Regular and routine dental and vision exams are some of the best ways to prevent and detect common ailments that can cause serious (and costly) health issues. Prevention is even more important for the millions of Americans with diabetes and prediabetes.
More than a quarter of adult Americans are prediabetic. In fact, 11% of U.S. adults have diabetes. Not only is the chronic illness prevalent, diabetes is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.
At the same time, oral and vision health are major indicators of overall health, and diabetes predisposes people to (and makes it harder to heal from) many common oral and vision problems. That means prevention is especially important for anyone with diabetes.
Left unchecked, diabetes not only impacts a person’s overall health, but can also affect their pocketbook. People with diabetes pay more than double the average medical costs of the rest of the population, and the condition costs the U.S. $327 billion each year in medical bills, missed work, and decreased productivity.
Preventing acute oral and vision health issues can cut into these costs in the short term and stop them from leading to even more health issues in the future.
Dr. Dean Fry
Chief Dental Officer, Humana
“Not only is absenteeism an issue when considering the dental health of employees, but oral problems are responsible for half of all cases of performance reductions in the workplace.”
Practicing good dental hygiene can impact more than just a pretty smile. Proper oral care also makes it possible to avoid being part of the 27% of sickness absences and half of all cases of performance reduction in the United States due to oral health problems.
“It’s crucial for workplaces to offer dental benefits so employees can maintain preventive care,” said Dr. Dean Fry, Chief Dental Officer at Humana, a national insurer that provides dental and vision plans. “Not only is absenteeism an issue when considering the dental health of employees, but oral problems are responsible for half of all cases of performance reductions in the workplace.”
One of the best ways to prevent oral health issues like gum disease, gingivitis, and periodontitis is daily self-care — brushing, flossing, healthy diet — and making sure you see your dentist for a cleaning and check-up at least twice per year.
Prevention is even more important for those with diabetes. “If you have diabetes, you’ll likely have increased sugar levels in your saliva,” Dr. Fry said. “That means gum disease can be particularly severe and take longer than usual to treat.”
Health insurers like Humana can help make sure you and your employees receive the dental care needed to avoid these costly and often painful conditions. They offer plans that cover up to three dentists’ visits per year and can even cover extras like mobile dentistry visits for your organization to make cleanings more convenient.
Dr. John Lahr
Medical Director, EyeMed
“Providing vision benefits can help support employees’ health by getting them the care they need when they need it most.”
Due to increased blood sugar levels, people with diabetes are at risk of the blood vessels in their eyes becoming damaged. This condition is called diabetic retinopathy (DR) and it’s the leading cause of blindness among adults aged 20-74.
Fortunately, getting a dilated eye exam every year can help detect DR before it becomes severe, allowing for early treatment and reducing risk of blindness by 95%.
“Eye exams do much more than ensure your glasses prescription is up to date,” said Dr. John Lahr, the Medical Director of EyeMed. “Detecting and treating these conditions can help save your vision, allowing you to continue enjoying and participating in all aspects of your life.”
Dilated eye exams also allow for early detection of cataracts, glaucoma, and macular edema, all of which are associated with diabetes.
“Diabetes management that includes vision care can make a real difference and impact healthy outcomes,” Dr. Lahr said. “Providing vision benefits can help support employees’ health by getting them the care they need when they need it most.”
Chief Growth Officer of Group Benefits, Humana
“[Vision and dental benefits] are now viewed as the cost of entry if you’re looking to attract and retain top talent.”
Caring for the health and wellness of your employees is critical for finding, hiring, and retaining the people your organization needs to succeed. That’s why encouraging and supporting regular and routine vision and dental care is important for maintaining a healthy workforce.
“Vision and dental benefits are no longer seen as ‘nice-to-have’,” said Hayley Doran, Humana’s Chief Growth Officer of Group Benefits. “They’re now viewed as the cost of entry if you’re looking to attract and retain top talent, and to help maintain a healthy and productive workforce.”
November is Diabetes Awareness Month, a great time to ensure you are properly caring for the well-being of your employees. Humana offers flexible plan designs that empower team members to receive the dental and vision care they need to stay healthy and happy while helping reduce sick days and lost productivity.
Connect with Humana to learn more about group dental and vision benefits.
 US NIH, National Library of Medicine, Oral health in the context of prevention of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace, Dec. 2019