Dentists Ready to Organize Against Insurance

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Dental Survey Results When we asked dentists if they would like to see their colleagues organize against dental insurance companies, the answer was a resounding "Yes!" from fully 94% of respondents.

Complaints about insurance are near-universal, especially given that most payouts haven't risen in decades. "Insurance benefits no one but the insurance company," wrote one dentist. "Their mantra is ‘Ignore, Compartmentalize, and Deny!’" wrote another.

For more insight, check out these

Some dentists don't want to get involved

  • "Best to leave the organizing to the ADA. This battle has been going on for years; local organizing tends to be a bad PR move.” (Washington endodontist)
  • “I don't feel any need to fight with insurance companies. I prefer to tell patients what options they have for treatment and let them decide what is most appropriate for them. The financial battle is between the patient and the insurance company if the patient chooses to take up that battle.
    It’s not my battle.” (Oregon dentist)

It's really about the companies that purchase insurance for their employees

  • “The contract is between the employer and the insurance company. I doubt that dentists have standing.” (New York dentist)
  • “The problem has never been the insurance companies. It is with the corporate purchasers of dental insurance.” (General dentist)

When will they raise the maximum above $1000?

  • "$1000 has been the maximum for 20 years. That's not right.” (General dentist)
  • “While fees for service continue to increase, the benefit allowance has stayed the same since the 1970s. We dentists come out looking like the bad guys… go figure.” (California dentist)
  • "When I entered private practice in 1970, Chevron was the first to offer dental benefits, with a maximum payout of $1000. Now twenty-eight years later, the norm for maximum payouts is still $1000. The premiums for dental coverage have continued to go up, but not the maximum benefit payout. There is something badly wrong with this discrepancy.” (Mississippi dentist)
  • “Insurance companies have not kept up with inflation in their benefit packages for patients.” (Iowa dentist)
  • "In my 40 years as hygienist and dentist, I have seen the annual allowance stay the same ($1000-1200) with no increase in benefits and more paperwork and restrictions—totally absurd! Just give the employee the money and let them purchase whatever care they need; DR is the way to go.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “If we all (dentists) combined our veto power, insurance companies would have to respond by raising the annual benefit. The customary benefit of $1,000.00 is laughable. That worked in 1960, but not in 2008.” (Massachusetts dentist)

Dental insurance is not insurance

  • "Dental insurance is like a rebate and not a benefit for patients.” (Florida dentist)
  • “It's a benefit, not insurance. If dental insurance had to be true insurance, it would skyrocket the price or devastate our fees.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “Dental insurance is a myth. It is more like a 'gift card' with many exclusions.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • "Dental Insurance is a misleading concept for patients. I advise patients not to obtain dental insurance if they will practice preventive dentistry; most times they will be in control of their destiny and ahead of the game financially.” (Florida dentist)

Patients don't understand dental insurance very well

  • "We need to educate our patients that Dental and Medical Insurances are totally different animals. Patients have become so accustomed to the Medical Insurance model that they expect low co-pays and no out-of-pocket expenses. This is not a realistic attitude, but dentists let this happen by signing on to PPO's and such." (Georgia dentist)
  • “Dental insurance drives a wedge between dentist and patient whenever it can.” (Wisconsin dentist)
  • "All too often, it is the dentist and team that give the patient the bad news about lack of coverage. The dental office is made
    out to be the bad guy
    instead of the insurance carrier. I'd like to see an effort made by organized dentistry (perhaps an oxymoron) to educate the public about coverages and some of the common exclusions.” (Colorado dentist)
  • “If patients really analyze the costs of dental insurance they would see that in most cases it is better to self-insure.” (Texas dentist)
  • “The dental community as a whole, dentists, hygienists, assistants, clerical, etc. need to join together to educate the public. Through such education, our patients can get the knowledge they need to demand that their insurance companies make changes to bring dental benefits into the 21st century.” (Michigan Dental Office Worker)

It's time for dentists to stand up

  • Dentists need to stop being so afraid! Imagine if we all declared that we are not taking this abuse anymore and stopped taking Delta, etc.” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “I think dentists across the country should drop being a preferred dentist for all insurances. Then we'd see a change in the chokehold insurance companies have on the health industry.” (Georgia dental office worker)
  • It is our own fault. If offices did not accept discounted plans, then they would not exist.” (General dentist)
  • “I accuse my physician colleagues of selling their souls to the insurance devil. So many have done so that it is suicide for
    others to refuse HMO's PPO's, etc. Dentists have done a much better job of avoiding this – at least until recently." (Georgia dentist)
  • “The only reason they hold the power is because doctors won't organize together.” (Minnesota dentist)

Insurance should not dictate treatment

  • “They seem to want to talk the patients out of the best treatment and only provide them with 'cost effective' treatments that in the long term become more costly.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “We are never going to give patients the correct treatment plans as long as we are being guided by what they pay us.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Horrible… You can't do dentistry without insurance companies regulating patients acceptance and treatment.” (Iowa dentist)

The ADA is not helping

  • “The ADA does not fight for us, and that is why I do not belong to the organization. I would have chosen another profession had I known the dental insurances were going to dictate so much of my profession.” (California dentist)
  • “Organized Dentistry has really let the insurance companies get away with not providing adequate insurance coverage for patients. The differences between benefits for medical insurance and dental is laughable.” (Utah dentist)
  • “Insurance companies are getting away with murder! I feel the ADA should be negotiating with the insurance as a collective bargaining agent for doctors.” (Massachusetts dentist)

How insurance can be offensive to dentists

  • "They are aggressively targeting patients to pressure them into going to the insurance company's incompetent providers. Insurance companies have actually called my patients telling them to go elsewhere!” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Most companies mislead patients and make the dentist look like the villain!” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Some of the insurances (e.g., DMO plans) are an insult to the profession.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Some insurance companies are fine, but others blatantly withhold payments and deny claims that should be covered.” (California dentist)
  • They are our employers… I did not go to school to be an employee!” (Rhode Island dentist)

No love for dental insurance

  • “I don't want to use profanity……” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “It is the worst thing to happen to dentistry!” (Florida dentist)
  • “It sucks!” (New Jersey dentist)
  • Bulls**t. Sorry for the term. 'Necessary evil' is more appropriate.” (Canada dentist)

Insurance only benefits insurance companies

  • “It's a nightmare that profits only insurance CEOs.” (New York dentist)
  • “Thieves of the trade! They do not care for patients, only their bottom line. I wish we could get rid of them all together.” (Florida dentist)
  • “They have the insurance company as the first priority, not the treating doctor or the patients.” (Tennessee dentist)
  • "They are a profit-generating entity that does not put the interest of the patient above profits.” (Maryland dentist)
  • “The insurance companies are milking the dentists, the consumers, and the employers.” (Florida dentist)
  • “I am shocked that they are allowed to set fees based on zip codes. It’s amazing what they are allowed to get away with.” (New Jersey dentist)


Note: Survey sample included 171 respondents.

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