Dental Managed Care is Substandard Care

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Dental Managed Care [DMC] is Substandard Care – count on it!

1-darrellpruittBy D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

Have you noticed most employer-sponsored dental plans boast savings of 30% and more on dental care, without mentioning how unsustainable discounts harms their employees?

Dental Managed Care [DMC] is substandard care: Discount dentistry, like virtually all underfunded handwork, has always been substandard … Or perhaps someone would like to argue that intricate surgery in sensitive mouths of nervous patients is improved when rushed.

Discounts are popular

Those who market obscure, hard to understand managed care plans to clueless, perhaps non-caring employers, do not control the quality of the discounted dentistry they sell.

Think about it: Discount dentistry without quality control. Can you think of a worse idea in healthcare?

What’s more, not one Delta Dental, Humana or Cigna executive can be held accountable for causing harm to equally clueless dental patients through underfinanced dentistry they sell. Employees who must choose their dentists from preferred provider lists have forfeited freedom of choice, whether they realize it or not. Their underfunded, substandard dentistry is subsidized by tax payers as a special tax-free benefit, benefiting unaccountable third parties most of all.

For example:

  • Want to know what you get with managed care dentistry? Quick prophys. 
  • How many of you get your teeth cleaned in 30 minutes or less? Do they feel clean?

One Hour

l always allowed my hygienists 1 hour to clean patients’ teeth simply because it often takes that long to do the job right – regardless what insurers say hygienists’ time is worth. The economic climate is tough on fee-for-service.

As I am considering signing on as a preferred provider – not because I want to – I notice that the fees allowed by insurers do not cover the hourly rate of most hygienists… unless they can “clean” teeth, take x-rays, take blood pressure, go over patients’ medical history, allow time for the doctor to do a quick exam and turn around the room in less than 30 minutes.

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retro dental exam room

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Assessment 

The motto of my practice is “Dentistry Unhurried.” I don’t want to compete in a race to the bottom which uninformed dental patients always lose.

Conclusion

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The “Selling-Out” of a Profession [Dentistry]?

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Dentistry …?

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

1-darrellpruittSeveral years ago, a president-elect of the American Dental Association proclaimed, “The electronic health record may not be the result of changes of our choice. They are going to be mandated. No one is going to ask, ‘Do you want to do this?’ No, it’s going to be, ‘You have to do this.’” (ADA News, October 2008).

Looking back, it is easy to recognize the ADA’s renegade capitulation to HHS as a warning sign of things to come.

The ADA is the same national healthcare institution whose leaders joined Delta Dental in persuading dentists to volunteer for HIPAA’s NPI numbers – never revealing what they are to be used for. It’s the same not-for-profit Chicago corporation which continues to protect non-dues revenue by misleading the nation about the “savings and convenience” of EHRs in dentistry. Among all healthcare organizations, the ADA is alone in their enthusiasm for EHRs and Meaningful Use requirements.

And to top it off, the ADA leadership has progressively become less accessible by the community it serves – NEVER entering into open discussions of urgent dental issues on the internet, even to the extent of ending its commitment to answering dental questions for visitors to Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com. It’s only dentistry for crying out loud!

As a matter of fact, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, the new ADA President, recently suggested in an interview with the ADA’s Judy Jakush that telephone conversations are “The best kept secret of the ADA which members don’t understand.” What?

Dr. Feinberg: “The best-kept secret is that if you have a problem or complaint, you will likely walk away with a positive experience. And, on the rare occasion that the staff can’t help you, there is a good chance that you will speak to Dr. Kathy O’Loughlin, the executive director. That’s amazing customer service.”

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Insightful or clueless dentist?

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What’s not to understand? I understand that ADA membership numbers have taken a hit over the last few years, but nevertheless, the dues of a little over 150,000 dentists still help pay the salaries of ADA employees. That’s a lot of phone calls that will have to be transferred to the right person (the first time), scheduled to call back later or be completely ignored. Isn’t email, or even the US Mail a better idea? Or is lousy communication (unaccountability) with dentists and patients the goal?

About that NPI number

How do you feel about the ADA leading the effort to assess and report your value to your community without ever stepping into your office or talking with a satisfied patient? When you volunteered for your National Provider Identifier at the insistence of the ADA and Delta Dental, you agreed to CMS terms. What? Nobody mentioned that?:

“Spread the mission of the DQA – The DQA, formed in 2008 through a request from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is comprised of multiple stakeholders from across the oral health community who are committed to development of consensus-based quality measures.” By Kelly Soderlund for the ADA News, November 3, 2014.

Does “multiple stakeholders” sound as costly to you as it does to me, Doc? I say we already have too many stakeholders. What about the principals (dentists and their patients) who pay the stakeholders’ bills?

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eHRs

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Does anyone disagree that DQA looks like the ADA’s desperate mission creep for cash? With the chronic drop in membership, the Chicago corporation has turned to vigorous pursuit of non-dues revenue – probably in the form of federal grants and stimulus money from HHS. The ADA (which prefers clumsy communication via telephone), is asking state and local dental leaders to put their own personal credibility at risk by persuading uninformed dentists to unquestioningly accept multiple stakeholders’ assessment of their value to society – just like clueless dentists cooperated in the NPI effort.

Dr. David Schirmer, chair of the DQA’s education committee, tells ADA News: “Eventually, all of dentistry will need to understand quality measures. But before we reach our grass roots membership, we need our leaders in dentistry to understand.” He adds, “I’m challenging those leaders to pave the way for their younger colleagues and help them understand the long-term impact this will have on dentistry.”

ADA Editor Soderlund: “The DQA has taken the lead on developing quality measures within oral health care. These measures touch every practicing dentist in the United States, and with dentistry, how it’s modeled and how it’s financed changes in the future — specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act — they’ll become even more prevalent. The mission of the DQA is to advance performance measurement as a means to improve oral health, patient care and safety through a consensus-building process.”

“— specifically as a result of the Affordable Care Act —“ Since you never respond, ADA, how do we know you haven’t sold us out once again for taxpayers’ money?

Assessment

If it’s difficult for the ADA to hold onto membership now, just wait until the nation’s dentists figure out that Obamacare cannot give everyone A’s on their internet report cards. This means the majority of dentists are going to be pissed at the ADA for their bad grades, no matter what.

Conclusion

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Dental Insurance Doesn’t Exist [video]

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Don’t be Fooled?

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

1-darrellpruittDowney, California dentist John McCallister DDS has produced a splendid video which blows apart myths which keep dental “insurance” companies in business.

The more appropriately called, “discount dentistry brokers” – who casually hide dentists’ concerns – simply cannot survive transparency.

The Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPo4XsYhHPk&feature=youtu.be

Quality?

Let’s face it. Purchasing rushed dental work which Delta Dental discounts more than 30% – or even faster dentistry that is discounted up to 65% by Brighter.com – will always be a foolish investment in one’s health simply because managed care dentistry has NO QUALITY CONTROL.

What’s more, neither Steve Olson, CEO of Delta, nor Brighter.com CEO Jake Winebaum can ever be held accountable for the shoddy work they sell.

Share the Cartoon

The Hippocratic thing to do, Doc, is to share Dr. McCallister’s cartoon with everyone.

As for me, I especially look forward to publicly taunting Delta Dental Insurance Company through @DeltaDentalins on Twitter, as well as CEO Jake Winebaum via @Brighter.com.

Jake blocked me from following @Brighter.com years ago after I asked him about Brighter.com’s quality control measures (There are none. Isn’t that right, Jake?)

Assessment

I pick on Delta Dental and Brighter.com not just because they are unresponsive to dentists’ concerns, but Steve Olsen and Jake Winebaum run the two most harmful examples of sleazy discount dentistry businesses.

Conclusion

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How I Lost my Battle Against the NPI

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Refusing a National Provider Identifier Number

By Darrell K. Pruitt DDS

pruittI can no longer refuse to apply for a National Provider Identifier (NPI). I lost that long battle. Anyone rejoicing?

I’m spent. My leverage has vanished. Telling insurers “I have no NPI” held much more inherent power than “I have an NPI but I won’t share it with you on principle.” Far too many words. My profession has become dominated by unresponsive, unaccountable 3rd parties that dental leaders in the ADA welcome as policy. Working together, they promote and commandeer the technology dentists purchase and clueless patients pay for in increased fees. I have painfully learned that principles are only for dentists who can still afford them, and it’s a bad economy for luxuries.

Non-HIPAA Entity

Since I am not a HIPAA-covered entity and therefore not required by law to adopt an NPI, my capitulation to extortion disappoints me as an American citizen. I still find it hard to believe that an anti-consumer HIPAA rule enthusiastically enforced by the dental benefits industry could force me to “volunteer” for a PERMANENT identifier. As I and 96% of dentists become jerked around by our NPIs, I hope dental historians note that I am the ONLY dentist who publicly asked “Why?” instead of “Why not?” After 6 years, I’m still awaiting an answer to that question from leaders who continue to promote the NPI to dentists while ignoring their questions.

Dental Benefits Providers

I was able to hold out up until Aetna, Delta Dental and other dental benefits providers deprived my office of access to details of patients’ dental benefits unless I have an NPI. I’m waiting for someone – anyone – to tell me how the identifier can possibly improve the dental care of those who pay Aetna and Delta Dental premiums, especially if their benefits are intentionally kept secret from their dentists. I am certain that if the nation’s employers who purchase dental benefits were aware of the transparent nonsense, they would never purchase such products. Where’s the US Chamber of Commerce? Where’s the FTC? How about the US Constitution?

