One silent issue in the dental industry is affordability. Surgical care is so expensive that it has restricted dental visits over the past few years and, in turn, driven down dental incomes by more than 20% since the start of the Great Recession (2008).
Over the Holidays, there were more reports about this affordability problem in dentistry, and how the purchasers and consumers of dental services are responding.
Here are some examples:
- Delta Dental, the biggest insurer in the US, has begun testing hygiene services in medical clinics in Colorado. Why? Because that is where the growth segment of the dental market can be accessed. Medicaid is now paying for a limited number of dental services for low-income adults and children, and these “customers” tend to visit the doctor more often than the dentist. This initiative, if successful, will only further erode visits to the dental practice and encourage the dentist to offer even more expensive procedures and cosmetic treatment.
- British dentists are pushing their government and the National Health Service to accelerate and expand the reforms to the national dental plan. These reforms will emphasize prevention over treatment, but the current activity-based method of paying for dental care (called fee for service) has led to cost containment measures by the NHS. The dentists have cried “uncle” about cost containment and are open to more quality-based compensation.
- Lastly, in Canada, a benefit adviser to corporate Canada has introduced the concept of better dental care at lower cost. Don McGowan calls his program “dental wellness” because it targets more preventive dental care to those who most need it — the high risk adults. in an aging, well-medicated community with epidemics of diabetes and hypertension, there are lots of high risk employees who spend inordinately on dental services in their benefits package. Canadian employers twig to Don McGowan’s concepts of dental care, but it will be interesting to see how the benefit consulting community and claims processors/insurers respond to this approach.
For more information, please visit: http://partnersinprevention.ca/the-silent-issue-of-dental-affordability/.
By: Ross Perry
SOURCED: Partners In Prevention – http://partnersinprevention.ca