On Dental Economics and Truth in Advertising

About Dentistry iQ

D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

I just read a misleading press release on Dental Economics subsidiary Dentistry iQ that is presented as a credible article titled “Guardian Recognized as One of the Nation’s Leading Dental Carriers by Benefits Selling Magazine Readers” (no byline).

http://www.dentistryiq.com/index/display/news-display/1307102704.html

“NEW YORK, Nov. 19, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, today announced that it has been recognized by the readers of Benefits Selling magazine as one of the nation’s leading dental insurance carriers for the second consecutive year…”

My Research 

I did some quick research on Guardian’s discount dentistry plans and I have some questions for Dental Economics Vice President Lyle Hoyt – the official who approved the advertisement deal (as far as anyone can tell). First of all, how come at least 19 out of the 25 Austin, Texas dentists listed in their DentalGuard Preferred Provider list work for “clinics”? 12 of them work for Castle Dental.

http://www.geoaccess.com/guardian/po56/DisplayResults.asp

It took me 3 minutes to come up with this information. I ask you, Lyle, did you do any fact checking before you took Guardian’s money? I also glanced at Guardian’s PPO lists from other cities with the same result – If one purchases DentalGuard, one should be prepared for McDentist.

My Bias 

But maybe I judge Castle Dental too harshly. After all, I am admittedly biased. To me, a name on the door of a business connotes accountability backed up by transparency and a suggestion of permanence. Guardian officials should know that their clients don’t like to change dentists, so why are so many of them sent to Castle – 12 months per contract period? And how good of a job is Castle doing? So, I checked the Austin Better Business Bureau to see if Castle Dental has a history with them. Indeed they do! Of the 5 encounters Castle Dental has had with the Austin BBB, they were awarded grades of 3 Bs and 2 Fs.

http://austin.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews/

If Castle Dental’s dentists had college grades like that, they would have never made it to dental school. Although, if they lived in New Mexico, I hear one can do discount dentistry as a dental therapists with little more than a high school education … sorry. I digress.

The Advertisement 

The ad for Guardian’s discount dentistry continues: “Benefit Selling’s readership of 55,000 benefits brokers voted Guardian as one of the top dental carriers in the 2010 Readers’ Choice Awards, which were announced in the magazine’s November issue. With more than 70,000 dentists, Guardian boasts one of the largest dental networks in the country and was cited by one participant as ‘the most innovative carrier for dental and a great partner for all ancillary products from life to DI and vision.’”

So Guardian is both “Innovative” and “a great partner” in dentistry? Really-Lyle? Those who stand to profit from dental therapists in New Mexico say the same things – based on an experiment in Alaska that involved 5 therapists and 300 patients … Sorry. There I go again.

My Business Policy Interpretation  

Please allow me to share my interpretation of Dental Economics business policy: If it’s a paid ad with no byline and no opportunity for troublemakers to comment – thus protecting Dental Economics VP Lyle Hoyt – nobody spends any effort checking for misleading and harmful information their bosses promote. After all, even if someone were to demand personal accountability from an online publisher like Dental Economics, what harm could they possibly do to such a well-established news outlet’s credibility? Let’s just see.

Assessment 

I know Dental Economics has to make money somehow, but you should show more respect to dentists and more compassion for dental patients, Lyle Hoyt.

Conclusion

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One Response

  1. More on Dental Insurance

    If you have dental insurance through work, you’re golden.

    Otherwise, a plan can run $50 a month or more for benefits that top out at as little as $1,000 a year. Don’t buy it thinking you’ll collect thousands of dollars’ worth of implants or other complex treatments. Your policy might just pay 50 percent for oral surgery and restorative care. It may not cover cosmetic dentistry at all.

    The problem is the yearly cap on payouts. Dental plans haven’t raised these maximum payouts over the years, even though the premiums keep growing.

    Affordable Care Act dental coverage

    The Affordable Care Act requires some health plans to include affordable dental care for children, says Boston.com. Some states allow insurers to offer family dental plans too. Healthcare.gov describes the ACA dental options.

    Alternatives

    Discount dental plans. These plans charge “an enrollment fee of about $80 to $120 each year to get discounts ranging from 10 percent to 60 percent on all of your dental visits and procedures.”

    Charitable clinics. Free or low-cost care is offered at community events for the uninsured where local dentists volunteer their time. Check Dentistry From the Heart, America’s Dentists Care Foundation or find your state’s dental association online.

    Dental schools. Many dental schools give free or reduced-cost care. Accredited programs are listed at the American Dental Association website.

    Preventative care. Dental disease can be largely prevented by brushing and flossing correctly and taking other measures.

    Federally qualified health centers. These private clinics receive some government funding. Find clinics in cities and rural areas across the country on the federal Health Resources and Services Administration website.

    Medical travel. Some Americans travel long distances for dental care abroad, particularly in Mexico. They can often find care that’s comparable in quality but considerably cheaper than at home.

    But private dental insurance … forgetaboutit!

    Gus

    Like

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