From the Editor
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Happy New Year from everyone at Inside Dentistry! As we kick off 2008, we begin with an in-depth look at a relevant and timely topic—dental insurance. As healthcare providers, it is imperative that we each stop to examine this issue as well as the associated issues surrounding it, and we hope to begin that discussion in this month’s feature presentation. We hope that you will join us in the discussion as well by sending us your feedback and thoughts on the presentation.
Challenges and Opportunities. As we, like so many others before us, point out, there are more than 100 million people in this country who do not have any form of dental insurance. Many of these people have no way to pay for treatment at all. This not only puts the oral health of these people at a tremendous disadvantage—study after study reveals the direct correlation between regular dental visits with good oral health—it also puts dentists at a disadvantage because there are entire populations of potential patients that are not coming into our practices for treatment. However, the number of patients coming into our practices with a dental insurance card in their hands can mean a reduced fee for a dentist, as well as the challenge of getting reimbursed for that fee. A number of large insurance companies are making great strides to improving their services to both dentists and patients, and we’ll meet several of those companies in our presentation.
Research, Research, Research. While the dental profession has known about this for some time, one of the fronts being explored from the insurance industry standpoint right now is the oral–systemic link that is becoming better established as time goes on. For insurance companies offering both health and dental insurance this link is very interesting indeed, because it is becoming more apparent that if oral health is improved and maintained, the long-term costs of treating patients with systemic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and the risks of complications associated with pregnancy, may ultimately be reduced. From the dental insurance benefit viewpoint, it is an investment to pay for dental treatment now if it helps stave off expensive medical treatment later. For dental professionals, the time has come to stand in the same stead as our medical professional counterparts. Working together, we can all render excellent treatment and help to reduce the skyrocketing costs of healthcare—costs that make it very difficult for our patients to access the healthcare system at all—across the board.
Protecting Your Interests. Understandably, there are pros and cons in participating in a dental insurance plan, and those are going to be different for each practitioner as well as each practice. It’s a practice management decision that should be weighed carefully and preferably with the assistance of well-qualified experts in the field. But in order to capitalize on the large base of patients who will only seek dental treatment if they can use their dental insurance to pay for it, it is certainly something worth looking into for the benefit of your patients and your practice.
We hope that you enjoy this issue and find the feature presentation on dental insurance informative. Again, our hope is to begin an ongoing discussion on this topic, and we at Inside Dentistry would welcome your thoughts and opinions, as we could follow up this discussion in future issues. Please send us your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our readers are our motivation to continually enhance our clinical content and coverage of today’s topics of interest. Thank you for reading, and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous New Year!
With warm regards,
Gerard Kugel, DMD, MS, PhD
Associate Dean for Research
Tufts University School of Dental Medicine
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