Dental insurance has clearly been the “tail that wags the dog” in most practices, and that of course, is nothing new. Dentists since the 1970’s have long tolerated the dysfunctional relationships with insurance carriers rs, relationships which more closely resemble divorce court negiations than healthy collaborations for the benefit of patients (and by that I mean the prove-your-innocent-of-over-treatment process dentists must go through to seek rapidly diminishing third party payments).
But we may be reaching an even lower tipping point soon; we may soon see the proverbial tail wagging the relationship between dentists and insurance companies in an even worse direction.
To wit, some of you noticed that CVS recently shared its intention to PURCHASE Aetna. This represents a new type of vertical integration in the health care industry- a move likely to involve the-infolding of medical practices into the CVS corporation as well.
Not to be outdone, UnitedHealth Group, America’s largest health insurer announced yesterday that it plans to buy DaVita Medical Group and its nearly 300 doctor’s clinics across the country for $4.9 billion dollars.
More close to home, in late 2016, Delta Dental of Massachusetts sent dental providers new contracts and notified them that Delta would be transitioning all business to a for-profit corporation DSM Massachusetts Insurance Company, Inc.. This followed its intention to convert most of its policies over to PPO plans because the company’s growth was too stagnant to support its overhead even as a non-profit (one needs only to look at executive compensation levels to see where much of the overhead problems lie).
It does not take much of an imagination to see the direction toward which dentistry is turning. It is mostly shaping up to be a war between massive corporations for profits, with patients and providers as the vehicles through which those profits will be realized.
Consequently, it is indeed time to re-assess relationships with insurance carriers, as they neither have our long-term best interest in mind nor do they they guide our practices in a direction which is healthy for those associated with them.
Relationship-based / Health-centered dentistry which functions outside the negative influence of dental insurance is an alternative direction for your future. If it is your true desire to remain a professional -keeping the best interests of your patients ahead of profits -then the dog should be wagging the tail, and not the other way around.
Paul A Henny, DDS
Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017
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