Thistle saved 41% on dental benefits with Level

By Ashley Koh, Actuarial Lead, Level

Around this time last year, Thistle shifted its dental benefits from a fully-insured plan to a self-funded plan from Level. With over 140 full time eligible employees, making the switch to self-insurance wasn’t an obvious decision at first. Thistle had previously worked with one of the largest insurance carriers in the US, so the company worked with its benefits consultant to conduct a careful evaluation of all the top players in the industry before choosing Level.

While self-funded plans offer cost-savings and customizations, they can be prohibitively complex for businesses without large benefits teams to manage them year-round. Level changes this by helping businesses of all sizes reap the benefits of self-insured dental and vision plans, and companies like Thistle have seen exciting outcomes just one-year in.

Cost allocation comparison between fully insured and self insured plans.

Thistle stopped paying for unused dental benefits

With self-funded insurance, companies only pay for what they use. As a result, over the course of the second half of last year, before COVID-19, Thistle had saved 35 percent on their plan. With a strong investment in preventative care (that includes no deductible) the company was only using about 75 percent of their budget. This is common for companies that have a young, healthy workforce where expensive treatments may not be as common.

COVID-19 impacted the plan further, as people everywhere are forgoing routine care and only seek emergency treatments. On a fully-insured plan, Thistle would still pay what they were before, regardless of how members are using their plans. By only paying for used benefits, Thistle has saved 41 percent on their dental plan when looking at the last twelve months, year-over-year.

We recognize that what is happening during the pandemic is not a long-term sustained impact. Companies shouldn’t pay for unused benefits and times like these have demonstrated why. Adding to this, by providing Thistle with full access to utilization data, they are able to better assess the actual impact of COVID-19 on how people are using their care, so they can better predict what is to come next year.

Long term savings that get better over time

Dealing with cost increases during renewals can also be a challenge for many companies. According to a survey by Heffernan, dental premiums for PPO plans increased an average of 4.9 percent a year since 2016, which is higher than the typical rate of inflation. To keep costs under control, companies often have to negotiate with carriers for better rates and discounts, or switch plans to get a better deal.

With Level, Thistle not only saw immediate savings, but will also realize longer term savings as costs remain stable and transparent throughout the years. We believe that instead of negotiating for fairer prices with every annual renewal, businesses can save time and money by simply paying for what’s used.

Thistle can instead focus its time on delivering the best plan for employees. Level offers analytics and reporting that help companies better understand how a plan is being used at a company based on the claims that are filed. With this information, Thistle can adjust and tailor its plan over time to help meet the diverse and changing needs of its growing employee base.

A better experience for employees

While savings is important, Thistle also wanted to make sure that employees were able to go to any dentist they wanted, with little disruption. Our national network of dentists is competitive with large carriers, which made the transition to Level easy, as many of the dentists that were in-network with Thistle’s previous plan are also in-network with Level.

Our app also makes it easy to do more with your care, whether it’s finding a dentist nearby, getting a cost estimate for a treatment, or viewing a claim in real-time. Thistle members that used our app were 2.5 times more likely to go in-network, because we make finding a new, convenient dentist easy. This means extra savings for both Thistle and its employees. On average, members that went in-network saved 39 percent on the cost of a treatment when compared to the out-of-network price tag.

After going to the dentist, we believe people shouldn’t have to wait weeks for a letter in the mail to find out what it’s going to cost. This year, we’ve processed 20 percent of claims from Thistle members instantly and 72 percent of claims were processed within two days, while the industry average is weeks. Once a claim is processed, Level sends a push notification to the member so they can see exactly what they’re going to owe and what was covered by the plan.

With thousands of members today, we wanted to share an update on the exciting progress we’ve seen with a customer that’s been with us since day one. If you’re interested in learning more about Level and how we can help your business with supplemental benefits like dental, fill out this form or email sales@level.com to get in touch today.