Access to dental care at an early age is essential to overall wellness, both in childhood and beyond. That’s why during this February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, SEIU 775 Benefits Group is celebrating our new Dependent Dental benefit as a crucial investment in the long-term wellbeing of caregivers’ children.
Despite routine dental care’s importance, many children suffer from inadequate oral care and its related impacts.
Thirteen percent of children aged 2-19 have untreated tooth decay (called “caries”) making it one of the most common health issues for kids. This tooth decay leads to cavities, and if left untreated, pain, infection and tooth loss. Children from families with low incomes, who often cannot access a dentist regularly, are twice as likely to have caries. Barriers to accessing dental coverage and care lead to even more adverse outcomes for Black and Hispanic children.
The associated pain and discomfort stemming from limited access to dental care can negatively impact kids’ school attendance and performance. And poor oral health is associated with chronic conditions later in life, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Our new Dependent Dental benefit builds upon SEIU 775 Benefits Group’s high-quality training, health, retirement and job-matching benefits for Washington’s caregivers.
For caregivers, receiving dental care for themselves and their kids has often been difficult. Caregivers, who are predominantly women, Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) and immigrants, have historically been subject to low wages and limited benefits. This is because caregiving has long been treated as “women’s work” – whether taken on benevolently or imposed through race-based and sexist structural injustices. As such, the caregiving profession has long been undervalued and underinvested in.
Since 2008, Washington state has been rectifying these inequities and becoming a national leader in investing in the caregiving profession. Our new Dependent Dental benefit builds upon SEIU 775 Benefits Group’s high-quality training, health, retirement and job-matching benefits for Washington’s caregivers.
Caregivers were able to sign their children up for our Dependent Dental benefits during the July 2022 Open Enrollment period, with coverage going into effect in August. Following enrollment, an internal assessment of our caregivers underscored the necessity of this new benefit, including that:
- A large share of caregivers have dependents: About 40% of our caregivers have a child under age 26, the maximum Dependent Dental enrollment age.
- Large gaps exist in dependent dental coverage: Among caregivers who applied, 38% of their children were not covered by any dental insurance plan.
- Delayed dental care is common: Nearly half of caregivers had to delay dental care for their children during the previous 12 months.
Our new Dependent Dental benefit plays a vital role in closing gaps related to coverage and access to care. For just $10 per month, caregivers can enroll their children on this comprehensive plan.
Given these realities, our new Dependent Dental benefit plays a vital role in closing gaps related to coverage and access to care. For just $10 per month, caregivers can enroll their children on this comprehensive plan which includes:
- Routine care, such as cleanings, X-rays, fluoride, sealants and fillings.
- Restorative care, including root canals, restorations, periodontics and other oral surgeries.
- Orthodontia treatment.
We all deserve to have benefits that ensure regular access to quality care. Our Dependent Dental benefit is helping set up caregivers’ kids for a lifetime trajectory of better oral and physical health – and that’s something to smile about.