Dental and Vision Insurance for Small Businesses: The Ultimate Guide

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Dental insurance and vision coverage are two of the most commonly overlooked employee benefits when it comes to small businesses. However, these types of employee benefits can be extremely valuable for employees, and they are not nearly as expensive as you might think.

In this blog post, we will discuss the essentials of dental and vision insurance for small businesses. We will cover what they are, what you need to know about both types of insurance, and we will also discuss whether or not dental and vision insurance can be added to existing health insurance group coverage.

Does My Small Business Have to Offer Dental and Vision Insurance?

The simple answer is no, unlike health insurance (or retirement plans in California), your small business is not legally required to offer dental insurance or vision insurance. However, that does not mean that you should not consider offering these types of benefits to your employees. Dental and vision insurance are both highly valued by employees, and they can help attract and retain top talent.

cute piggy bank
Dental and Vision insurance can help small businesses attract and retain employees without breaking the bank.

What’s the Benefit of Offering Dental Insurance and Vision to My Employees?

There are a few key benefits to offering dental and vision insurance to your employees. First, as we mentioned above, these types of benefits are highly valued by workers. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly 60% of employees would prefer dental and vision benefits over other types of perks like gym memberships or pet insurance.

Additionally, offering dental and vision insurance can help you attract and retain top talent. Many workers will not even consider working for a company that does not provide a job offer with dental benefits and vision, so if you want to stay competitive, it is important to offer them.

Finally, dental insurance and vision are relatively inexpensive when compared to health insurance. This means that you can show your employees that you care about their well-being without breaking the bank even when you’re hiring your first employees.

Dental and vision insurance for small businesses typically cost much less than health insurance benefits.
Dental and vision insurance for small businesses typically cost much less than health insurance benefits.

Aren’t Dental Plans and Vision Insurance for Small Businesses Expensive?

The cost of dental and vision insurance will vary depending on the size and location of your business, as well as the type of coverage you choose. However, these types of plans are typically much less expensive than health insurance, so they are a great way to provide valuable benefits to your employees without major spending.

Unlike a health plan which can run several hundred dollars per employee per month, dental and visions plans can be offered for a fraction of that cost.

To get an idea of how much dental and vision insurance will cost your business, talk to a few different insurance product providers that offer small business plans.. But for example, eHealth has dental and visions plans starting for as little as $10 a month per individual.

insurance policy with magnifying glass
Dental insurance for small businesses comes in many different types of dental plans.

Dental Plan Options

Vision plans tend to be relatively straightforward, so let’s start with the different types of dental plans available to consider before you purchase dental insurance. The best option for your business will depend on your budget, the dental benefits you would like to offer, and the needs of your employees.

Dental Health Maintenance Organizations (DHMO)

The most common type of dental plan is a Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO). This type of plan offers low monthly premiums and covers preventive care, like teeth cleanings and x-rays, at 100%. DHMOs typically have no deductible and require no or very low copayments for dental care with an in-network dentist and are often excellent at providing dental preventive services that are aimed at helping patients stay healthy.

However, DHMOs typically have a smaller network of dentists to choose from and do not cover out-of-network dentists. They also may not provide dental coverage for more expensive procedures, like crowns or braces, and will require a referral from your in-network dentist for dental care by a specialist.

woman in a dental chair dentist showing xrays
DHMO can be a lower-cost dental insurance for small businesses.

Dental Preferred Provider Organizations (Dental PPO)

Another option is a dental Preferred Provider Organization (a Dental PPO). PPOs have higher monthly premiums than DHMOs and are usually subject to annual maximums, but they also have a larger network of dentists to choose from and they typically cover a wider range of dental services.

A dental PPO offers a much higher degree of flexibility in your dental care than in a DHMO. With a dental PPO, you are not required to get a referral from your in-network dentist to see a specialist and some dental plans even have plan provisions that provide some coverage for out-of-network dental care (although not at the same level as their in-network providers).

dental mouth guards novicane shot
DPPO is a type of dental insurance plan that provides greater flexibility to small business employees.

Dental Indemnity Plans

Finally, you may also want to consider a dental indemnity plan. This type of dental plan allows employees to see any dentist they want for their covered services, but it typically has the highest monthly premiums.

Dental indemnity plans usually provide a flat rate of dental benefits for each of the dental care services covered. So for example with one of their covered services like a cleaning, an employee could go to any dentist they want for that cleaning, and a pre-set rate will be paid for the cleaning. If the cleaning costs more than the pre-set rate, the employee would have to cover the balance.

Dental savings plans are not dental insurance, but can be an alternative way for small businesses to provide benefits.

What about Dental Savings Plans?

Sometimes the question of dental savings plans comes up. To be clear, dental savings plans are not insurance, but they do offer some of the same benefits as dental insurance for your dental care and oral health. And dental savings plans can be an affordable alternative to dental insurance that can help you save money on dental care.

With a dental savings plan, you pay an annual fee and are provided with a dental discount ID card that you can take to any participating dentist when you visit them for a pre-negotiated discount.

When you show the dental discount ID card, it confirms that you are to receive a pre-set discount on your covered dental care. The discount will usually depend on the type of dentist being seen and the dental care being provided. Usually, dental savings plans have no annual maximums or waiting periods involved.

Vision Plan Options

When it comes to vision plans, there are two main types of plans: vision health plans and vision discount plans.

Vision Health Plans

Vision health plans offer comprehensive coverage, including eye exams, glasses, and contact lenses. These types of plans typically have higher monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs.

Vision Discount Plans

Vision discount plans do not cover eye exams or corrective lenses, but they do offer discounts on a variety of vision-related products and services. These types of plans typically have lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs.

Which type of dental or vision plan is right for your business will depend on your budget and the needs of your employees.

Can I Add Dental Coverage and/or Vision Coverage to Our Health Insurance?

If your business already offers health insurance, you may be able to add dental and vision insurance to your existing plan. This is often the most cost-effective option for businesses, as you can take advantage of discounts for bundling different types of coverage.

Additionally, if you have employees who are already enrolled in your health insurance plan, they will not have to go through the process of enrolling in a separate dental or vision plan. This can save them time and make it easier for them to get the coverage they need.

To see if adding dental and vision insurance to your existing health insurance plan is an option, talk to your health insurance company and see what options may be available to you.

man sitting at des with arms folded over his neck
Shopping for dental insurance for your small business is not simple!

What Else You Should Know about Dental Insurance for Small Business

There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for dental insurance for your small business.

First, most dental plans have a waiting period before they go into effect. This means that if you enroll in a dental plan today, your employees will not be able to use their dental benefits until the waiting period is over. The length of the waiting period varies by plan, but it is typically between 30 and 90 days.

Second, dental insurance plans often have an annual maximum benefit. This means that the insurance company will only pay out a certain amount of money each year for dental procedures. Once your employees reach the annual maximum, they will have to pay for any additional dental costs out of their own pockets.

Finally, it is important to remember that dental insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. This means that if your employees already have dental problems, they will not be covered by the plan.

As you consider offering dental and vision insurance to you employees, it’s important to consider all of your options. is a helpful tool that can help you comparison shop dental and visions plans from major carriers from across the country.

The Bottom Line on Dental Insurance and Vision for Your Small Business

Dental and vision insurance are not legally required, but they are valuable benefits that can attract and retain employees. There are a variety of dental and vision plans available, so it is important to do your research to find the right plan for your small business. Tools like can help you find a cost-effective option for your business.

Please note: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice. If you need legal or financial advice, please consult with a licensed professional in your area.

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