This is exactly why there needs to be more openness in our profession, Doc. The cockroaches who were invited to quietly overrun dentistry cannot withstand transparency, yet I don’t know how much longer I can fight for it without further risking the health of my practice.

As anyone can understand – and as anticipated by corporate executives in the insurance industry as well as by those with vested interests in the ADA Department of Dental Informatics – to have to explain to new patients why I cannot estimate how much they will owe for treatment would destroy my practice. Outside the US, other societies deem it unethical to deny patients informed consent to treatment for any reason. The NPI is such an egregious blunder that I never expect those who promoted to accept ownership.

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NPI

Assessment

If I lost the battle, who won? Do EDR enthusiasts in the ADA call this a glorious victory and a likely source of ADA pride for decades to come? Or is it much more shameful? Since I lost freedom, I want to know who won?

Conclusion

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On the Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act

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ADA Makes Progress Against McCarran-Ferguson

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

The ADA makes real progress against McCarran-Ferguson. I’ve watched the American Dental Association fight long and hard against the unfair McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945. ADA leaders and I still don’t agree on the need for transparency in the professional organization instead of proud unresponsiveness, but nevertheless, I’ve always been publicly supportive of their efforts to repeal the M-F Act.

Insurance Industry

The insurance industry is powerful in Washington. Over the short term, common sense has proven to be far less influential than their generous campaign contributions – making this a long haul for ADA officials. Yet the amendment to H.R. 5, Protecting Access to Healthcare (PATH) Act, which was offered by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), a dentist, is finally scheduled to come up for a vote on Thursday, March 22, 2012

Good Work – ADA

http://www.ada.org/news/6926.aspx

If passed, the legislation will restore the application of antitrust laws to the business of health insurance. Makes sense, right? After all, if every other business in the nation, including professional organizations, can be prosecuted by the FTC for collusion, why should Delta Dental, BCBSTX and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) be exempt from antitrust laws which protect their clients.

I and others are hopeful that this will end many of dental insurers’ current business practices which unfairly force dentists to accept take it or leave it terms that would be unacceptable in a fair market. Maybe the repeal will also make insurance lawyers think twice before alerting the FTC when ADA News speaks honestly about the harm caused by suspiciously similar policies of numerous NADP members.

Assessment

Even if the M-F is repealed, here is an example of truth in dental care that I bet ADA leaders still won’t be able to share with Americans: Unfair downward pressure on contracted dentists’ payments always hurts clueless dental patients the most. Delta Dental’s greed will never be satisfied and dentists’ ethics aren’t free.

NADP, meet the FTC.

Conclusion

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Bitching about Dental Insurance

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Both Hippocratic and Patriotic

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

For the benefit of our trusting patients, let’s start openly discussing the unethical practices of dental insurance companies’ right here. Marketplace conversation about deceit in healthcare is not only the Hippocratic thing to do, but once the awkwardness wears off, it’s really, really fun sport. We simply must lower the cost of dental care in the nation, and I say we start with dental insurance executives’ salaries and bonuses. Are you with me; Doctor? And let’s not forget all the non-productive busywork insurance companies never reimburse us for.

Are you Fed Up?

Are you fed up with successfully doing intricate handwork to exacting tolerances in mouths of anxious patients and then having to fight to get the patients’ insurance company to pay what they rightfully owe THEIR CLIENT? Are you tired of the way anonymous and unaccountable insurance employees treat you and your staff when their company’s contractual relationship is not with anyone in your office?

In my opinion, Delta Dental, United Concordia, UnitedHealth, BCBSTX and most other secretive dental insurance companies have been cheating Americans for decades under the cover of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1945 – which protects them from prosecution by the FTC and cries out to be repealed (tell your Congressperson).

The Age of Transparency

Even in the age of transparency, old habits die hard, especially when there is a profit and campaign funds involved. Dental “insurance” has always harbored fraudulent business activities and has never made sense as a wise purchase – even if one doesn’t brush their teeth. It’s a business built on complicated rules, client deceit and intrusion into their relationship with their dentist.

Dental insurance crime as policy has long avoided market correction because up until now, dentists had no control over the media (and dentistry is boring). Not unexpectedly, when business entities are shielded from accountability in an otherwise free market, it is always the clueless consumer who wastes money on lousy dental insurance policies.

IMHO

In my opinion, employers should be offering their employees the choice of cash or dental insurance. Then let Adam Smith’s invisible hand of competition spank the butts of the greedy and deceitful.

Dentists

Dentists, if you were given the opportunity to effectively voice your opinion directly to employers who carelessly purchase bad dental plans they know nothing about according to the appearance of an ad, what would you say? So why aren’t you saying it right here, right now? If not now, when, Doc?

Assessment

If you don’t make your complaints known, do you think MBA benevolence will eventually improve the dental insurance industry in the nation? I say we do what feels natural and bitch. Let’s live on the wild side and take our chances on someone calling us “unprofessional.” We owe it to our patients to promote honesty in our community. Otherwise, how can your silence possibly help your patients?

Conclusion

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ICD-10 is Not an Airplane

It’s Another Part of HIPAA the ADA Won’t Discuss

By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

A couple of days following the heads up I posted concerning the imminent upgrade from the tedious ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 that is said to be exponentially more complicated, informatics specialist Tom Sullivan posted a signal to fellow coders nationwide: “7 tactics for making ICD-10 urgent.”

http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/7-tactics-making-icd-10-urgent 

If you are fed up with unfunded, non-productive and ineffective mandates like I am, I imagine an alert to coders to create urgency in your practice makes your ear lobes burn bright red as well.

Tedious Administrative Tasks 

According to Sullivan, the ICD-10 presents providers with new requirements for “care management protocols, clinical and financial databases and reports, reimbursement, registries, quality management and research.” These requirements do not promote patients’ best interests. These tedious administrative tasks only enable HIPAA-covered entities to get paid.

ADA

If you are a HIPAA-covered dentist with a voluntary but permanent 10-digit NPI number which is required for ICD-10 compliancy, are you aware if ADA leaders have yet described the ICD-10 coding system any better than they described the NPI number that Delta Dental, BCBSTX, as well as the ADA aggressively promoted years ago?

Who knows? The ICD-10 may not even apply to dentistry. Somewhere deep in the HIPAA Rule, there might be a footnote that says “except in dental practices.”

Department of Dental Informatics

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard rumors about HIPAA’s nasty surprises for dentists. Five years ago this month, “quality” control through dental informatics was enthusiastically but perhaps prematurely revealed to me by an excited spokesman for the ADA Department of Dental Informatics. It was his email that equipped me with everything I needed for this 5 year adventure.

Shortly afterwards, the topic of HIPAA became so poisonous for ADA officials to discuss that the misled leaders who unwittingly signed on to promote digital fantasies in dentistry only rarely appeared in print and never on the internet – leaving the responsibility of informing naïve and trusting ADA members about the downsides of EHRs to those who sell EHRs.

Nevertheless, following three years of official silence about HIPAA from the ADA, in the last 14 months there have been two commentaries published in the JADA which promote quality control in dentistry. The first was written by James Bader DDS and appeared in the December 2009 edition of the JADA titled “Challenges in quality assessment of dental care.”

http://jada.ada.org/cgi/content/full/140/12/1456  

Quality Control 

The second commentary concerning quality control was written by Editor Michael Glick DMD titled ““When good may not be good enough — The need for clinical performance measures in dentistry.” (I’m no longer able to access JADA online).

EBD 

HIT stakeholders Bader and Glick, who are both fervent supporters of Evidence Based Dentistry as well as paperless dental practices, carefully tiptoe around what looks to me like an oppressive, micromanaged future for dentists. They both argue what must be a desperate committee-approved talking point – that quality assessment is critically important for ADA members so that fully-licensed dentists will have digital, Evidence-Based proof that their care is better than dental therapists’ who work for much less money.

Are ADA leaders sitting around a big table in ADA Headquarters when they think up this crap?

In addition, the cloistered committee concludes that patients’ opinions of their dentists is too difficult to collect and less reliable than algorithms based on dental claims and other data provided by the ICD-10 (?).

In fact, Dr. Bader is so confident in Evidence-Based digital results, he dismisses the need for any patient involvement in quality assessment: “Patient satisfaction has been shown to be associated only weakly with other assessments of quality of care, which means that it cannot be used as a surrogate for measures of technical quality.” Try telling that to a formerly satisfied dental patient who suddenly must pick his or her next dentist from a “preferred” provider list of strangers.

Assessment 

You mean like Ingenix’s measures of technical quality, Dr. Bader? In 2008, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo spanked the UnitedHealth subsidiary for selling algorithmic excuses to insurers to be used to cheat out-of-network physicians.

Conclusion

If you are a small business owner who reasonably asks to be paid no more and no less than what one is owed as quickly as possible – if not immediately like all other businesses in the land of the free – I’m pretty sure Sullivan’s 7 pearls intended to make ICD-10 more urgent for doctors will light up the lobes again. And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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On Delta Dental and the National Association of Dental Plans

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ADA News Tries Sarcasm

[By D. Kellus Pruitt DDS]

For fear of retaliation, ADA officials are reluctant to admit that Delta Dental and other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) have traditionally used the FTC as a tool to intimidate our professional organization. This means that for decades, the federal government has prevented the ADA from adequately representing the interests of dentist members. Something interesting happened in the ADA just days ago that is related to this tyranny. I assume frustration in the ADA’s unfair struggle against both Delta Dental and the FTC caused the editor of the ADA News to recently permit sarcasm for the first time in history – perhaps to attract attention to Delta’s policies?

