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ADA-sponsored plans stand out among insurance options for member dentists

April 23, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

More and more, ADA members are finding that the ADA Insurance Plans are their No. 1 choice in the insurance marketplace.


Dr. Fink

For good reason—the plans offer cost savings, special features tailored specifically to meet the needs of dentists and a long history with the ADA.

“Our members recognize the combination of quality and value that the plans provide year after year,” said Dr. Steven Fink, chair of the ADA Council on Members Insurance and Retirement Programs. “Our 78-year-old relationship with Great-West Life & Annuity Insurance Co. has grown and expanded to provide better value for ADA members. Our council is made up of ADA members who oversee the programs to help members get the best value possible.”

ADA Insurance Plans offer a number of products that are available exclusively to ADA members as a benefit of membership:

  • Term Life Insurance Plan: Provides low-cost, yearly renewable term insurance and premiums based on life expectancy.
  • Term Plus (Universal Life) Plan: All the benefits of Term Life, but you also get a Policy Value Account that lets you save on a tax-deferred basis.
  • Income Protection Plan: Coverage that helps protect you from financial loss due to a disabling illness or injury.
  • Office Overhead Expense Plan: Income Protection protects your personal income, while Office Overhead Expense coverage reimburses you for business expenses (employee salaries, rent, utilities, loans, etc.) to help keep your practice viable if you become disabled.
  • MedCASH Plan: Supplemental medical insurance that pays cash benefits directly to you with no strings attached. For one low premium, protect yourself against the cost of hospitalization, ER visits, outpatient surgery, cancer treatments and even more critical conditions.

There may be a lot of insurance products on the market, but there are unique aspects that set the ADA Insurance Plans apart. First, the plans are designed specifically for dentists. No one else can receive coverage, except member dentists, their spouses or domestic partners, and children.

Great-West Life, which administers and underwrites the plans, says that more dentists and families are being insured than ever before. In 2011, the insurance products reached a five-year high with 104,810 people receiving coverage from one or more of the ADA plans.

The growing popularity of the ADA Insurance Plans is related to specializing in ADA members. “We only underwrite dentists,” said Tylor Sidener, director of sales and marketing for the ADA Insurance Plans at Great-West Life. “We know dentists very well, and we know they are healthier than the average person.”

This is a distinct advantage for members who choose ADA Insurance Plans: high quality coverage that is among the most competitive in the marketplace. Great-West has found that ADA Insurance Plans’ premiums are lower than that of other products due to the economies of group plan administration; reduced costs for marketing thanks to direct mail and online applications; and experience-rated programs that allow for favorable financial results to stay in the plans in the form of premium credits or plan improvements. Plus, to return maximum value to members, the ADA receives minimal reimbursement to cover ADA expenses associated with the plans.

Lower rates do not mean less coverage either. The February McGill Advisory newsletter said “doctors can save thousands of dollars annually by switching to a lower cost group plan,” and cited the ADA’s Income Protection Plan as an example of one that’s less expensive than privately issued disability insurance policies.

One aspect of income protection and office overhead that shows how the plans are tailored to dentists’ needs is the “own occupation” definition of disability. Own occupation means that disability is determined by the inability to perform the duties of your specific occupation or profession. For dentists who practice clinical dentistry, your occupation is the clinical practice of dentistry. If you can’t practice because of a disability, you may be forced to change careers.

“Any occupation” coverage doesn’t consider you totally disabled if you are still capable of performing the duties of another occupation that you’re reasonably suited for, such as teaching or consulting. Own occupation is the most generous policy definition for disability protection—and the ADA Insurance Plans offers it.

“Great-West pays your full benefits if you’re disabled and can’t work in your special area of dentistry. Period,” said Dr. Fink. “They even pay if you’re able to practice other types of dentistry or choose to work in another occupation. They understand that our hands are the essence of our livelihood.”

The ADA Insurance Plans also fund Student Term Life insurance, which is offered at no charge to ASDA/ADA student members. It’s one way the ADA invests in students and helps them make a successful transition to practice.

Dental students also face the risk of debt becoming a burden to their families should they die or become disabled during their education. In addition to $50,000 in Student Term Life (ensuring debt protection for student loans and other financial obligations), the ADA Insurance Plans include Student Disability insurance, which provides a source of income if an illness, injury or accident prevents the student from completing dental school, and a loan repayment benefit in the event of disability. The Student Disability Plan benefits are also offered at no charge to ASDA/ADA student members.

Members who want to learn more about ADA Insurance Plans can visit insurance.ada.org or call a plan specialist at 1-888-463-4545.

Look for the ADA News to offer an occasional series in 2012 highlighting specific parts of the ADA Insurance Plans.