Many dentists bought into Delta Dental’s promise of a ‘dental only’ dental insurance company rather than dental insurance as an afterthought of a larger behemoth like Aetna, MetLife and the Blues.
Today, with supply and wage eating away at dental office profits, dentists are reevaluating their relationships with insurance. Courses, webinars and podcasts on how to offload insurance abound.
Most other small businesses, faced with the same economic challenges of inflation and employment shortages have the option of raising prices. Not so for dental offices that are limited by restrictive insurance contracts.
The promise of a “filled chair is better than an empty one” can promote a pact with the Devil. As overhead increases, such a strategy can result in a net loss for every such patient.
Many dentists I speak to have offloaded their lower reimbursing plans and kept those with better rates. Many have retained their Delta contracts.
But these better rates can come with a nasty catch.
THE FINE PRINT
Apparently, in some states and contracts, Delta has the option of not renewing a contract when the practice is transferred to another dentist or provider. This seems especially true for the Premier or Loyalty levels.
There have also been instances when reimbursements have been lowered, something facilitated when the CDT codes are changed. Sneaky little gimmick.
Such behaviors are particularly egregious when one considers the profits generated during the Pandemic, when patients stopped going to the dentist, limiting Insurance Company’s liabilities.
ASSET or LIABILITY?
Imagine buying a practice based on a valuation of previous performance and existing contracts only to find out that the reimbursement will substantially change downwards?
Why don’t the organizations charged with protecting dentists and dentistry like the ADA and their State Affiliates or the NAD and AGD not act?
The ADA and some of the State Affiliates have. There are current, active suits against Delta in many states. The ADA’s might not be heard until 2024!
What options does a dentist have? What can one do?
1. Review contracts thoroughly and/or have an attorney well-versed in the subject, explain all the nuances and contingencies involved before signing.
2. Before purchasing a practice do the same.
3. See if there are Class Action Suits in your state and consider joining (this requires meticulous documentation of any grievance).
4. Report any breach of contract to:
b. State Dental Society
c. Better Business Bureau
5. Maintain excellent and constant and consistent communication with your patients.
6. Strategically, and methodically limit your dependence on anyone who is controlling your income.
When dentists are asked what they provide to their patients, most rattle off a list of services, procedures, and treatments. When dental staff are asked the same question, they respond similarly. Such an answer commodifies dentistry, devalues it and makes it all about the ‘insurance coverage’ and money. That’s the answer insurance companies want to hear. They prey on that mindset.
DON’T FALL INTO THAT TRAP!
TRUST and SECURITY are the true products of a relationship with a dental practice. There are no CDT codes for them. But it’s the true VALUE that good dentistry delivers.
People have no idea what dentists do. All they know is that it’s often scary and sometimes involves pain. So, promoting ‘procedures’, regardless of the financial cost, ignores the real service given and the benefit to the patient.
And yet, what does one see when looking at most dental websites? SERVICES!
Want to DECREASE DEPENDENCE? Want to OFFLOAD INSURANCE?
It all starts with building the VALUE of TRUST and SECURITY. That’s done through communication and the best possible patient experience!
Want to learn more about how to do that?