A Humorous Article 

On August 9, ADA reporter Kelly Soderlund was given the green light to post an uncharacteristic, tongue-in-cheek introduction to her article, “Decision supports Massachusetts Dental Society insurance challenge.” http://www.ada.org/news/4558.aspx She sold it: “For nearly 40 years, Massachusetts dentists have had to abide by a regulatory order that allowed Delta Dental Plan of Massachusetts to receive an additional 5 percent discount off reimbursement fees in addition to other plan discounts.” Soderlund continues, “More than a decade ago, the Massachusetts Dental Society tried to get the order lifted but was unsuccessful. But now, after a reinstated five-year battle, the New England dentists can claim victory.”

OK. I lied.

In spite of her unintentionally humorous description of the Massachusetts Dental Society’s ineffectiveness, Soderlund was actually not sarcastic. That’s right. The ADA indeed hails this (very qualified) success as a long-fought glorious victory for dentists in Massachusetts where 95% of them are Delta preferred providers. That can’t be good for the health of Massachusetts dental patients. Managed care dentistry is dentistry by the lowest bidders with no quality control, and patients notice. Some stop going to the dentist, causing Delta Dental to reap even more profit. That is why it is not in Delta’s interest to satisfy their clients, and the employers who purchase Delta’s plans are clueless. This makes Delta Dental unaccountable to anyone.

The Delta Business Model 

Delta’s business model helps make the company one of the most unfair discount dentistry brokers in the nation, in my opinion. If you want proof, go to doctoroogle.com and visit any major city.

http://www.doctoroogle.com/dentist_ratings.cfm/pageID/2 Then compare dental patients’ ratings of Delta’s preferred providers to fee-for-service dentists’. In the numerous studies I’ve performed, Delta’s dentists’ average satisfaction level as determined by their patients is consistently inferior to fee-for-service dentists. (See Managed Care Report Card from November 10, 2008).

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/transparency-and-managed-care?commentId=2013420%3AComment%3A19577

Delta Accountability? 

As you can see, since the FTC inhibits the ADA from honestly telling our story, dental care principals desperately need the ADA to open our Facebook so Delta can be held accountable to dentists and patients. Otherwise, Delta will never assume responsibility for the dental homes its preferred provider lists break apart – more often than not, sending their clients to less satisfying offices. What’s more, even Delta officials admit that “changing dentists causes fillings.” (See “Managed Care or Dental Homes – You can’t have both,” September 30, 2008)

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/2013420:Topic:14014

FTC Fear 

If dentists and patients are not permitted to tell our story ourselves through the nationally recognized American Dental Association, we will always be 40 years behind Delta Dental and 5% short of what they owe us. Even though ADA leaders will forever be handicapped by fear of the FTC, individual Americans have nothing to fear. The failure of the Massachusetts Dental Association shows us that an ineffective ADA is worse than no ADA at all because a victory after 40 years is defeat.

MDA Victory 

One can read from Soderlund’s words that the Massachusetts Dental Association’s “victory” didn’t even slow Delta down. She writes “Delta Dental of Massachusetts has informed the ADA that the new reimbursement methodology will include the development of regional fee schedules. Information on exactly how those regional fee schedules will be developed and how that will affect dentists’ reimbursement has not yet been made available.” Whatever methodology Delta’s actuaries come up with, you can be sure it will be biased against their clients’ interests and will more than make up for the 5% of principals’ money that they conceded after 40 years. We simply must face the fact that the ADA isn’t helping. Soderlund continues: “The company also announced a new voluntary program to compensate dentists for successfully managing the care of higher risk patients. Delta Dental has not yet explained how that compensation would take effect.”

Assessment

Do you trust a Delta Dental consultant – who works on commission – to decide what is best for your patient? Or are you ready to demand that the ADA open our Facebook so we can all tell Delta Dental what we think of their unfair practices on an individual basis guaranteed by the First Amendment? Our patients depend on us to protect them from harm caused by greedy stakeholders. As Soderlund describes it, we’re losing, but not without humor.

Conclusion

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A New Survey on Dental Insurance

Come on out Kim E. Volk – CEO of Delta Dental

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Today, Julie Frey posted “Dentist & Dental Insurance: No Love Lost” on Jim Du Molin’s Blog.

http://www.thewealthydentist.com/blog/1186/dentist-dental-insurance/

Frey hosts dentists’ frank criticism of dental insurance – their harsh sentiments backed up with fresh results from yet another of the blog’s timely studies that nobody else can compete with. Frey writes “Half of dentists have mostly or completely stopped accepting dental insurances, according to this survey.”  One dentist captured the mood of the dentists with the statement, “Do the math … somebody is making hell of a lot of money on these plans, and it is not the dentist!” I smelled blood and posted the following comment.

Bloody Sunday

Anonymous members of the obscure National Association of Dental Plans (NADP) are losing the fat, collective thumb they once oppressed us with – even using our own ADA News to present their non-negotiable terms. Apart from common sense appearing in the marketplace about the same time as transparency, multiple other interconnected factors are causing dental insurance companies to lose business. The bad economy, corporate greed and pride are a few of their more serious handicaps that come to mind. Wasteful, deceptive insurance practices have aggravated my patients and me for decades before modern networked recourse became available on the Internet through progressive Websites like Jim Du Molin’s Blog. I’ll go out on a limb and say it is not unprofessional for us to enjoy protecting those we serve by showing no mercy to unfair stakeholders like the NADP.

There. I said it. In fact, as US citizens and taxpayers I think blowing the whistle on unneeded expense and danger in the nation’s healthcare delivery is the least we can do for meaningful healthcare reform. I say do your part. Make an insurance CEO like Delta Dental Plans Association’s Kim E. Volk feel discomfort on the Internet. Do you know that Kim E. Volk is the only person who has ever refused to accept me as a friend on Facebook?

http://www.jbpub.com/catalog/9780763733421/

Assessment 

We really don’t want to allow Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare, United Concordia and others to dictate fees for non-covered dental services, do we? I also don’t think they deserve continued protection from FTC anti-trust litigation. I say we punish the NADP hard every chance we get until the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act and finally make such in-your-face collusion illegal for crying out loud.

Conclusion

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DrBicuspid.com is Biased against Dentists

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More on Delta Dental

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

Kathy Kincade, Editor-in-Chief of DrBicuspid posted the article, “Studies urge adding adult dental benefits to Medicare” on January 29, 2010.

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=303755

Ms. Kincade has always been generous to Delta Dental, making me suspect that she is less than unbiased.

Of Delta Dental

For example, at the end of the article, she devotes the last words about dental coverage for the elderly to an advertisement for Delta:

“Through a relationship with Delta Dental, the AARP offers the AARP Dental Insurance Plan, a dental PPO for AARP members that includes more than 100,000 dentist locations across the U.S. Delta also offers individual plans that are ‘particularly popular among retirees,’ according to Chris Pyle, director of public relations and community benefits at Delta Dental.”

Kincade closes her ad with a quote from Chris Pyle:

“Delta Dental has been a pioneer in developing affordable dental insurance options for those who do not have coverage through an employer. Retirees who take the time to do the math are finding individual and family dental insurance plans to be a wise option.”

How much does advertisement space on DrBicuspid go for these days?

Dr. Hamm                     

That is when Dr. Hamm got involved. He first requested that Chris Pyle document his claim:

”Prove it, Mr. Pyle. Let’s see your figures. Be sure to include comparison of the quality of care between PPO dentistry and fee-for-service dentistry. Do you think discounting fees – even for non-covered expenses – improves the quality of intricate care?”

When Dr. Hamm failed to get an immediate response, he went to the source. Here is what he had to say to the Editor in Chief of DrBicuspid:

——————————————————–

Kathy Kincade, pardon me for being straightforward, but at the risk of making it difficult for DrBicuspid reporters to obtain future interviews with Delta Dental PR professionals and ADA presidents, I proclaim that it is DrBicuspid readers’ rights – indeed Americans’ obligation – to challenge unsupported, self-serving statements that strategically discount facts in healthcare to protect stakeholders from principals (that would be dentists and patients).

DDPA Employee 

Chris Pyle, the on again – off again DDPA employee, isn’t the first Delta PR specialist who has told DrBicuspid outrageous statements before failing to answer the bell when challenged. A year ago, in an article by DrBicuspid Associate Editor Rabia Mughal, another shy and unaccountable Delta Dental PR professional poked his head up before diving for cover. Delta employee Ari Adler is reported to have said that “direct reimbursement to out-of-network dentists is a problem because it allows them to enjoy the benefits provided by the network without following cost guidelines and quality control measures of the network.”

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=301436

“We put our dentists thorough a credentialing process and provide quality assurance. That means if a dentist does a filling that should last a certain amount of time and it doesn’t, they have to fix it without charging the network or the patients.” 

– Ari Adler, communications administrator at Delta Dental of Indiana

Even after repeated requests for an explanation of Delta’s unprecedented guarantee of dental work done by Delta’s preferred providers, Ari Adler, a very popular master of Twitter who also teaches PR as a part-time job, declined to answer (So much for popularity on Twitter). I assume the PR and social network expert thinks that since he’s the Communications Administrator for such a powerful company, he’s protected from accountability. Besides, American dentists love and respect Delta Dental, don’t they?

Dr. Ron Tankersley

And; what about Dr. Ron Tankersley who is President of the American Dental Association. Is he also simply too good to talk with us?

————————————————

I may or not know Dr. John Hamm. I know Editor in Chief Kathy Kincade, though. She kicked me off of DrBicuspid over a year ago – the day before DrBicuspid consummated a contractual relationship with the ADABEI to receive the ADA seal of approval.

