How much should group dental insurance cost?

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The most common word people use to describe dental benefits is “expensive.” Not far down the list is “boring.” If we’re doing our job right at Beam Benefits, it won’t be long before you start thinking of dental as something entirely different: affordable.

The most common word people use to describe dental benefits is “expensive.” Not far down the list is “boring.” If we’re doing our job right at Beam Benefits, it won’t be long before you start thinking of dental benefits as something entirely different: affordable.

To help you make sound decisions on benefits and find the right dentist, let’s open up the black box of dental coverage underwriting so you can better understand how groups are priced. Below are a few factors that can impact a group’s premium as you look at plans. However, remember that the most important consideration should be the value of any given benefit to you and your team.


Let’s start with a simple one: location. If you think about it, dental plans ultimately pay dentists for procedures they perform on patients. Naturally, not every dentist charges the same, and a big factor of their rates is their location. Think rent for office space in the middle of Iowa is the same as in Manhattan? Not quite.

So what happens? Dentists charge more to cover their expenses and insurance has to pay them more, so the carrier, in turn, charges more for a group. It’s not complicated, but based on your company’s location, your rates could be significantly higher or lower than a similar group in a different location.

Workforce demographics

While you may not realize it, workforce makeup is a big factor in determining a dental plan rate. Is the group made up of a large number of young, generally healthy employees? Are there a lot of pre-teen dependents primed for braces? Does the group have a high percentage of older employees who are likely to need more extensive dental work in the coming years? Ultimately, there are aged-based factors that play into dental plan pricing, and workforce demographics are the objective proxy for those factors.


This is an interesting one, as it may not be intuitive for dental insurance. Just as other industries (e.g., construction) pay more in workers’ comp insurance, some industries will pay more for dental insurance. In the entertainment industry, it’s not unreasonable to expect entertainers to have "perfect" smiles. As a result, they require more dental services and pay higher premiums. What about professional athletes? They’re at much higher risk for tooth and jaw damage and, as a result, pay more for dental insurance. Desk workers at a startup or small business, however, can expect to pay a bit less than average.

Coverage type

Specific premiums also depend on a plan’s coverage levels. Coverage levels are the percentage of the cost of care paid by the insurance company. Carriers may have different tiers of plans with varying levels of coverage, ranging from basic to comprehensive. For instance, Beam has four tiers of SmartPremium plans to meet a range of needs of our clients. Naturally, a higher-tier plan with any carrier will cost more than a basic preventative plan. Ultimately, most carriers will probably offer a plan that fits within your budget, especially when you consider that you don’t have to contribute to 100% of the costs. Perhaps you just pay for employees, not dependents, or you could even offer a completely voluntary plan, which is still valued by employees because of the most beneficial rates versus individual plans.

Beyond price

Beyond the cost and coverage of the insurance itself, I suggest you include two other considerations in your decision:

  • What is the cost of not having a group dental plan?
  • What is the true value of a dental benefits plan?

The first point comes down to this: employees will have to pay more for services and, on average, see the dentist less frequently for preventative care if they don’t have a dental benefits plan. This not only has quality of life and worker productivity ramifications, but it can also affect major medical costs.

As to the value of a plan, this is ultimately how we encourage you to make your decision. Yes, budget comes into play and you want to stay within that, but you don’t necessarily want the “cheapest” dental plan. As you’re evaluating plans and pricing, ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • Will this plan cover the needs of employees?
  • Does this carrier offer additional technology or services (e.g., digital enrollment, employee communications) that make managing the plan easier?
  • Are there any other tangible benefits that come with this plan?

At Beam, we agree that cost is important, and we hope this post helps you understand a bit more about what goes into pricing a plan. But thinking beyond pricing can ensure you’re receiving great value for your team. Dental benefits are a very real cost, and you want to make sure you’re finding the best dental plan for your team.

Shopping for dental benefits?

≃ For informational purposes only and not intended to be relied on as complete information, or to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not a sale of or an offer to purchase a benefits plan from Beam. For more information about your benefits plan, contact

ӿ Rate requirements vary by state.

** Dental insurance product underwritten by National Guardian Life Insurance Company (NGL), Madison, WI, marketed by Beam Insurance Services LLC (Beam Benefits Insurance Services LLC, in CA). Dental policy form number NDNGRP 2020. Dental product underwritten by Nationwide Life Insurance Company, Columbus, OH in NY, DE, ID, LA, UT, OH, TX and NM.  Dental product administered by Beam Insurance Administrators LLC (Beam Dental Insurance Administrators LLC, in Texas). Not all Products Available in All States.

National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Madison, WI, is not affiliated with The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, a.k.a. The Guardian, or Guardian Life.

Nationwide and Beam Insurance Services LLC are separate and non-affiliated companies.

National Guardian Life Insurance Company, Two East Gilman, Madison, Wisconsin 53703

Nationwide Life Insurance Company, One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH 43215