Collaborative project with SDHF on ‘Provision of Dental Healthcare Benefits to Employees in Singapore’

Survey on the Provision of Dental Healthcare Benefits to Employees in Singapore

This is a two phase project initiated by the Research Centre in collaboration with the Singapore Dental Health Foundation (SDHF) [the organisation of volunteers working to increase dental awareness and promote dental health in Singapore].

The phase 1 of the project involved conducting a study to understand the major challenges and issues faced by employees (specifically lower income group and the blue collar workers) and organisations (SMEs) in Singapore with regard to the implementation of the dental benefits plans followed by Joint Awareness/Intervention Programmes.The survey report has been released.


Executive Summary

This survey assessed the provision of dental health benefits to employees in Singapore with a focus on blue-collar workers, lower-income group and SMEs. The survey also attempted to understand the opinions of HR professionals and employees about preventive dental care; their level of awareness and desire for dental health benefits. The ultimate objective is to use the information to design effective and well-accepted healthcare programmes for employees, particularly for the lower-income group.

Key findings

  • The prevalence of the provision of dental care plans is significantly less than general healthcare even though 92% of the respondents agreed that preventive dental care is important to maintain general health.
  • 58% of the respondents are aware of the possible connections between dental health and diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions.
  • 64% of the employees surveyed do not regularly (at least twice a year) visit a dentist.
  • The respondents who did not visit a dentist regularly (primarily in the age group of 21-30 years and earning less than SGD1500 per month) mentioned the following reasons for not doing so:
39% – Do not have any pain/problem
27% – Busy / No time
18% – Do not want to spend money
10% – Employer does not provide dental benefits
 7% – Dental check ups are not necessary
  • 68% of employees (mainly lower-income workers) reported they would visit a dentist only if their organisation pays for it with 81% of them stating they would go for regular visits even ifthey were not in pain.
  • Nearly half of the HR professionals (42%) surveyed agreed that dental benefits could be used as a differential HR strategy for employee retention

An effective dental benefits plan targeted at lower-income group would have the following features:

  • Emphasis on preventive dental care
  • Rewards for the practice of regular dental maintenance visits
  • Regular communication of the importance of preventive dental care and the details of the dental benefits plan.

The implementation of a dental benefits plan especially for the lower-income group would allow them to practise preventive care and thereby reduce the cost of general healthcare.

As this group is least likely to practise preventive care, due to financial constraints, the provision of dental care would generate employee loyalty and productivity.