Bento Dental Interview

Written by Breakroom Team

On March 16, 2022

Breakroom Benefits recently spoke with Jeremy Cutler, Bento Dental’s Marketing VP, on how the company has developed a culture of innovation, human connection, and success since its founding in 2017. Read on to find out more about Bento Dental.

About Jeremy Cutler, Marketing VP Bento Dental 

For almost three years, Jeremy Cutler has served as the Marketing Vice President of Bento Dental. Jeremy worked in the fashion and retail industries before joining Bento. When Jeremy initially started working at Bento, he was intrigued by the fact that dental care is still regarded as a “luxury.” He has spent his entire career in the luxury industry, and he believes that dental care is a necessity. Jeremy believes everyone should be able to afford quality dental care.

 Jeremy believes his career move to Bento Dental was a fantastic opportunity, and that his position in dental benefits has allowed him to stand by a product that he genuinely believes in. Helping people understand what’s available to them has served as a driving force behind Jeremy and Bento Dental’s continued success.

What is Bento Dental? 

Bento is a technology platform that empowers, employers, organizations, dentists, and individuals to provide and/or receive affordable oral health care plans without traditional insurance companies. Bento is an end-to-end platform that connects plan sponsors (groups or corporations), members, and dentists by processing plan payments and providing crucial information. This includes real-time estimates, receipts, and plan details. Endorsed by the American Dental Association, Bento is the solution of the future.

How Is Bento Different From Traditional Dental Insurance Companies? 

First, Bento is a platform, not an insurance company. We recognized at Bento that fantastic dental benefits and programs may be achieved without handing over all our unused funds to insurance firms. We enable organizations to provide customizable, self-funded dental benefit programs that meet their specific needs. Organizations can create and offer flexible plan designs and even mimic traditional insurance plans. Unlike with fully-insured dental insurance, the unused funds remain with the companies, not the insurance company. This allows organizations to take these funds to improve their benefits in the future. Depending on the plan design, either the organization or the member is only responsible for paying for the services that are actually used – saving 20% – 40% compared to fully-insured dental plans.

Traditional dental coverage isn’t really coverage at all. Unlike vehicle, home or health insurance, you are not covered if something goes wrong. Members of traditional dental insurance plans typically pay high premiums, but when they need work done like an implant or a crown, only a fraction of the total procedure cost is covered.  Not to mention the fact that you’re only protected up to your annual maximum. Only 6% of Americans actually use benefit up to their annual maximum, resulting in significant profits for traditional dental insurance firms.

How Was Bento Dental Founded? 

Ram Sudireddy, a serial entrepreneur, started Bento in late 2017 with the goal of providing a lifetime of affordable oral healthcare to every American.  Taken aback when the dentist requested $3,000 up cash before extracting his son’s wisdom tooth, Sudireddy was appalled that the $2,000 a year he spent on dental premiums for his family was not enough. Sudireddy explained, “I paid $20,000 over ten years and they only handed me $1,000 when I truly needed it.” Ram aimed to find a better option after quickly discovering that typical dental insurance is a sham. He decided to create a modern, transparent experience for everyone.

 Thus Bento Dental was founded to eliminate inefficiencies and wasteful costs while increasing savings, enhancing access to care, and providing a better experience by creating an end-to-end platform that integrates all parties.

What Challenges Does Bento Dental Face? 

Bento Dental faces an uphill battle competing with large, established and well-funded competitors who monopolize the industry. With these companies controlling the major dental distribution channels, Bento still has some ground to make up in terms of recognition and adoption.

That said, this is a tremendous opportunity to disrupt the status quo. These large competitors have been complacent for an exceedingly long time, and the technologies they use are outdated. Bento is nimble, creative, and uses modern technology that provides us and our partners with a significant advantage.

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How Has Bento Dental Changed Since Its Inception? 

While disrupting the dentistry sector, we’ve learned a lot. While our ideals have remained constant, our product has evolved. The reach of Bento’s dental network is now noteworthy with over 350,000 dental access points as of November 2021. Many new features have been added to the platform, including a personalized app experience for members and innovative plan design options for groups of any size and budget. There is also an option for dentists to construct and sell their own dental membership plans directly to patients.

How Does Bento Dental Create A Culture of Innovation? 

Bento Dental is upending a multibillion-dollar industry that has seen little innovation since the 1950s. We’re always searching for new methods to improve the relationship between organizations, members, and their dentists. Bento is re-inventing the way we access and pay for oral care, from rapid estimates to direct payments without intermediaries and transparency into cost details.

Tell Us a Success Story. 

Every time a Bento Member saves money on their dental treatment, we have a success story. While we can’t go into depth because of HIPAA, we had a patient who needed a root canal and a crown. This patient easily saved over $1500 thanks to Bento’s pre-negotiated rates. Compared to standard fully insured plans, Bento has helped businesses and groups save money which they have been able to reinvest into their employees and business.

 Another success story involves a major client during COVID, when all dentist offices were required to shut down. This large firm was spending well over $100k per month on dental coverage for its employees before joining Bento in January of that year. When the dental offices closed and their employees couldn’t get in to see a dentist, their Bento costs dropped down to almost nothing. Under a fully insured plan, the company would have continued to pay their $100k monthly. Over the course of a quarter, we saved this firm hundreds of thousands of dollars when you compare it with traditional dental premium expenditures!

What Are You Looking Forward to In Partnering With Breakroom Benefits? 

We’re excited to partner with Breakroom Benefits so we can expand our network and help even more individuals smile by providing access to better dental plans!

Where Do You See Bento Dental in 5 Years? 

Every day, Bento Dental expands rapidly and there are no plans to slow down. We plan to continue our network expansion and to open additional group offerings to all members, employees, and individuals seeking care through Bento. The sky is the limit, and we are excited to see where the road takes us and our customers in the coming years!

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