Dentistry’s Co-dependent Relationship with Insurance

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Dentistry’s Co-dependent Relationship with Insurance

Posted on

Some great questions were recently posed by Kevin Daugherty DDS in relation to my “The Tail that Wags the Dog” commentary here on

Q: Is it my imagination or does organized dentistry promote the dental insurance industry? Why is that? What happens to dental insurance if all dentists stop accepting assignment of benefits? Do they not lose control over dentists profit margins?

A: Dentistry as a whole has been in a co-dependent relationship with the dental insurance industry almost since day one. And the same can now be said for some dental schools and educational programs as well.

What at first appeared to be a win-win-win has -in my view- turned into a win-lose-lose, with the final “lose” disguised as a “win” due to the use of intentionally deceitful language, clever marketing, and shady review practices.

The primary carrier in the country- run by dentists- was supposed to be a non-profit collaboration created solely for the benefit of patients. Now, it has clearly evolved into a government-like organization that has self-preservation and self-reward as its primary purpose, although it is still shrouded in patient-centered language which deceives most of the public.

This has all created a largely false economy in dentistry, where the primary source of income is streaming from third parties. So the game evolved into: How do we get more out of the third parties? And of course, the third parties responded with counter-tactics.

So yes, we are locked into a relationship like a sober wife married to an alcoholic husband who buys them booze to keep them happy and off our back while rationalizing it all as being normal because everyone around us is doing it as well.

We dentists hold the key to our own freedom. But it requires learning how to function in the marketplace without crutches – without addictions…learning how to connect with our patients more deeply and significantly, so that their insurance plan coverage largely becomes irrelevant…and learning how to professionally promote ourselves so that people who are in alignment with our Purpose know about us and move toward us – in spite of all the dysfunction in the marketplace.

That is what I am trying to point out here. The path to freedom is never easily fought, but freedom is the only pathway to having a truly patient-centered practice and for many, a deeply fulfilling career.

Paul Henny DDS

Home Testimonial

“Thanks so much for your continuing efforts to promote and advance the concept of the relationship based practice.” – Jim Otten

Great Forum

What a great forum for sharing the wisdom we have been privileged to gain from those who came before us. Hearing that wisdom expressed in the language of today is so important. ~ Mary Osborne

Get Involved with the
Bob Barkley Study Club Now!

1213 Corporate Circle SW, Roanoke, VA 24018
(540) 774-1577 |

Contact Us