Dental Editorial: Health Care Reform Discussion Among Dentists

Health Care Reform Discussion Among Dentists

Health care reform and dentistry discussionLast week I shared some thoughts about health care reform and dentistry – specifically, how government-sponsored prophy exams could be good for dentists.

Wow, did you dentists ever have a lot to say about that! The blog exploded with comments.

I already shared my opinion; now let’s review some of what dentists had to say…

Theory vs. Practice

“Well Jim, in theory, it sounds good. In practice, I think we will find that patients don’t appreciate or value something they do not pay for.

“I do agree with your case presentation and solid financial arrangement idea. If you don’t collect the $ up front, before the patient sits in the chair, you just might find the chair empty more times than not.”
– Brad Bradford

“Will the mindset be, ‘because I get my cleanings for free, I don’t have to spend time on it at home? The dentist/hygienist does it best anyway.’ It’s hard to change an attitude (ie that toward oral health) especially if there was no motivation to begin with.

As Brad puts it, it’s a great theory, but we need an analysis of all the possible outcomes to better damage control any negative possibilities of such a program..
– Caroline Rubino

“I belong to a program that pays for low income pregnant women to have free cleanings and exams… Not one of these patients has returned for treatment unless they were in severe pain. Good idea in theory maybe, but not in practice. People who are health aware will seek out treatment whether it is free or not.”
– Bradley Schultz

Dentist costs could run high

“The government return would be $2 to $3 initially per patient. To schedule, an hour appt for someone not showing up would be a loss for all. The government plan could just as easily be more costly for the dentist.”
– Robert Deaver

“I’m certain the government will not be willing to pay for appropriate treatment. I am equally certain they will be happy to dictate we provide services at a financial loss.”
– Donald Bennett

What about the expanded duty hygienists?

“I think you’ve got something with possibilities, Jim… as long as it is limited to prophys and the bureaucracy doesn’t eat up the profits that belong to the expanded duty hygienists who will be graduating soon.”;
– D. Kellus Pruitt DDS

People value what they pay for

“Free dental care will not help our nation become healthier or value health.”
– Dr. John C. Workman

“Jim – this is just the type of patient we are trying to rid ourselves of. People who get something for nothing find no value there. We’ve been providing care for patients on the state public programs. The failure rate for appointments in hygiene is unreal! The down time is not worth it, especially if you only get half your normal fees. And if they can’t pay for their cleanings, how will they pay for the work they need done. They are used to having their lifestyles subsidized for everything. Why would they pay out of pocket full fees to fix their teeth?”
– C. Roberts

“Our experience with those who get free prophy and exam is horrible. Missed appointments, failure to return, etc. Like the dental insurance mindset, if it isn’t covered in full, forget about it, is how these people think. Been there, done that. The next step is to reduce reimbursements repeatedly since all us doctors are too rich anyway.”
– P. Bochiechio

In defense of government-sponsored care

“I am a pediatric dentist who accepts state Medicaid but also has many private pay patients. Yes, Medicaid has a higher cancelation rate, but the patients in general are unbelievably grateful for your service. In my state Medicaid pays for all tx. Will pts convert from free prophy pts to fee for service restorative pts? I don’t know but I will certainly try… I will be happy to collect up the governments money as others tell you all the reasons why they can’t or won’t do it.”
– Greg

“Hey! Is not most of your practice indemnity insurance patients that get a ‘free’ cleaning every 6 months? What is the difference if their employer paid or the government plan?”
– Joanne


About Jim Du Molin

+Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.

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