An Invitation

I should warn readers that I could be wrong about what may have been just an odd coincidence, so I invite you, Kathy Kincade, to discuss journalism ethics with me on Pruitt’s Platform. I trust someone will warn you, Kathy, of this invitation before it comes up on your first page in a Google search. My article “DrBicuspid, the ADA and split allegiances” from 2/15/09 is the 8th hit already. Now do you remember me?

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/drbicuspid-the-ada-and-split

Assessment 

Come on out, Kathy. I’ve been waiting for this a long time. Come on out where everyone can see you defend Delta Dental. Please invite Brian Casey as well. He was the Editorial Director of IMV Publishing a year ago. Is he still around – policing the Internet?

Conclusion

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Stuff that Still Floats to the Top on the ME-P

Interesting Articles of Yore

By Darrell K. Pruitt: DDS

I’ve posted hundreds of articles on the Medical Executive-Post over the last year, and it always surprises me when something I long ago forgot rises to the top of their popularity scale.

The Run-Down

Earlier today, a comment I posted on March 30 titled “Usual and Customary UnitedHealthcare” was the most popular article out of thousands (?).

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/usual-and-customary-unitedhealthcare/

Why the sudden interest in UnitedHealth? Where is it coming from? 

At the same time, an article I posted on June 17 titled, “GM Bankruptcy Hits Delta Dental Hard,” had just showed up at 11th of the top dozen most popular articles. Why?  

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/gm-bankruptcy-hits-delta-dental-hard/

Now, the UnitedHealthcare has dropped off the top dozen, and GM Bankruptcy has moved up to number 6.

Assessment 

Do you find that interesting? What do you think happened in the dental insurance market that has ME-P juggling my articles?

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ADA Opens a Facebook

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Perhaps too Early?

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Something strange has happened to www.DentalBlogs.com I think they have partially shut down their Facebook account. They no longer feature original articles such as those by Dr. Rhonda Savage and Ms. Linda Miles, and in the last couple of weeks, they eliminated their collection of photos. Now the site only features ads and press releases. Does anyone else wonder what happened? Sure you do! This is exciting.

Perhaps Re-Tooling 

Unless they are just re-tooling this weekend, I suspect that since their previous format was biased heavily in favor of advertising dollars in a tough economy, their funding simply dried up. Like so many other advertising-related careers, the dinosaur found it couldn’t compete in a 2.0 market.  Nevertheless, today I did learn something important from the DentalBlogs Wall: The ADA has opened a Facebook account.

http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/American-Dental-Association/32252997166?ref=mf

Such transparency is inspirational

When I announced this news on Twitter a few hours ago (“Proots”), neither the ADA nor the TDA had yet told membership. Yea, I scooped them on their in-house news. It happens all the time.  Naturally, I became a fan of the ADA Facebook. When I joined, there were already 1205 fans, even though the site is yet operational. I found that intriguing because it usually takes a long time for most FBs to attain 1200 fans – especially when all one can gather is the mission statement of the ADA’s newest Internet site.

My View 

Here’s what I see: About the time DentalBlogs laid off employees from their fully active Facebook, the ADA opened theirs (Gasp)! The ADA was well known to DentalBlogs because the ADA once advertised with them regularly. That is where I found an article about the ADA-approved CareCredit/GE that ended up causing problems for some people and entertainment for others. Let’s face it, friends. I just know that I’m not the only dentist in the nation with at least two burning questions. I bet at least 4 others are wondering who were the first seven fans to sign up for the ADA Facebook and Has Kim Volk, CEO of DDPA signed up yet?

Because the number of fans is rapidly piling up, such information from a few weeks (?) ago could soon be just too difficult to uncover from the fans list on the ADA site. It took a long time for me to scroll down through 1200 names – looking for those I recognize (Gasp)!

Scrolling Quickly, but Carelessly

I could have easily missed several easily recognizable names in contemporary dentistry, but as far as I can tell, not only was Delta Dental Plans Association CEO Kim E. Volk’s name not present in the list of 1200 fans, but there were very few names I recognized … and I’m sorry if I insulted anyone. I also did not see “Ron Tankersley” and other ADA officials’ names on the fans list. Didn’t the ADA try partial transparency like this once before? I may be wrong, but I think I played a role in shutting it down a few years ago with my persistent and still unanswered questions about the NPI number.

More Semi-Reliable Information

Here’s another bolus of semi-reliable information: I also quickly scrolled through DentalBlog’s list of 400 fans and did not notice an unusual amount of matches with the ADA Facebook fans list.

Those who dare to do so, might just ask, “So if the ADA fans didn’t come from dentalblogs, where did they come from?” I think one possibility is that the ADA effort has been in Beta and limited to a select group of people up until now. Doesn’t it seem strange that nobody is able to post anything? Did someone open the doors a few hours early? So who were the first 7 fans? No, you don’t have to scroll down to find out for yourself. I’ll tell you.

Who is John Hergert?

The first person to become a fan of the ADA Facebook account is named John Hergert from Chicago, Illinois.

2nd – Laurie Rich

3rd – Amy Lund

4th – Kelsey Majors

5th – Jessica Stevens

6th – Samantha Campbell

7th – Lina Kulkormi

I don’t recognize any of the seven, and I have not searched anyone’s name other than John Hergert’s – the first person to become a fan of the ADA Facebook. I found someone named John Hergert in Chicago, Illinois who is Associate Vice President at Lipman Hearne Inc. – an advertising agency.

http://www.spoke.com/info/p6JVgPy/JohnHERGERT.

Here is the bio of the person I only suspect is the first to become a fan of the ADA Facebook.

John Hergert’s Biography

John Hergert Associate Vice President John Hergert has a keen understanding of what it takes to capture and hold the attention of marketing audiences via innovative marketing techniques. Formerly Associate Director of Marketing Communications at DePaul University in Chicago, John works with both traditional and interactive media to design and implement marketing strategies that build a client’s image, increase support, and grow enrollment or attendance. John’s experience includes developing ROI-based marketing strategies for a variety of nonprofit and for-profit clients. Prior to DePaul, John was an account executive overseeing marketing and advertising strategy, web development, direct mail, print production, and promotional development for clients including Disney, Marconi, Owens Corning, and Reynolds. John began his marketing career while at the University of Wisconsin, where he was hired by a Los Angeles firm to implement cutting-edge marketing programs for Saturn and Trek Bicycle Corporation. John received his B.A. in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin and his Master of Science in Information Systems from DePaul University.”

Assessment 

What do you want to bet that the ADA Facebook is Mr. Hergert’s baby?

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Why ADA / Intelligent Dental Marketing Failed?

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The ADA is an Incredible Dinosaur

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt

As a member of the ADA, I am also a part owner in any business venture the leaders of the organization enter into. I’ve observed the loss of my investment in a business deal because my employees made mistakes. As a business owner, it would be simply irresponsible for me to ignore something like this.

The Embarrassing Story  

Do you know what part is missing from this embarrassing story? The ADA has not uttered a word about the ADA/IDM failure… Or, as the ADA Business Enterprise Inc. leaders call it – the ”ADA/idm” failure.

The fact that the two business entities never came to an agreement on what to even call their doomed joint venture reveals a lot about the egos that gummed up the machinery. It’s possible that pride undermined our non-profit/for-profit partnership from the very start. We just don’t know what happened because there are so many possible reasons for this business model to fail. Will loss of ADA members’ investment happen again if the cause is not recognized and eliminated? I think the chances are pretty good that even more embarrassment is on the way. Given the soft environment, it’s only natural.

Over my 27 year career as a dentist, I have met many ADA officials, both employed and elected, on all three levels of the tripartite system of governance – local, state and national. From the topmost quality of character I have witnessed in all but a few politically-empowered and proudly insensitive exceptions, I can assure you that like all major projects of the ADA, the failed ADA/IDM adventure into dental marketing was assembled with nothing but noble intentions and benevolent wishes for ADA members and dental patients – at least from the ADA side. Whether the leaders of the ADA’s new business partner, Intelligent Dental Marketing out of Utah, were dedicated to serving ADA members in a captive market is unlikely. The ADA/IDM business model is sort of like managed care dentistry. When dentists sign contracts that provide them with clients regardless of how they are treated, there is a natural tendency for dentists to become unappreciative of those who pay their bills.

Little Consumer Competition  

The ADA allows Americans to experience what socialism is like in markets where there is no competition for consumers: Professionals such as dentists stop trying to please their patients, and IDM stops trying to please dentists. If IDM was a decent company before the business venture with ADA membership, the ADA ruined them with a sweetheart deal that included protecting them from competition, as well as shielding them from complaints by angry ADA members. And like dental patients with preferred provider lists, ADA members noticed the bad treatment. However, complaints were never made transparent even as more ADA members where signing contracts with ADA/IDM. That is unfair and unethical.

Just Google for Complaints  

Want to see what an embarrassment in situ looks like? Just Google “CareCredit complaints.” ADA-approved CareCredit/GE has a long history of sweetheart deals like the one they made with ADA leaders. Their trail is always marked by complaints. The ADABEI is selling ADA members’ reputations. I just read ADA reporter James Berry’s article highlighting outgoing ADA President Dr. John S. Findley’s address to the House of Delegates that he gave on Friday. The article is titled, “We built our home on a foundation of science and values: Dr. Findley”

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3771

One free-standing paragraph in the article caught my attention that perhaps exposes a symptom of the pride and secrecy that surrounds the ADA/IDM disaster. In the middle of the article, James Berry offers this cryptic message that was obviously not meant for all members to understand:

“On the Association itself, the president noted that the ADA has undergone significant change in the past year and a half. As problems were discovered and defined, he said, the leadership acted to resolve them.” 

