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Such a “Sleazy” Company

About Delta Dental

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

pruitt

“A contract provision that holds dentists to Delta’s maximum allowed fee for non-covered services will affect all of Delta’s Premier and Preferred Provider Organization participating dentists throughout the country by January 2011″ (my emphasis).

“Delta Caps Rates Nationally for Two Networks”

I copied the line from an American Dental Association News online article by Arlene Furlong’s article is titled “Delta caps rates nationally for two networks.”

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3218

This means that if a Delta preferred provider wishes to make up for the profit lost from providing Delta customers 25% discounts on dentistry, doing more cosmetic dentistry will no longer help keep the doors open.  Delta is telling its providers that it will demand discounts on everything for its customers. 

Discount Factor Costs

How much does a 25% discount cut into a dentist’s pay?  Overhead in dental practices typically run about 65%.  Do the math.  If the net profit is 35%, and Delta knocks off 25% the dentist’s fee; that means the dentist takes a 70% cut in pay to treat Delta patients.  How happy do you think dentists are to see Delta patients who show up for appointments? You guessed it.  Delta Dental preferred providers are disagreeable already, according to Doctor Oogle (www.doctoroogle.com), a Patient Driven Referral Site [PDRS]. 

The Delta Dental Rankings

To see how Delta Dental preferred providers rank in patient satisfaction against all other dentists, pick a few names off of Delta’s list and see where they fall on DR. Oogle’s ranking.  I recently saw such a study involving Austin, Texas dentists from almost a year ago.  The Delta dentists’ ranks averaged 206 out of 297 Austin dentists listed on the site.  That is the bottom 30%.  One could say the 70% cut in pay buys Delta Dental clients dental work from the most unpopular 30% of dentists; interesting coincidence.

Cogent Thoughts 

Think about this way: In a little more than two years, if a dentist’s practice consists entirely of Delta Dental patients, the doctor cannot raise fees at all.  What makes leaders of Delta think they can get away with tyranny in the land of the free? 

Furlong further writes: “Tom Dolatowski, Delta’s vice president of marketing and communication, estimates that some 75 percent of dentists nationally are participating in the Delta Dental Premier plan, while some 25-30 percent are participating in the Delta Dental PPO plan.”

That’s how; effective sales techniques

Delta Dental is Simply a Sleazy Company. 

This spring, at the Southwest Dental Conference in Dallas, Delta Dental employees encouraged me and other dentists to apply for NPI numbers.  NPI application forms were prominently displayed in Delta’s booth.  The Delta saleswoman who covers the east side of Fort Worth, my neighborhood, said, “You don’t want to wait until the last minute.  May 23rd is the [final] deadline.”  (The deadline had been delayed a few times).

Then she and other Delta employees emphatically agreed that the NPI number will soon become a licensure requirement for all Texas dentists anyway.  That is an unethical and unlawful lie – condoned, if not encouraged by the leaders of Delta Dental to enhance corporate profits using deception.  Everyone knows that the NPI number helps nobody but insurance companies.

Assessment 

There is no question that Delta Dental desperately wants dentists to volunteer for NPI numbers.  When a dentist applies for the number it gives Delta permission to mine the uninformed dentist’s “Freedom of Information Act-disclosable” data from dental claims.  Delta will use its proprietary algorithms to rate the dentist. Then Delta will display the dentist’s value to society on an Internet website. This way Delta can direct its clients to the best neighborhood dentists according to Delta’s preferences – but not necessarily the patients’. 

The fact that Delta’s customers generally don’t like Delta’s dentists means that the last thing Delta wants published is patients’ opinions – like those in DR. Ogle.

Conclusion 

In my opinion, Delta Dental is such a sleazy company. What is your opinion?

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