Randy Stodard, vice president and chief marketing officer for Delta Dental of New Jersey, understands the confusion and double takes.
DeltaVision, the vision program the insurer introduced last week in a partnership with VSP Vision Care, can appear to be a bit of an outlier for the company. After all, vision care seemingly has nothing to do with oral health care.
Stodard, however, knows something most others don’t: Studies have shown that all medical care is linked — and that increases in one area of care can impact others.
“According to a study by the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine, medical-dental integration improves positive health outcomes in vulnerable populations, such as at-risk children, pregnant women, seniors and those in need of chronic disease management,” Stodard said.
“Essentially, that report underscored a fact that we’ve experienced firsthand in New Jersey for more than 50 years — that oral health and overall physical health are inextricably linked. Oral health care is a critical component to overall wellness. This especially is true for at-risk populations.”
It’s why DeltaVision should not be viewed as a new business lane for Delta Dental of New Jersey, but as a widening of the coverage road it already has.
Stodard said it’s part of an overall effort to improve health care — and follows the same pattern as the company’s introduction of teledentistry and the recent awarding of more than $760,000 in grants by its foundation.
“As a New Jersey-based company, we’ve taken on the mission to educate our communities about that fact and to encourage more regular dental care,” he said. “We actively seek to address the issue through our day-to-day business — providing affordable access to dental care — and through direct work in the community.”
The recent grants by the Delta Dental of New Jersey Foundation provided positive support to more than 14,000 residents in the state, Stodard said.
“These programs include bringing dental care to children, seniors, at-risk populations and veterans — care that they otherwise would not have; care that also addresses overall health conditions to which they may be exposed,” he said.
And, while the idea of combining dental and vision coverage may seem new, it’s not. Delta Dental of Connecticut launched the program in 2021. And Stodard said Delta Dental and VSP have partnerships in other states, too.
“Our research indicated that individuals and businesses in New Jersey also wanted affordable and effective products to address vision, much in the same way we’ve provided dental coverage,” he said. “Given the experience and knowledge that we have providing specialty coverage for dental, we know how to meet the demand for vision through a similar structure.”
The coverage offering will go into effect Jan. 1.
Stodard said Delta Dental will be offering small and large businesses vision and dental plans — either combined or separately. And, while you do not have to be an existing customer or be a current member of Delta Dental to access the vision plan, Stodard said the Connecticut experience showed businesses are likely to join Delta Dental to access DeltaVision — and possibly access the company’s dental plans, as well.
“The response in Connecticut has been even greater than we expected,” he said. “This especially is true given that we launched it during the height of the pandemic.
“We need to give credit to our broker network. They have been instrumental in bringing their customers innovative products and services. We realized that in Connecticut and anticipate the same in New Jersey.”
More coverage, Stodard said, leads to more interactions with health care professionals — and, thus, better coverage.
It’s one of the reasons the company introduced its teledentistry service.
“The teledentistry program stems from the very same consumer and business demand as our vision program — having the confidence that you or your employees have access to key elements of health care in a timely, cost-effective manner,” he said.
“The large nationwide network available through the partnership with VSP allows that same access to care.”
Stodard said the vision plan aligns with Delta Dental of New Jersey’s overall mission.
“It is part of our philosophy toward addressing overall health,” he said. “Remember, dentists and optometrists are trained to detect numerous health conditions by observing early warning signs in the mouth and eyes.
“We anticipate our dental and vision plans to help improve the overall health for our customers through earlier detection and intervention.”
Reach Delta Dental of New Jersey at: deltadentalnj.com or call 973-285-4000.
Reach VSP Vision Care at: vsp.com or call 800- 877-7195.