Was the ADA/IDM fiasco one of the problems that was resolved? Did they resolve the problem with CareCredit/GE causing ADA members to be covered by the Red Flags Rule – and not letting members know about it? Did they resolve the problem of data breaches and how they can mean certain bankruptcy for ADA members, even if the members do the right thing?

Possibly  

We just don’t know which problems were resolved, but somehow we should feel much better, now that President Findley got the message out to mid-level ADA leaders who probably know exactly what he is referring to. And, by protecting lower caste members from knowing things they don’t need to know, problems are quietly resolved and the profession’s image is preserved. “Image is everything” – ADA/IDM business slogan.

“Findley for the future”- Dr. John S. Findley’s campaign slogan.

Bingo! We have a match.

We should not forget that before IDM leaders got in way over their heads and started doing foolish things like marketing Search Engine Optimization (SEO) talents they lacked, there has not been a dues increase for a couple of years – in part because of the profits that were churned from ADA/IDM purchases ADA members made. I am certain that the ADA Business Enterprise Inc’s failure breaks the hearts of sincere and devoted leaders in the ADA who would have never recommended going outside the ADA’s Mission Statement had ADA employees been transparent with them. The officials of IDM couldn’t care less. Their part of the venture is much easier to dissolve for the Utah businessmen. They just picked up and walked away. However, the ADA officials have a fiduciary responsibility to members who trusted them. Once again, virtually all of the ADA leaders are just like you and me. Some just got in too deep on our behalf and couldn’t shut the mistake down before members got needlessly hurt.

Officials in other businesses the size of the ADA are held accountable for their mistakes and are not afforded the opportunity to filter communications with the owners because of image concerns. This kind of sweetheart deal for business executives, most of who come from Delta Dental, UnitedHealthcare or both, as in the case of the new executive director, Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlan, occurs only in the ADA and to a lesser extent in the US government and dental insurance industry.

Assessment

The state of the ADA is not nearly as rosy as Dr. Findley would have us believe. I think we have all seen authoritarian leaders re-write history. The ADA is an incredible dinosaur.Business can be ugly in the highly competitive land of the free. If businesses don’t take risks, we cannot move forward. For that reason, mistakes are expected. But never forget. Owners expect to be told about them.

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ADA President and Broken Promises

The Future President

By Darrell K. Puritt; DDS

pruitt8

The election for a future ADA president occurs the first week in October in Hawaii at the 2009 annual meeting. A couple of days ago, the ADA News Online posted the ADA President-elect candidates’ statements.

http://www.ada.org/prof/resources/pubs/adanews/adanewsarticle.asp?articleid=3133

All three sound like they support meaningful dialogue with membership: Candidate Dr. Raymond Gist says one of his goals is: “To protect and preserve ownership of the intellectual property of the ADA while demonstrating transparency and fostering an understanding of how our system works.” Candidate Dr. William Glecos says “My first goal will be to coordinate and improve our communication efforts within the ADA. To make sure we are engaging all our members and imparting a sense of connection and transparency.” Candidate Dr. Marie Schweinebraten says “… communication, internal and external, must be improved to respond in today’s world … barriers must be eliminated to allow member input and volunteer involvement when solving specific issues.” I’ve seen candidates use these same buzzwords before, but not mean them. Dentistry is being severely threatened right now, and I’m too young to retire. So I want to see a future leader confident enough to walk through fire with me on behalf of my patients.

Promises from ADA President-elect candidates have been very disappointing so far. Past President Dr. Mark Feldman, President Dr. John Findley and President-elect Dr. Ron Tankersley each promised “transparency.” Feldman and Findley broke their promises very early, and so far, Tankersley has done no better. Nine months ago I invited Dr. Tankersley to a conversation about the future of electronic dental records and he chose to insult me with silence rather than respond. I took it personally, Ron, and I’ll never forget it. Because all three of these presidents are simply rude people, it wouldn’t bother me to never ask any of them for friendship. 

So do you think our fresh leaders are any more sincere about transparency with membership? Or are they also hoping to be safely elected. This could be an opportunity for one or more of the three to break loose and be counted as a brave leader… or not. Let me show you what Feldman, Findley and Tankersley have gotten us into. Below is a list of duties expected of dentists with NPI numbers that came out today on ANCO Online. If any of you three candidates have the courage to respond to my challenging comments about what I consider to be a perfect example of a renegade department, jump right in. Concerned members need to be warned about the courage we can count on. If you cannot defend the Department of Dental Informatics, just say so. We’ll all be better off. And on truth, we can build. What an opportunity for you! I bet one could easily gain the delegates’ attention by doing the right thing, even if it is unpopular at first to those who may have helped you to power.

Responding to this article in a respectful, professional way could be just what it takes to get a person elected to the highest position in the American Dental Association. That’s what you intensely want, isn’t it? You just have to recognize what I am spelling out for you, Raymond, William and Marie. Just look at the growing discontent with the ADA on the Internet. Whoever is the first to show sincerity and courage, will become a hero to those of us who feel betrayed by those we once trusted. Victory will never be easier. I’ve had a look around. Believe me when I tell you that things are soo bad that even I could be a contender. Don’t make me run for the job.

Here is the first issue for discussion if you are interested: For dentists who were persuaded by the ADA Department of Dental Informatics to quickly volunteer for the 10 digit identifying number, let me ask you this: If you had been told what ADA employees are paid to tell you, which you can read below, would you have applied for an NPI number? And if you were forced to apply for a number by a managed care contract with BCBSTX, Delta Dental or other discount dentistry broker, would that be considered an unfair business practice?

Let’s look at fairness: Who does the NPI number help? Dental patients or BCBSTX? Or perhaps the ADA? We were told again and again in ADA News Online articles written by Arlene Furlong that the best reason for the NPI number was convenience. She said office managers would love it because it would replace numerous identification numbers. When one reads the list of NPI obligations a dentist volunteers their office manager for, all those other numbers don’t seem so bad after all. Why was HIPAA so important that the ADA Department of Dental Informatics forced employees under its supervision to intentionally mislead membership? Does the ADA work for dentists and their patients or for CMS? There you go, Dr. Raymond Gist, Dr. William Glecos and Dr. Marie Schweinebraten. It’s your turn now. If you have the guts to step up to a challenge, it could pay off big. Besides, even if you get elected without first responding to my concerns doesn’t mean you’ll get rid of me. Oh heaven’s no.

D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS

http://anco- .blogspot.com/2009/08/asco-coa-cms-palmettoj1mac-news.html

**** CMS NEWS ****

This message is for health care providers, particularly physicians and other practitioners, who have obtained National Provider Identifiers (NPIs) and have records in the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recommends that each health care provider, including individual physicians and non-physician practitioners: · Secure and maintain their own NPPES account information (i.e., User ID, Password, and Secret Question/Answer) for safety and accessibility purposes. Health care providers should maintain the confidentiality of their User ID, password, and Secret Question/Answer in order to protect their NPPES information from unauthorized access. Reset their NPPES passwords at least once a year.

See the NPPES Application Help page at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Help.do and select the ‘Reset Password Page’ for applicable rules. Those rules indicate the length, format, content and requirements of NPPES passwords. Review their NPPES records in order to ensure that the information reflects current and correct information. Covered health care providers are required to update their NPPES information within 30 days of the effective date of the change.

Viewing NPPES Information Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can view their NPPES information in one of two ways: (1) By accessing the NPPES record at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Welcome.do and following the NPI hyperlink and selecting Login. The user will be prompted to enter the User ID and password that he/she previously created. If the health care provider has forgotten the password, enter the User ID and click the “Reset Forgotten Password” button to navigate to the Reset Password Page. If the health care provider enters an incorrect User ID and Password combination three times, the User ID will be disabled. Please contact the NPI Enumerator at 1-800-465-3203 if the account is disabled or if the health care provider has forgotten the User ID. OR (2) By accessing the NPI Registry at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/NPIRegistryHome.do.

The NPI Registry gives the health care provider an online view of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)-disclosable NPPES data. The health care provider can search for its information using the name or NPI as the criterion. Information regarding NPPES data that are FOIA-disclosable can be found at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand/ by selecting ‘Data Dissemination’. Please note: Business Mailing Address and Business Practice location information (full address and corresponding telephone numbers) are key data elements that are FOIA-disclosable.

Health care providers should not report their residential address unless it is their Business Mailing Address or Business Practice location. The NPPES data appearing on the NPI Registry cannot be deleted; however, it can be updated or changed. Updating NPPES Information Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can correct, add, or delete information in their NPPES records by accessing their NPPES records at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov/NPPES/Welcome.do and following the NPI hyperlink and selecting Login. The user will be prompted to enter the User ID and password that he/she previously created.

Please note: Required information cannot be deleted from an NPPES record; however, required information can be changed/updated to ensure that NPPES captures the correct information. Certain information is inaccessible via the web, thus requiring the change/update to be made via paper application. The paper NPI Application/Update Form (CMS-10114) can be downloaded and printed at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/cmsforms/downloads/CMS10114.pdf.

Deactivating the NPI Health care providers, including physicians and non-physician practitioners, can deactivate their NPIs if the NPIs are no longer required or needed. Reasons for deactivation include retirement, business dissolved, or death of the health care provider. A request for deactivation must be submitted via paper application. The paper NPI Application/Update Form (CMS-10114) can be downloaded and printed at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/cmsforms/downloads/CMS10114.pdf.

