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The more benefits, the better. According to President and Founder of Innovo Benefit Group, Eric Gulko, robust benefit offerings can help employers stand out in tight labor markets. The article, written for Boston Business Journal, is shared below with its original content. 

Jessica Bartlett, Reporter


The state's Health Connector has something to smile about.

Dental enrollment on the state’s health insurance exchange has reached a record high, with over 100,000 individuals enrolling in the benefit. 

Dental plans have changed minimally year-over-year, with still four carriers offering 19 dental plans on the Health Connector. Even still, as of Jan. 2, 102,000 individuals were enrolled in dental benefits for January — a 14 percent increase from last year. It is the first time the program has had over 100,000 enrollees. 

Small-group enrollment, which is geared to businesses, also saw an uptick in utilization, with 1,632 small-group members enrolled in dental benefits this year — up 30 percent from the same period last year. That growth was likely driven by the overhaul of the small group platform two years ago, which made it easier for enrollments into dental benefits. 

More still may join, with Massachusetts open enrollment available through Jan. 23. 

Benefit experts said it was unclear why people were flocking to dental benefits on the exchange. Eric Gulko, president of Concord-based Innovo Benefits Group, said given the tight labor market, employers have not dropped dental coverage to their employees. If anything, they have changed plan designs to make the benefits more robust. 

Steve Walsh, a registered health underwriter with Hingham-based The Magellan Agency, said that while employers have retained their own dental benefits, the increase could be due to the state's aging population.  

“We’re all getting older and people are realizing they have to take care of their teeth if they want to keep them,” he said. 

Though dental benefit enrollment has seen massive growth, medical benefit enrollment has remained steady with years past. According to the Health Connector, 294,564 people enrolled as of Jan. 2 for January coverage. Though that represents a 7 percent increase from the same time last year, the connector said it was a figure consistent over the last three years.