 and forecasts suggest this could grow to £8.2bn by 2014 with much of the growth coming from the private market. The 2011 MetLife study of employee benefit trends found that one-quarter (24%) of employees ranked dental as one of their top three most important employee benefits. Almost half (49%) ranked it in their top five. Regardless of the outcome of the OFT review, employees should continue to value a benefit that takes the financial pain out of a visit to the dentist.