April 12, 2017
Call me the eternal optimist, but I have always felt that a dental practice providing great clinical treatment supported by exquisite consistent customer service could do well in any town in America. Recently I am seeing and hearing a lot of angst and anger from my clients that is making me question whether my optimism can still be justified. This unease has been building gradually over the last five years for four major reasons.
• Doctors are coming to grips with and reacting to the competition from the expansion of corporate dentistry into their neighborhoods. Private equity firms are making significantly large investments in corporate dentistry companies providing them the capital for the aggressive acquisition of successful private practices.
• Dental insurance carriers are denying more and more necessary treatment and requiring doctors to jump through hoops to get paid. It is becoming an exhausting fight.
• Many insurance carriers will no longer allow their in-network providers to balance bill patients up to the published office fee for procedures once that patient has exceeded their annual maximum benefit.
• Insurance fees are definitely going in the wrong direction. Delta Dental – the largest dental insurance company by far- is eliminating in many states their Premier fee schedules and requiring in-network providers to accept insultingly low fees that are often 30-40% less than usual and customary fees. PPO dominance is becoming the norm.
I sense we are fast approaching a tipping point. It is getting closer to decision time. In this current environment, only the courageous and the smart and the truly committed dentists will be able to continue to practice comprehensive, high-tech quality dentistry while earning a paycheck commensurate with their talent and experience, years of schooling, investment in technology and on-going continuing education.
Can you do this while accepting PPO fees? I don’t think so. Can you do this understanding and complying with the restraints of remaining an in-network provider? In my opinion, only with great difficulty. Thus I think you will need to take the steps to create the impression in the minds of your patients that you and your staff are worth the additional costs to continue to stay with your practice and receive the quality treatment they deserve. That is the challenge, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss my ideas on how to make this happen.
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