UnitedHealth rolls out new virtual options for dental care

UnitedHealthcare Dental is launching multiple digital resources aimed at making it more convenient for members to manage their oral health, the insurer announced this week.

UHC will enhance its 24/7 virtual dental benefit to provide two free virtual visits with a dentist per year, an upgrade that will be made available to fully insured employer plans. During these visits, members can seek advice telephonically or via video about acute oral health needs, as well as find guidance on where to access care in-person if needed.

UnitedHealth notes in the announcement that oral health needs are among the most frequent conditions causing avoidable emergency room visits. The virtual option aims to make it easier for members to find care in the most appropriate setting.

“As more and more Americans adopt a digital-first mindset, these new resources are designed to help our members improve and maintain their dental health, which may contribute to overall well-being and help reduce the risk of certain chronic health conditions,” said Colleen Van Ham, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Dental, in a statement.

RELATED: KFF: Analysis finds out-of-pocket spending on dental, hearing in Medicare far outweighs vision benefits

“These new initiatives advance UnitedHealthcare’s approach of using technology to improve access to quality, cost-effective medical and dental care while empowering people with personalized information," she said.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare Dental will offer 30% discounts on quip smart toothbrushes to eligible members, according to the announcement. These toothbrushes sync with an app via Bluetooth to track brush duration, tooth and gum coverage and other information.

UHC is also offering a plan to select employers with between 100 and 2,000 employees in Illinois, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia that will provide the toothbrush at no cost. Eligible members in these plans can also earn up to $600 in financial incentives for meeting certain daily brushing goals.

UnitedHealthcare Dental will additionally launch a new treatment plan calculator, which aims to enable members and dental care providers to make more informed decisions. The tool will offer cost estimates based on the member's plan and applicable contract rates.

UnitedHealth said in the announcement that it will generally honor the tool's estimate, even if the actual cost of care ends up being higher, to avoid surprise bills for the member.