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Dental and vision insurance do more than meets the eye

It’s easy for clients – and people in general – to think of dental and vision insurance as nice-to-haves in the employee benefits package, but not essential forms of care. (After all, they’re not included in most health insurance plans.) Or maybe they think regular eye exams and dental care are important, but only for people with “bad teeth” or glasses.

That view is myopic. In truth, dental and vision insurance can be crucial for identifying health concerns that go well beyond the eyes and mouth. Dental health is linked to conditions such as cardiovascular disease, premature birth, pneumonia and endocarditis.1 Optometrists regularly spot diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure before physicians.2 And that’s apart from the 11 million Americans over age 12 who require vision correction (and everyone with a mouth needs regular dental cleanings.).2

It’s something that Mary, age 39, knows all too well. Upon beginning nursing school in hopes of embarking upon a career change, she realized she needed glasses because she couldn’t see the materials being presented in class. Her son had just gotten his first pair of glasses, and she assumed her own vision was suffering as well. “I’d always had perfect vision, but I figured I was just getting older,” she says.3

“I never would have thought to see an endocrinologist if it weren’t for my eye doctor.” – Mary, 39, thyroid cancer survivor

Her optometrist had two recommendations. One was glasses. The other was that she book an appointment with an endocrinologist. Mary’s eyes had a slight bulge to them, and the optometrist recognized that as a symptom of certain thyroid conditions. On her eye doctor’s recommendation, Mary saw an endocrinologist. Suddenly she had a diagnosis more worrisome than nearsightedness: thyroid cancer.

“I never would have thought to see an endocrinologist if it weren’t for my eye doctor,” Mary says. Apart from her eyes, she had no symptoms whatsoever.

Her family’s vision insurance helped Mary – and her clear-eyed optometrist – catch the condition so early that she required only minimally invasive treatment, and she’s now cancer-free. But it’s all too easy to imagine a scenario in which she didn’t have vision coverage, and didn’t book that visit because the out-of-pocket costs were too great.

Mary’s story shows that dental and vision coverage are important in ways that go beyond the obvious. Aflac’s dental and vision insurance plans don’t skimp on the basics, of course. They work similarly to health insurance, paying benefits to providers when insureds receive care such as dental exams and cleanings, eye exams and corrective lenses.4,5 They also pay benefits for procedures such as dental crowns and cavity care.

Much of the time, the basics are all your clients will need. But when it comes to people like Mary who have a condition that can be spotted with routine vision or dental care, that care goes beyond elemental and becomes lifesaving.