More than half of U.S. employers offered health insurance and about one-third offered dental insurance in 2006

Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365

Dental insurance is a major factor in whether or not a person seeks out and uses dental care. Yet only 35 percent of U.S. employers provided dental insurance in 2006. About 56 percent of all employers offered health insurance and 63 percent of those also offered dental insurance that year. These findings are based on analysis of the 2006 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey-Insurance Component, conducted by Philip F. Cooper, Ph.D., a researcher at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Richard J. Manski, D.D.S., M.B.A., Ph.D., from the University of Maryland Dental School. The survey, sponsored by AHRQ, included about 30,000 private-sector establishments. The survey also showed that dental insurance coverage varied by employer characteristics. Employers most likely to offer dental coverage were nonprofit or for-profit, incorporated, had multiple locations, and were older firms. There was also a trend for larger firms to offer dental insurance compared with smaller firms.

Employers in the agricultural or construction sectors were less likely to offer dental coverage compared with those in other job sectors. Dental insurance was also more likely to be offered at firms with more full-time employees and fewer low-wage workers. The provision of health and dental coverage also varied by State. For example, 90 percent of all establishments in Hawaii offered health insurance and 78 percent offered dental insurance. This compared with only 40 percent of all employers in Alaska offering health insurance and only 23 percent of employers in Nebraska offering dental insurance. There were also low rates of employer-provided dental insurance in Maine and Vermont. Both States have low concentrations of large firms, indicating that company size may be a major determining factor as to whether or not dental insurance is offered by a particular employer.

More details are in "Characteristics of employers offering dental coverage in the United States," by Drs. Cooper and Manski, in the June 2010 Journal of the American Dental Association 141(6), pp. 700-711.

Current as of January 2011
Internet Citation: More than half of U.S. employers offered health insurance and about one-third offered dental insurance in 2006: Research Activities, January 2011, No. 365. January 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/jan11/0111RA24.html