News From The Wealthy Dentist #28: January 17, 2007
by Jim Du Molin
Delta Dental Stabs Iraq War Vet in Back!
Ten years ago, Dr. Jeffrey Moyer enlisted in the Missouri Army National Guard. This past September, he was called to active duty and deployed to Iraq. He spent several months stationed 50 miles north of Baghdad at Camp Anaconda, never leaving the camp’s 10-block area. Dr. Moyer spent most of his time serving as a dentist to American and coalition forces, although he also performed oral surgeries on insurgents.
Meanwhile, as Dr. Moyer was serving his country, Delta Dental decided to play games with his practice and his family’s security. While Dr. Moyer was away, his wife (and operations manager) Jane worked hard to keep their dental practice
going and meet the needs of their patients. The couple sent letters to dentists they knew asking if they might occasionally be available to fill in for Dr. Moyer. They were overwhelmed by the response. Nine doctors stepped up to the plate, providing emergency on-call service as well as seeing 1,100 of Dr. Moyer’s patients while he was stationed in Iraq.
And so Dr. Moyer returned from Iraq to a practice just as vibrant as he left it. His patients were happy and his community supportive. His dental colleagues were happy to help him out in any way possible. The Internet Dental Alliance also donated its services during Dr. Moyer’s absence.
Crisis averted, right?
Well, not quite. Although his practice paid the assisting dentists for their work, they are having a hard time recouping that money from Delta Dental. Apparently Delta Dental has been unwilling to pay Dr. Moyer’s practice for appointments covered by other dentists unless those dentists also sign up with Delta Dental.
Instead Delta sent reimbursement checks directly to the patients and not the practice. Did they think this one through? The doctor was overseas defending our country’s policies; regardless of how you feel about the war, it’s clear that Dr. Moyer is living according to his personal standards of integrity. In the meantime, his practice needed to pay the temporary associates who filled in during his absence. After paying the practice’s fixed expenses for rent,
supplies and team, this doesn’t leave a lot for his family to live on.
Delta is playing “stick it to the doctor” by sending the payment checks directing to the patients. The patients, of course, immediately cash the checks and buy new flat-screen TVs. This leaves the doctor’s family scrambling to explain Delta’s insurance rules to patients, rebilling and trying to collect the money. His practice has not yet resolved this issue.
What are your feelings about Delta Dental – friend, enemy, or a necessary evil?
Read more about Dr. Moyer’s story.
Jim Du Molin
Who Would Have Guessed? Better Periodontal Treatment Coverage!
by Valerie Williams, RDH
Perhaps you have spent the past few years determined to avoid dental journals, consumer magazines and newscasts. That may be the only way you could have missed the body of research supporting the connection between periodontal disease and significant systemic diseases. Even insurance companies, notorious for watching their bottom lines, have been conducting their own studies. Several have found that it is to their advantage to allow many of their patients more periodontal benefits with low or no deductibles. As insurance companies such as Aetna and Cigna catch on to this new trend in medical/dental integration programs, you can be sure others will follow.
Of specific concern are patients with diabetes, coronary heart disease, a history of stroke, or who are pregnant. If these patients have their periodontal disease treated early, their systemic diseases are more easily managed and they
have fewer complications. This discovery benefits everyone: patients, dental practices, and even insurance companies.
What does this mean for your dental practice? Your practice must have the systems in place to consistently monitor patients. You also need to understand early intervention, and you and your staff should strive to raise your patients’
dental IQs through clear verbal communication and patient education pieces. In addition, you ought to be specific and clear in the documentation of patients’ charts. It is imperative that you first identify the patient’s disease level,
then inform them of their treatment options, risks and any alternatives. This is essential in protecting yourself from lawsuits. Finally, you will want to understand the nuances of insurance submission, as submitting medical insurance
claims for patients could become standard practice for dental offices.
The bottom line is, early detection and intervention of periodontal disease can save your patients’ lives. Make sure you are prepared! To find out how your practice rates in treating periodontal disease, contact me at 800.400.6772 for a
free hygiene analysis from Advanced Hygiene Concepts.
$4,300 Is Not Enough To Buy Model of Elvis Presley’s Teeth
A model of Elvis Presley’s teeth and a spare porcelain crown were recently put
up for auction on eBay. The items were being sold by the family of Dr. Henry
Weiss, the King’s Memphis-based dentist until 1971. When bidding for the items
closed on January 14, the top bid was $4,300 – not enough to meet the family’s
reserve price. So, if you just had to have them, there’s still hope!
Presley had a crown on his front tooth that was particularly prone to breaking,
so Dr. Weiss always kept a spare handy. In 1971, when Elvis was performing in
Las Vegas, he chipped his crown on a microphone. Dr. Weiss’s son hopped on the
next plane to Vegas with the spare crown in hand.
The model of the King’s teeth is encased in a custom glass display. The set also
includes various letters of authentication and notarized documents, all proving the legitimacy of this one-of-a-kind rock and roll collectible.
Drum Roll Please! Results from The Wealthy Dentist’s Survey
Thanks to all of you who responded to our very first 30-Second Survey. We asked, “Would dental health care in the U.S. be better served by a national single-payer system?”
And the results are clear! Four out of five dentists surveyed said that the U.S. is not ready for universal healthcare.
79% responded, “No, there’s no good model to follow yet!”
Only 21% replied, “Yes, all Americans deserve universal healthcare!”
See the complete results for breakdowns by specialty, state, location and
Schwarzenegger Vetoes California Dental Hygiene Board
Although it was passed by the state senate and assembly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a recent bill to establish a Dental Hygiene Board. The bill would have allowed dental hygienists to regulate their profession, but
the California Dental Association asked the governor to veto the bill on the grounds that it was unnecessary.
The veto has left many dental hygienists feeling that theirs is a profession in decline, with hygienists earning less money and less respect. Some blame the trend on greedy dentists so eager to see themselves in a category with surgeons and lawyers that they choose less experienced support staff to keep more income for themselves. Others feel the problem is one of seeing dental hygiene as merely a job and not truly a profession.
In contrast, Canada is steadily expanding the independence of dental hygienists. Do we in the U.S. value our hygienists enough?