UnitedHealthcare Dental Launches Teledentistry Option to Help Plan Participants Avoid Unnecessary ER Visits

June 24, 2020 | 3 min Read
  • New offering is part of UnitedHealthcare Dental’s comprehensive response to COVID-19, which also includes financial support for customers and enhanced payments for network providers 

UnitedHealthcare Dental continues to evolve its products and services to improve access to oral care, while lowering costs. The latest offering includes teledentistry services designed to reduce unnecessary emergency room (ER) visits and more efficiently get patients to the most appropriate setting for in-person care.

In addition, UnitedHealthcare Dental is providing important financial support to employers and network dentists in response to COVID-19.

Dental care ranks among the most frequently avoidable emergency room visits,1 with teledentistry providing a resource that may help plan participants make more informed decisions about where to go for care. While many dental practices have re-opened for routine care with appropriate precautions related to COVID-19, telehealth resources – along with at-home hygiene habits such as brushing twice a day and daily flossing –  continue to take on added importance in helping people maintain proper oral health and reduce the risk of exposure associated with avoidable in-person visits.    

“These actions to improve the access and affordability of dental care for our customers and plan participants are a continuation of our enterprise’s comprehensive steps in response to COVID-19, including financial relief for customers and support for network providers,” said Colleen Van Ham, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Dental. “As the COVID-19 situation continues, these solutions are designed to expand coverage, support health care providers and bolster the well-being of the people we serve.”  

Details of this comprehensive approach include:

  • Teledentistry capability for dental plan participants that provides access to at-home telephone and video consultations for advice and guidance to an appropriate setting for in-person care, such as their own dentist, another local dentist with availability or a primary care physician*. The resource is available at no member cost sharing (i.e., waived deductible and copay) or extra cost for people enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s fully insured employer-sponsored, Medicare Advantage and select Medicaid dental plans**. Teledentistry is available to eligible plan participants by calling the UnitedHealthcare customer service number on the back of their member ID cards.  
  • Premium relief for employers with fully insured UnitedHealthcare group dental benefits, giving customers a 50% one-month premium reduction in July. This is part of the $1.5 billion of support to customers provided by UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) in response to COVID-19 challenges***.
  • Enhanced care provider payments totaling up to $10 million through the end of 2020 for many network dentists for certain services related to routine exams, emergency services and initial evaluations for children and adults****. Enhanced payments range between $5 and $10 in addition to the dentist’s contracted fee for applicable services. Network dentists may be eligible to gain access to a portion of UnitedHealthcare Dental’s relief package by enrolling at   

UnitedHealthcare Dental serves more than 13 million people enrolled in employer-sponsored, Medicare and Medicaid plans, helping provide access to care via a network of nearly 120,000 dental professionals.  

*Not all dental services are eligible for teledentistry.

**Waived member cost sharing for teledentistry for eligible plan participants valid until Sept. 30, 2020; eligible teledentistry services will not apply to the frequency or annual out-of-pocket maximum under the terms of the benefit plan. Medicaid state-specific rules and regulations may apply. For Medicaid state specific details, please refer to your specific state UnitedHealthcare Community Plan website.

***Premium relief may not be available in all states.

****Enhanced rates available until program funding is exhausted and may not be available in all states or for all dental plans. 

About UnitedHealthcare

UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and making the health system work better for everyone by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. In the United States, UnitedHealthcare offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers, and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals, and 6,500 hospitals and other care facilities nationwide. The company also provides health benefits and delivers care to people through owned and operated health care facilities in South America. UnitedHealthcare is one of the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified health care company. For more information, visit UnitedHealthcare at or follow @UHC on Twitter.

1 International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 2017,