Expanding upon a standing marketing agreement, MetLife and SafeGuard Dental & Vision today introduced dual option dental plans that combine the strengths of MetLife’s preferred provider organization (PPO), also known as MetLife’s Preferred Dentist Program, with SafeGuard’s dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) to give employers greater flexibility for offering their employees dental benefits that best meet their needs.  While there are multiple choices for employees, employer administration is simplified as a consolidated account management team oversees enrollment, implementation, eligibility, billing and ongoing service.  The offering is available to employers with 25 or more employees in the states of California, Florida, and Texas.

“MetLife research reveals that employee retention reigns as the top benefits objective for employers and controlling health/welfare benefits costs is a close second – hence the demand for creative benefit solutions that can help achieve both.  Given the importance of oral health, we are pleased to provide this response to local market needs since a dual option dental benefit can help fulfill the requests of both employers and employees in areas where the popularity of DHMOs is high,” said Mike Schwartz, vice president, MetLife Dental Product Management.

DHMOs have a strong, stable presence in CA, FL and TX markets.  According to the National Association of Dental Plans regarding the enrollment in DHMO plans in 2006, these three states accounted for 59% of DHMO enrollment nationwide– an increase of 13% over the prior year.

“Gone is the day of a one-size-fits-all employee benefits plan.  To increase the satisfaction of a diverse workforce, it is important for employers to offer a selection of benefits options.  SafeGuard’s marketing agreement with MetLife enables employers to offer a quality DHMO option along with a strong dental PPO offering in a seamless manner, making it easier for them to give employees more choices,” said Jim Buncher, chairman and chief executive officer of SafeGuard.

Separate from the expansion of the existing marketing agreement, in August MetLife announced it had executed a definitive agreement whereby it would acquire SafeGuard.  Closing of the transaction is anticipated within a few months, subject to regulatory approval.

MetLife, through its subsidiaries, administers dental benefits for nearly 21 million people, more than any single commercial carrier.   Delivering dental benefits in the marketplace for 45 years, MetLife is dedicated to developing and offering innovative product solutions, promoting technologies that make utilizing dental benefits easier and creating educational resources for employers, plan participants, and dentists. MetLife’s relationships within the dental community have enabled it to build a strong Preferred Dentist Program (PDP) consisting of carefully selected general and specialty dentists in over 100,000 dentist locations nationwide.

MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the United States and the Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions.  Through its domestic and international subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world and MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force).  The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement & savings products and services to corporations and other institutions.  For more information, please visit

SafeGuard Dental & Vision® is a family of companies that is part of privately held SafeGuard Health Enterprises, Inc.  Founded in 1974, SafeGuard was one of the first companies to introduce the concept of managed care dental products.  SafeGuard now provides HMO, PPO, ASO and Scheduled Benefit dental plans as well as vision plans to its membership.  In the over 30 years that SafeGuard has been an industry leader, membership has increased to 1.8 million.  The company is a key ancillary benefits provider to Fortune 500 companies, educational institutions, employee benefit trusts and government agencies.  SafeGuard’s primary markets are California, Florida, Texas and Nevada.  For more information see


Karen Eldred