Health care providers should review the instructions located on the application regarding deactivations in order to properly complete the deactivation request. The Power of Attorney or Executor of the Will may complete the application for deactivation due to death of the health care provider.

Need More Information?

Providers can apply for an NPI online at https://nppes.cms.hhs.gov or can call the NPI enumerator to request a paper application at 1-800-465-3203. Visit CMS’ dedicated NPI web page at www.cms.hhs.gov/NationalProvIdentStand for additional NPI information.

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Janis Oshensky Lobbies Congress – Not Dentists

Show Me the Math

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDSpruitt 

I have noted here far too many times how it disappoints me that Delta Dental Plans Association vice president Janis Oshensky repeatedly chooses to turn to politicians rather than discuss Delta Dental’s arguably egregious and harmful policies with me, a dentist. I intend to put a stop to such disrespect one PR expert at a time if necessary.

Long ago I warned Oshensky that if she didn’t talk to me, she should probably just shut up in order to preserve what’s left of her Internet reputation. Since by posting her Letter to the Editor on POLITICO.com today, she obviously ignored my advice, this highly critical comment will reliably join three others of mine on her first page soon enough. Her employer is sacrificing her like a pawn.

The following comment is the one I posted on POLITICO.com in response to Oshensky’s letter. It might just help the vice president to finally come to a decision on this issue one way or the other. Either way, marketplace conversation like this cannot help but lead to safer air for the community … My pleasure.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/24873.html

Dear POLITICO.com Editor:

This comment and subsequent invitation to Janis Oshensky is in response to the Delta Dental Plans Association vice president’s July 14, 2009 letter to you. Her letter is the most recent message she successfully sent Congress using a political news Website. Even though Ms. Oshensky holds the position of VP of dental relations as well as public policy, she has avoided answering this dentist’s questions about Delta Dental’s policies for months. If Ms. Oshensky is willing to do so, I would love for her to join me in discussion of Delta Dental’s taxation subsidy right here on POLITICO.com so that our lawmakers can witness a more balanced view of the issues.

Hello – It’s Me

Hello. My name is D. Kellus; Pruitt DDS, and I’m a practicing dentist in Fort Worth, Texas. It is my professional opinion that my patients are harmed by the policies of managed care dental plans like that sold by DDPA because there is no accountability to their clients or dentists. There is barely any accountability to those who select and pay for Delta’s products – dental patients’ naive bosses.

Like virtually every US citizen, your readers probably couldn’t care less about the dental industry. It is precisely because dentistry has been uninteresting for decades that make the microcosm of health care incredibly interesting to me. Let me uncover for your appreciation the event horizon in dental history. You could learn about more than just dentistry.

If left to natural forces of human nature, what happens to value when there is no accountability? For example, what do the 1975 East German Trabant and the 1979 Ford Pinto have in common? By popular vote, those products not only represent the two worst automobiles ever made, but the state shielded both manufacturers from accountability to consumers. Poor quality happens.

Oshensky argues against the taxation of managed care dental benefits like those sold to employers by Delta Dental. Let me offer that if Delta’s product were taxed like income, its value would quickly dive below the market threshold that attracts purchasers’ consideration.

Allow Me to Show-You the Math

Recently, Delta Dental of Michigan lost the accounts of thousands of GM retirees when their group dental benefits were cut in bankruptcy negotiations with UAW. Suddenly, Delta found itself forced to market their product to individuals who for once have the choice to keep their money. Faced with true competition for healthcare dollars, Delta leaders desperately cobbled together individual policies for the retirees who want to continue with their coverage. Even though Delta did everything possible to lower the cost of their coverage, the cheapest of the plans they offered still runs about $30 per person per month, and covers only 50% of everything, including preventive. So for premiums of $360 per year plus half the preferred providers’ 20% to 30% discounted fees, is this a bargain for Michigan retirees?

Free Markets 

In my free-market, fee-for-service practice, if a patient comes in for two cleanings and routine x-rays during a year, 100% of my bill is $208. This is the market price in my neighborhood that is continually challenged by lively competition with other dentists for new patients who may not even have dental benefits. Those customers pay in full at the time of visit, just like most people whose bosses purchased Delta Dental Plans.

Value Comparisons

So let’s compare value of Delta Dental’s product with cash. If I were a Delta Dental preferred provider, my fee of $208, less Delta’s 25% discount would be $156. Never mind that my wife has problems with my 70% cut in pay, let’s move on. 

The patient’s half of the $156 I earned is $78. $360 + $78 = $438. So for one uneventful year of discounted dental services with a dentist chosen from a list of names, a patient can expect to spend more than twice as much than if they paid the free-market price at the point of service.

Assessment

Not only is that hardly a bargain, but it is my opinion that managed care dentistry is dentistry by the lowest bidder with no quality control. That should be enough meat to get this conversation rolling. Now it’s your turn Ms. Oshensky. I think you have to admit that you’ve got holes to mend in the dental relations part of your job.

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Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Texas on Facebook

Let’s Have Some Fun!

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]pruitt

Hello, sports fans. Have you missed me? It’s been about five days since I posted a comment that didn’t follow an article authored by someone else.

My last one was “Pruitt’s Platform – Introduction to an Adventure.” It’s unusual for me to go so long between posting stand-alone pieces, but after putting that title to my introduction, and compounding the challenge by promising to never push out bland stuff, I set my standard high. It took me a few days, but I finally found a deserving old target on a brand new venue that I think will hold your interest. BCBSTX and I have an intense history, so I assume they charged someone anonymous and shy to follow everything I write. I welcome you, whoever you are. Yea, you. The one hiding in the dark corner, justifiably afraid to utter a peep. Keep your pointed head down, friend, and try not to wet your nice pants.

BCBSTX, you should be disappointed to learn that I found your Facebook account. Even for a fat dinosaur, you are an especially thick and slow-moving easy target. I recommend you just surrender now to transparency and start the confessions and reparations before the lawsuits become huge and the lawyers profit more from your collapse than the Texan dental patients you’ve harmed. Let me remind you that the repeal of the McCarran-Ferguson Act is just around the corner, and we all know about the rumor (started by me) that there are attorneys across the nation just waiting to file class-action lawsuits against BCBS for unfair business practices, including restraint of trade for using the NPI number to drive satisfied patients from dental homes they preferred. Finally, BCBSTX will be subject to the same anti-trust laws as the doctors they fear, and I am here to make sure BCBSTX feels the pain. Look what happened to Dell Computer when that huge dinosaur was surrounded by Jeff Jarvis and Dell Hell. The game I’m playing with you is a more nimble, improved variation of Dell Hell, using fewer vulgar words.

You should know by now you are too fat and too slow to hide from me and the sports fans I bring. Nevertheless, I am always fair in telling my targets my goals before I go on to accomplish them. Here is what I am going to do to you, BCBSTX: I intend to pull your anonymous, unaccountable butt out into the wide open for everyone to see – especially the lawmakers you lobby and support with generous donations. Did you know that there is a rumor (also started by me) that some of those same lawmakers you consider friends are aware of most of what I write on the same day I post it? The transparency I bring will eventually trap and crush you, BCBSTX. Or, you can immediately come out and meet me for an open discussion about the inevitable reformation of dental insurance in Texas – putting humble, obedient bureaucrats with names under the direct control of dentists and patients. And of course, it is understood that in order to save Texas citizens millions of dollars in healthcare expense, there will be drastic downsizing of BCBSTX Dental, just like Delta Dental and ADA/IDM are experiencing right now. That means no more bonuses and no more frivolous pursuits like publishing, printing and mailing to Texas dentists those expensive self-serving brochures joyfully titled “NPI Times.” I suggest you get your resumes in order, BCBSTX employees. I’m very good at having my way with archaic business models. Others I have attacked, such as ADA/IDM and Delta Dental, are clearly failing. Coincidence? Perhaps you’d like to tell yourself that when I undermine your support every time you come up for air. Why not send out your sharpest PR specialists? Oh please, would you? Also, equip them with committee-approved talking points that I’ll hang around their necks for a long time.

When I discovered that BCBSTX had a Twitter account, I started asking anonymous employees of BCBSTX about their new NPI number requirement for processing dental claims – even for dentists who have no contractual relationship with the company. But rather than answer a dentist’s questions about their dental policy (incredibly stupid, BCBSTX), the leaders of the command and control company who can no longer command or control their own socks, responded by blocking me from following them. That was irresponsible, childish behavior from one of the largest and most powerful dental insurance companies in the state. Shouldn’t it be important for BCBSTX to respect dentists who must deal with their cumbersome rules?

At a time when managed care dental companies like BCBSTX are lobbying Congress hard to preserve their taxation subsidy, I think it is important for lawmakers to recognize that these huge stakeholders neglect the welfare of those they serve: the principles – dentists and their patients. We are your constituents who count, Congress. Not discount dentistry brokers whose products will not sell in the free market without mandates and taxpayer assistance – simply because they are lousy products.

If BCBSTX had not opened a Facebook account, I would not have opened one myself. I discovered my fat, defenseless opponent when I googlesearched “BCBSTX” the other day. On their first page was the link “What is the NPI number of BCBSTX? – Facebook.” It features a client’s naïve, insignificant question about the NPI number, and it opened the door for my informed, significant one which I copied below, as well as posted on Twitter.

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=93487018652&topic=8926

By the way, I was disappointed to see that my comment “BCBS-TX Dental Insurance is Rude to everyone,” which I posted on the Medical Executive-Post over three months ago, was no longer on BCBSTX’s first page. It was their third hit for weeks. But since I hadn’t given the comment a bump lately, it has dropped down to the bottom of their second page. Can’t have that! If you don’t mind, please click once or more on the following link and stay there a few minutes. That way, it will push the blunt criticism back up onto BCBSTX’s first page and will once again warn potential clients of BCBSTX’s poor business ethics. If you’re going to be there anyway, why not go ahead and read the sucker? You could find it interesting. Lots of people do.

