Dental benefits task force kicks off analysis phase

The CDA Dental Benefits Research Task Force has moved into the next phase of its efforts to identify strategies to enhance the position of providers and patients in the dental benefits marketplace.

At the request of the 2011 House of Delegates, the task force has been meeting nearly every month for the last year. Its work over that time has given the task force an in-depth look at the forces shaping the dental benefits and dental care delivery environment and has set the task force on the right track for analyzing next steps, said Walt Weber, DDS, chair of the dental benefits task force.

“We’re at a point where we’ve  done high-level research, discovered some key trends in the marketplace and studied the economic landscape, and now we’re beginning to look at creating some ways to explain to members what it all means to them and what strategies are available to assist them in the current environment,” Weber said.

Weber said there are a variety of things the task force is looking at and he made it clear the group is ratcheting up its discussions.

“But we also understand there is a limit to what we can do as an organization – we can’t change the business model of other companies, for example,” Weber said.

March Meeting

At its March meeting, the task force heard a presentation about an Electronic Fee Exchange concept by Richard Gagne, DDS, of Oxnard. Gagne’s idea for a computerized, web-based competitive dental fee “exchange” would function similar to a stock exchange model for dentists to contract with dental benefit companies. 

Weber said he appreciates the time Gagne put into the presentation and is happy the task force had the opportunity to hear it.

“These are uncertain times with the Affordable Care Act on the horizon, so the task force is looking at all possible solutions for the future. Thinking out-of-the-box and looking into different models is beneficial,” Weber said.

Also at its March meeting, the task force discussed the planned Delta Dental fee reduction and how a reduction in provider reimbursement rates in its Premier Plan later this year could affect members. The reduction is expected to be in the 8-12 percent range and will be based upon an assessment of each provider’s region and current fee filings, rather than a straight across-the-board cut.

“The task force had a good discussion about Delta, about what needs to happen to assure that dentists are fully informed and prepared to adjust to this planned fee reduction, and we will be factoring into the task force’s  recommendations things like this that are going to have such a huge impact on our members,” Weber said.

Members interested in the dental benefits research project can visit cda.org and click on the dental benefits task force link under “Advocacy.” Additionally, further resources on dental benefits can be found at cda.org/compass.

For more information on this or other dental payment issues, contact the CDA Practice Support Center at 866.232.6362.