Post your comments about insurance companies to our blog. Read the dental insurance survey press release.
In this poll, we asked dentists:As a dentist, what's your gut
feeling about insurance companies – friend or foe?
My goodness! It's clear that dentists are not fans of insurance companies. Eighty-nine percent of dentists responded, "Foe. Insurance companies are in the business of looking out for themselves, not patients or doctors." A mere 11% replied, "Friend. Dental insurance companies have expanded my practice and serve as an important marketing source for new patients."
Specialists were even more likely to see insurance companies as enemies than general dentists. On the other hand, female dentists were more likely to see the insurance industry as a friend than were male dentists.
Though general dentists were none too fond of insurance companies, specialists were even more passionate in their distaste for the insurance industry. Fully 100% of the specialists who voted in our poll saw insurance companies as enemies.
While most insurance companies will pay for basic preventative care without a fuss, more expensive procedures are less likely to be approved by insurance administrators. The specialized care offered by oral surgeons, periodontists, orthodontists and other specialists may be less likely to be covered by insurance leaving those specialists with more hostility.
Female dentists are significantly more likely to view the insurance industry in a positive light.
As our sample of female dentists was somewhat limited in size, this difference may not be statistically significant. Or it may represent an important difference between male and female health care practitioners. Without additional data, it's impossible to say.
Geographic differences were minimal. Wherever you are, patients will need more dental work than insurance companies want to cover.
For detailed geographic results, just click on this interactive map. (Flash
What Choice Do We Have?
- “My patients demand I accept insurance assignments. At first I refused, but I lost more than half my patients to other practitioners accepting insurance. I finally gave in and re-built a very large practice. I had no apparent viable alternative. Insurance should not be forcing business decisions on my practice.” (Florida orthodontist)
- “Unfortunately, they are a necessary evil!” (Maryland dentist)
Profit Is Their Only Motivation
- “They don’t care if your teeth fall out, just as long as they make a profit.” (New Hampshire dentist)
- “Dental insurance companies could care less about the patient or doctor. It’s all about bringing in more from the premiums than paying out for the services!” (Colorado prosthodontist)
"Insurance companies are in the business of collecting premiums and denying claims. Anything they pay is because they are legally obligated to do so.” (New York prosthodontist)
- “Thieves without masks or guns.” (Utah dentist)
- “Insurance is a business out to turn a profit just like any other business. Unfortunately patients don’t understand this dynamic and often assume dentists are trying to rip them off if they recommend ANY treatment (even preventative!) that insurance doesn’t cover.” (California dentist)
Silver lining: Insurance brings the patients in
- “Patients with dental insurance are much more likely to agree to a treatment plan.” (Georgia dentist)
- “It is really both answers, but in our particular practice, it has helped immensely in practice growth.” (Florida dentist)
- “At this point they are a large source of the income that I receive in my practice so, in that sense, they are a ‘friend,’ but basically they’re in it solely for the money.” (Texas dentist)
- “They are both! Insurance brings people into the office, but the difference between expectations and reality make them foes.” (Illinois dentist)
The Current System Doesn’t Seem To Work Right
- “Over the past 30 years that I have been in the dental field, I have seen the change from being an asset to dentists to being a foe. Insurance companies only are interested in making money, and the stronger they get the harder they are to fight. Insurance companies dictate treatment… There is nothing good about the current system of healthcare insurance." (California, not a dentist)
- “Some are very good at paying their portion without hassle and others look for every reason to not pay… Dentistry needs to wake up and go on strike for better benefits to the patient and easier billings for the dentists.” (Oregon dentist)
- “Insurance companies siphon off money that employers and patients spend for dental care. They can be of no use in
their current configuration.” (Florida periodontist)
We Need Something New
- “I have never been a participant in any insurance program. Only about 45% of my practice is covered by a third party. I believe that it is the third party that has allowed fees to be as high as they are.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
- “In Pennsylvania, insurance has depressed dentistry to keep it from reaching the levels enjoyed in other states.” (Pennsylvania periodontist)
- “No one needs dental insurance. There is no catastrophic loss to ‘insure’ against. Dental ‘insurance’ is nothing but a prepay plan where you get some of your money back in care. The profits the insurance company takes for doing nothing but pushing paper are a loss to the patient and the dentist alike. A better way to provide for future expenses is to use a direct reimbursement model where more dollars end up providing care and not lining the pockets of the do nothing insurance companies.” (Minnesota dentist)
The Doctor-Patient Relationship Should Be Sacred
- “They reduce my fees and compromise my relationship with patients, especially when someone comes in for an emergency.” (California dentist)
- “Insurance companies are an unnatural intrusion into the purest relationship
between two unrelated humans: care giver and receiver.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
- “Insurance companies do everything possible to delay payment and give patients the illusion that the dentist is attempting to take advantage of the patient and the insurance company.” (Michigan dentist)
- “While they have helped many to get needed dentistry, they also make it impossible to keep a decent doctor/patient relationship by constantly downgrading services.” (Illinois dentist)
Insurance Is Bad for Doctors
- “We make them billions and they do nothing for us. They make our life miserable. They could do it right if they wanted to.” (Indiana dentist)
- “The insurance company gets in the way and forces us to ‘explain ourselves’ when they don’t cover the treatment we know is best for the patient.” (Minnesota dentist)
- “They feel we are trying to rip them off. I file exactly what I do: no more, no less.” (Georgia dentist)
Insurance Is Bad for Patients
- “Insurance companies do their clients a disservice by paying for only the cheap stuff and telling patients that dentist fees are above usual and customary…usual and customary for whom?!!!” (Illinois dentist)
- “Insurance companies should pay out up to their maximum they promise without any limitations… that would be the ethical thing to do!” (Illinois dentist)
- “If they would only let the patients know that this is their ‘allowance’ and sometimes necessary things are not covered.” (Pennsylvania dental hygienist)
Insurance Is Bad for Dental Practices
- “Insurance companies actually seem to cost a practice money. The hours staff must spend on the phone with them is ridiculous. They seem to go out of their way to avoid paying claims, and they make it so difficult to follow up with them that I think they just hope eventually you give up.” (Pennsylvania practice administrator)
- “It now averages FIVE HOURS of my time per week at the typewriter.” (Texas dentist)
- “They do not have timely payments. They don’t always authorize what is needed. And sometimes they short pay $1 or $2. I would not have my insurance biller waste time and a stamp for just $1, but to an insurance company with 3 million members it’s $3 million more in their pockets.” (California dentist)
No Kind Words for Delta Dental
- “Delta Dental, in particular, interferes with falsehoods, discredits us, sell their contracts without us knowing, and on and on.” (Minnesota dentist)
- “The ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing is Delta.” (Missouri prosthodontist)
- “Insurance companies are interested in two things: collecting as many premiums as possible and paying out as little as possible. Some companies (like Delta) are interested in being regulators of the industry.” (Colorado dentist)