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/03/27/bcbs-tx-dental-insurance-is-rude-to-everyone/

As I wrap up this comment, I’ll share with you with the question I left BCBSTX on Facebook almost 6 hours ago concerning their NPI policy. I don’t think Facebook was a good idea for BCBSTX leaders. Sit back and watch me get someone fired today.

Dear BCBSTX:

I would like to point out to readers more information about the NPI number which you are not likely to share. If you have BCBSTX dental insurance, and your dentist does not have an NPI number, BCBSTX will not process your dental claim and the premiums you will have paid to BCBSTX will become unearned profit for BCBSTX.

Is that true, BCBS-TX? Yes or no?

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Direct Reimbursement [DR] and RiskManagers.Us

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Transparent Dental Benefits versus Confusion

[By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS]

pruitt

“If you are not a part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.” 

Company slogan- www.riskmanagers.us

Meet Mr. William Rusteberg

Today, I met William Rusteberg on the PennWell forum when he replied to the thread, “Why the long NPI, BCBS-TX?” which I copied below, along with my response which includes a plug for Direct Reimbursement [DR].

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/why-the-long-npi-bcbstx?page=1&commentId=2013420%3AComment%3A26976&x=1#2013420Comment26976

Mr. Rusteberg represents a company called RiskManagers.Us, whose specialty involves the benefits market, yet it is not exactly an insurance company – just like there is no such thing as true dental insurance.  RiskManagers.us is a firm that works directly with businesses to identify and develop cost-effective benefits packages – emphasizing transparency and fairness.  Now that is refreshing, friends! 

Defining RiskManagers.Us 

Here is how RiskManagers.us describes itself: 

“We do not work for an insurance company, we work for you. As an independent brokerage, and consulting firm we can represent any licensed insurance company in Texas, Colorado, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois & Florida.”

If one visits the Web site’s “Reference Library,” here are some of the topics offered:

·         Self Funding – Need a second opinion?

·         Texas leads in transparency issues

·         Can’t get claim information? HB 2015 May Solve Your Problem

·         Medical Stop Loss Through a Captive

·         PPO Discounts – Games People Play

·         PPO Networks – Shell Game

·         Can Hospitals waive Deductibles in Texas?

“What is a NPI number?” 

Mr. Rusteberg’s initial question on the PennWell forum simply asked, “What is a NPI number?”  Following my explanation, he wrote: 

 “It seems that many of those in your profession would do well in accepting cash only, or directly working with employer groups who sponsor dental/medical plans on a direct pay basis. We have had good success in doing this for our clients – we have one employer in San Antonio who pays medical care providers directly and quickly – providers like it and the plan pays a fair and reasonable rate, not relying on a PPO network to “re-price” claims. We have done the same on dental plans, eliminating the insurance company, PPO network and paying dental care providers submitted charges directly and quickly. We see little or no trend increases on dental charges using this method. In my view, insurance companies interfere in patient – provider relationships in a financially detrimental way.”

Thanks for your reply.

My Response:

I like you, William; 

What you describe sounds like my all-time, personal favorite dental benefits plan. It is called Direct Reimbursement {DR}, and it not only gives the employer the unlimited capability to design a plan which reflects the level of commitment desired by the company, but most importantly, it naturally preserves quality of care by allowing employees unlimited freedom of choice in dentists.  And that’s as good as the market gets. 

http://www.directreimbursement.com/

In addition, since there are no NPI requirements for DR, employees are also permitted see dentists who decline NPI numbers for ethical reasons. That increases employees’ choice by 50% over BCBS-TX clients, according to recent information provided by the Healthcare IT Transition Group.

http://www.npidentify.com/stats.htm#states

Little Management Needed

Just like the benefits plans you mention, with DR, very little money is spent on management because such policies are so simple and transparent that there is no room for profit-enhancing (wasteful) confusion used by unethical companies like BCBSTX, Aetna, Cigna, UnitedHealth, Delta Dental, United Concordia, and so many other members of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP).

Assessment

Without transparency and the invisible hand of freedom-of-choice, free-market competition for healthcare dollars disappears as fast as executive bonuses rise. We’ll see where it goes from here. It would sure be swell if a Direct Reimbursement representative takes interest in the conversation; anyone home? 

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Reflections on Evidence Based Dentistry

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My Search for Truth – 2009

[By Darrell Kellus Pruitt; DDS]pruitt4

Do the leaders of the American Dental Association [ADA] encourage critical thinking by membership?  Or; do they fear my opinion of what appears to be destructive and self-serving institutional bias in my ADA that favors businesses peripheral to the care of dental patients, and at patients’ expense?  I think it is clear that there are a few good ol’ boys imbedded in the fat ADA who prefer to hide behind a comfortable, but obsolete command-and-control ADA business model.  The mighty ostrich stuck its head in the sand. Then along came a noisy, gasoline-powered weed-whacker. Never saw it coming.

Evidence-Based Dentistry Champion Conference

On May 29-30, the First Annual “Evidence-Based Dentistry (EBD) Champion Conference” will be convened in ADA Headquarters in Chicago.  Just like last year, the meeting with a brand-new name is sponsored by Procter & Gamble and The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice with Dr. Michael G. Newman as its Editor and Chief.  Even though this effort is enthusiastically supported by large corporations with products to sell, like P&G, managed care insurance companies such as Delta Dental, and electronic health records vendors such as Allscripts, the power of the reclusive stakeholders is further amplified by bureaucrats inside and outside the ADA – siphoning off my professional organization’s credibility.  That is my opinion based on actual contact with a few characters in this group. 

Evidence-Based Dentistry: 3rd International Conference

I attended the meeting last year when it was called “Evidence-Based Dentistry: 3rd International Conference” – I assume that in the last year, it lost its “international” status, and now caters only to “EBD Champions” (cheerleaders).  Last year, they were also looking for Champions for their EBD ideas, but the bias was better concealed.  I reported on the meeting in an article called “Evidence-Based Dentistry – My search for truth.”

http://community.pennwelldentalgroup.com/forum/topics/evidencebased-dentistry-my

Shortly into the meeting on May 4, 2008, I could tell by a show of hands from attendees that as a dentist who actually puts his hands in patients’ mouths as a regular part of his job; I was virtually alone in the auditorium.  This was confirmed by the volume of “Boo” directed at me later that day.  The Champions who had been selected months before the conference had already met that week and they were pumped. One could smell the zeal for EBD – whatever it means. 

Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice

In his introduction to last year’s conference, Dr. Michael G. Newman, Editor in Chief of the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice, told attendees that P&G is providing all the information about EBD to all the dental schools in the nation. I will be honest with you.  Being booed last year for addressing what I think is the inferior quality of managed care dentistry during the final discussion period may have affected my attitude about EBD. In addition, being subsequently blocked from responding to a hurt and angry managed care discount dentistry broker by an ADA employee named Dr. Ron Zentz also disappointed me in my ADA.  Dr. Zentz told me “This is not the place for this” as he stood between me and the microphone. Later I could not get Zentz to concede the indisputable fact that quality is proportional to reward. When I pressed him for an answer to the managed care question, he stoically repeated exactly what the insurance representative said: “Whether the dentistry is managed care or not, it makes no difference in the quality of care.”  Here is something cute:  The event was an “Evidence-Based” conference on the second floor of the Headquarters of the ADA, and Dr. Zentz is employed in the ADA’s “unbiased” science department.  Get it?  Now that’s funny!

Trouble-Makers Don’t Get Invited Back

My bad behavior last year may have something to do with why I was not invited to attend this year, even though I worked hard on the prerequisite essays which I will share with you later.  Nevertheless, I have to warn that ADA-approved propaganda from P&G doesn’t strengthen this dentist’s confidence that our leaders are protecting the future of dentistry, friends. Take a look at what healthcare parasites have quietly done over the last decade or so to physicians’ practices with the blessing of the AMA, and counter to the interests of patients.  Those same parasites were in ADA Headquarters on May 4, 2008.  Our house at 211 East Chicago Avenue reeked. 

EDB Vagueness

Like the HIPAA Rule on which Newman’s favorite interpretation of EBD leans hard, the beauty of EBD is in its vagueness. Both HIPAA and EBD can mean damn well anything one needs them to mean, and stakeholders with lots of influence have their fingerprints and drool all over the plans.  For example, Dr. Robert Ahlstrom, a stakeholder and one of the speakers at last year’s conference uses HIPAA to support EBD and vice-versa according to closed-circuit, cause-I-said-so science that he evidently makes up as he goes.  It is difficult for me to imagine that Ahlstrom’s eleven reasons that HIPAA benefit dentistry – which he presented as testimony for HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt over a year ago – were approved by a committee. I think Ahlstrom made up his reasons while waiting in the hall for the NCVHS meeting to begin. If the reasons were indeed approved by an ADA committee, I extend my sympathy. It must be difficult for challenged people like that to safely find their way home from work every day. 

(See “HIPAA and Dentistry – About Ahlstrom’s Controversial HIPAA Testimony”) 

https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/2009/01/08/hipaa-and-dentistry/

Where is the Evidence?

A few hours before Dr. Ahlstrom, an ADA NHII (National Health Information Infrastructure) Task Force member, took the podium, Dr. Newman pleaded with dentists to always ask, “Where is the evidence?”  I know Dr. Ahlstrom heard Dr. Newman’s words because Ahlstrom was sitting on the first row, next to ADA Senior VP Dr. John Luther, who is in charge of the ADA Department of Dental Informatics – a major beneficiary of EBD and HIPAA.

***

dental

***

Buzzwords 

I have come to the conclusion that EBD is a buzzword for a scheme supported by avaricious stakeholders who seek to regulate dentistry using healthcare IT.  I assume it will be left to Dr. Robert Ahlstrom to present the plan to the next administration in his special, fanciful way.  It is clear to me that the ADA is using Ahlstrom to lead American dentists down a computerized, cook-book path initially promoted several years ago at ADA Headquarters by none other than Newt Gingrich.  The path ends with the NPI, NPPES and Ingenix-style Pay-for-Performance instead of free-market competition and consumers’ desires.  Like Ahlstrom, EBD is little more than a tool.

Living with Rejection

I learned a couple of days ago that my application for this year’s conference was rejected.  A PDF letter signed by Dr. Michael Newman, Editor and Chief of the Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice stated that the competition for seats was intense this year, and that I just didn’t have what the selection committee was looking for in a “champion” – even though one can see by their essay questions that the EBD stakeholders desire dentists who can draw audiences. 

My Responses 

Below are my responses to this year’s questions that I posted on September 23, even before I hooked up with PennWell, and the ME-P.  I’m even more widely read now. 

Q: Are you involved in the treatment of populations with limited access to care?

Counseling people who have big problems and little money is part of the job. Almost every day I help patients make hard decisions that affect their appearance as well as health. Compromises are always difficult, especially when it involves children. I do my best to provide my patients with the information they need concerning their specific problems in a personal manner. In that respect, I am no different than almost all other dentists I know.

Q: Given the opportunity, how do you plan to disseminate the information and knowledge of EBD?

For dentistry-related news, I am arguably the most popular commentator on the Internet. If I am convinced that EBD is in patients’ best interest, I can promote the concept to a wider audience than anyone else in dentistry and it will not cost a thing. I can use any number of websites in addition to a private network of colleagues that has been in place for almost three years.  

If I leave the conference suspecting that stakeholders ambushed EBD to manipulate dentist-patient relationships for selfish reasons, I will work even more effectively to undermine it. Fair is fair.

Q: Are there any specific examples that demonstrate your ability to be a good disseminator?

Apart from having an increasingly popular column about healthcare matters on this ME-P https://healthcarefinancials.wordpress.com/?s=darrell+pruitt+dds ), I am always seeking new and innovative ways to attract attention to dentistry. I am very good at what I do.

Here is a simple demonstration of my talent: Googlesearch “Darrell Pruitt DDS.” You will discover that I’ve got what they call “googlejuice.” I create interesting content. People you need to reach read me.

The question is; does the ADA have the confidence to subject EBD to my critique? On the other hand, does the ADA have the courage not to?

Since I will not be allowed to keep colleagues in my neighborhood as informed in real-time and in detail as they should be, I invite one or more “EBD Champions” to describe what they learned following the Conference in May right here on this ME-P and PennWell forums.  And as always, I invite Dr. Robert Ahlstrom to discuss what he plans to do with my dental practice. 

Assessment

Tomorrow, as part of “Transparency and the ADA – a dissecting experiment,” I intend to post another question on the EBD link following my weekly report.  I will ask if Dr. Robert H. Ahlstrom will be addressing the audience before having my name put on a short-call list to replace late-cancellations.  Depending on the answer, I may go camping instead.

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Conclusion

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On Ingenix and Delta Dental

Or, Birds of a Feather; etc. etc

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

pruitt10

Introduction

Just a quick note while I’m working on other material. As anyone can see from reading Rabia Mughal’s DrBicuspid article, “Dentists or patients: Who should get the insurance check?” Delta Dental is simply a sleazy company that dentists should shun to protect their patients’ welfare.

http://www.drbicuspid.com/index.aspx?sec=sup&sub=pmt&pag=dis&ItemID=301436&wf=34

It is unethical to sign a contract with Delta Dental, and I will help Delta show you why. Here is a sample of Delta sleaze I intend to present:

Arlene Furlong on Delta Dental

On September 17, 2008, Arlene Furlong posted an article about Delta Dental on ADA News Online titled “Delta caps rates nationally for two networks.”

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

Furlong writes:

“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.″.

The Upshot 

This means that if a Delta preferred provider wishes to make up for the profit lost from providing Delta customers 25% discounts on dentistry, which works out to over half the dentist’s pay after expenses are deducted, doing more cosmetic dentistry will no longer help keep the doors open.  Delta, like a sleazy dentistry broker, is telling its providers that it will demand discounts on everything for its customers. Think about it. It is beyond unfair business practice. It is tyranny.

Invading the Dental Homes 

And now, Mughal tells us that Delta Dental intends to break up dental homes – where patients enjoy the benefits of continuity of care from dentists they prefer.  Why does Delta harm their clients like that? 

Ari Adler, the communications administrator at Delta Dental of Indiana says it is a matter of dentists stealing something from the network:

“Direct reimbursement to out-of-network dentists is a problem because it allows them to enjoy the benefits provided by the network without following cost guidelines and quality control measures of the network”, [Adler] added.

Quality control; you mean like UnitedHealthcare’s Ingenix? 

When one thinks about it, since dentists will only be paid half of what they are paid today, no matter what they do for dental patients, quality control could indeed become a new issue, just like the appearance of black-market dentistry. 

My Beat 

I will be covering quality control by dental consultants soon. Did you know that they have their own national organization? It is called the American Association of Dental Consultants (AADC). I bet you didn’t know this: Less than a year ago, Dr. Gordon Christiansen as well as Dr. John Luther, Senior Vice-President of the ADA, spoke at their annual convention in Scottsdale, Arizona. Delta Dental was Dr. John Luther’s employer before he came to work for the ADA. Hmm, I wonder?

Wait, there’s more:  the AADC’s largest sustaining sponsor is UnitedHealthcare Dental. http://aadc.org/site/sponsors.php

The Ingenix Scandal

Have you heard of UnitedHealthcare’s company called Ingenix?  New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo caught Ingenix being creative with physicians’ FOIA-disclosable data for cost-control purposes (profit), and calling it quality control.  Ingenix was marketing its professional number-cooking scheme to insurers across the nation before Cuomo saw through their deceit and recently demanded Ingenix to be dissolved. 

Transparent Feudal Mechanisms 

One can see that incest probably worked well for royalty in Europe until literacy and the free-market brought transparency to their self-perpetuating feudal machinations. I will be watching for a name and email address of an appropriate Delta Dental official to contact about Delta’s sleazy business practices.  At some point in this thread (which I can keep active for years), I intend to make someone from Delta Internet-famous among dentists, just like Trajan King, CEO of Intelligent Dental Marketing. Suggestions from readers and subscribers are always appreciated.  Please, no in-laws.

Assessment 

It is time to come out and defend yourself in front of a hostile audience, you good ol’ boys from Delta Dental … or not.  Your old command-and-control tricks don’t stand a chance in a transparent marketplace, and I will show you that silence is lame defense as well. Someone on your team is trapped. Please, let’s talk sooner than later.

Conclusion

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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?

Your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Feel free to review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

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Dental Managed Care Survey

Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA)

By Darrell K. Pruitt; DDS

The common sense truth about managed-care dentistry was recently confirmed by Delta Dental data mining.

Preliminary Oral Care Report

Concerning what one can do to assure the best oral care for oneself or one’s family; allow me to share some significant news about research that has not yet been formally published.

On the morning of August 14 2008, less than two weeks ago, a representative for Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA) revealed the results of an in-house study that confirms that remaining with the same dentist for the long term prevents fillings.

The 2008 National Dental benefits Conference

It was during the first day of the 2008 National Dental Benefits Conference in ADA Headquarters in Chicago that Maxwell H. Anderson DDS, the dental affairs advisor for DDPA, located in Oak Brook Illinois, announced that by data mining their proprietary dental claims over 11 years, Delta uncovered evidence-based information revealing that clients who change dentists regularly are likely to receive more fillings than those who stay in consistent “dental homes” where they are content.

Dr. Anderson told the audience of about a hundred dentists and dental industry representatives that “The greatest hazard to teeth is changing dentists.”

A Righteous Finding

I find it remarkable, as well as noble, that a managed care insurance company like Delta, based on preferred provider lists that are valid for only 12 months at a time, would voluntarily reveal findings that can only bring harm to their business model.

However, when one thinks about it, Delta’s results clearly make sense. If a patient or family of patients is comfortable with a dental team, they are more likely to keep their check-up appointments as well as take better care of their teeth at home. And, consequently, enjoy better health.

Perhaps Delta came to the righteous conclusion that to hide such landmark findings would be unethical?

Assessment

How do preferred-provider lists cause more fillings?

When dentists can rely on a dental care broker like Delta Dental for new patients, there is an inherent absence of accountability that occurs when guided by the invisible hand of competition in the marketplace, naturally. That is an undeniable fact. Managed care dentistry is dentistry by the lowest bidder with no quality control; also an undeniable fact.

Note: Dr. Pruitt, an attendee of the 2008 National Benefits Conference on August 14 and 15 in ADA Headquarters, is the sole proprietor of a fee-for-service dental practice in Fort Worth, Texas. He represents only himself for the benefit of dental patients. His name cannot be found on any preferred provider list. Report posted with permission.

Conclusion

Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated. Are this dentist’s “facts” and quality assessment true; please opine and comment?

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com  or Bio: www.stpub.com/pubs/authors/MARCINKO.htm

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