Dental Marketing Dilemma: Orthodontist in Local Newspaper

Dental marketing dilemma: bad press in newspaperWhen it comes to dental marketing, not all press is good press. Just ask the orthodontist who was recently featured in the Chicago Tribune’s “What’s Your Problem?” section.

The newspaper has recently covered a mother’s plight to have her son’s braces removed.

According to the woman, the orthodontist refused to remove the teen’s braces until the family settled a mysterious $300 bill for missed visits. Her two daughters had seen the same doctor, and the family had paid the orthodontic practice a total of about $12,000 over the years.

The dispute occurred in January, and involved the office filing a police report against the mother (for charges she denies). She contacted the newspaper in July. Now that it’s been featured in the paper, the boy’s dental braces are off.

The orthodontist expressed bewilderment over the whole thing. According to the practice, there is no $300 balance due, and the boy would have been welcome in at any time.

It’s not clear what really happened – but it is clear that the orthodontist doesn’t come out looking so good in the local paper!

Read more: Mom not smiling over dental dispute

Private Equity Dental Management Companies Come Under Fire

Private Equity Dental Management Companies Come Under FirePrivate Equity dental management companies are at the center of a U.S. Senate inquiry, audits, investigations and civil actions in six states over allegations of unnecessary procedures, low-quality treatment and the unlicensed practice of dentistry, according to a report released by Bloomberg News.

Federal lawmakers and state regulators are trying to determine whether a popular dental practice model funded by Wall Street is having a destructive influence on dentistry in the U.S.

The private equity dental companies only account for about 12,000, or 8%, of U.S. dental practices, according to Thomas A. Climo, a Las Vegas dental consultant.

In 2010, The Wealthy Dentist reported that All Smiles Dental Center Inc., a management company owned by Chicago-based Valor Equity Partners, filed for bankruptcy protection after a Texas Medicaid action cut off reimbursement payments because of their exorbitant amounts of orthodontic care at the expense of Texas taxpayers.

All Smiles was part of a state audit that discovered 90% of the Medicaid claims for orthodontic braces weren’t medically needed.

After years of criticism that the poor were being deprived of dental care under Medicaid, class-action lawsuits and public pressure forced Medicaid to change their health care reimbursements. As reported by The Wealthy Dentist in our story, Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas, some Texas’ dental practices went on to bill Medicaid $184 million for Medicaid orthodontics — more than the rest of the United States combined.

M. Alec Parker, executive director of the North Carolina Dental Society told Bloomberg News that the private equity industry stepped up its investments in dental management over the last 5 years partly because health care was one of the few areas that grew through the recession.

According to the Bloomberg report, Christine Ellis, a Dallas orthodontist, who testified before Congress in April of this year reported that the “flagrancy of the fraud” she found in audits she performed for Texas Medicaid “is truly unbelievable,” with only 10% of the paid claims she reviewed actually qualifying for Medicaid coverage.

Ellis told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that Texas “has gained a lot of fraudulent orthodontic providers, including many private equity owned dental clinics engaged in the illegal practice of dentistry.”

Medicaid's Dental Boom - Bloomberg News

This May North Carolina is considering legislation that would subject agreements between dentists and the companies to state approval over concerns brought about by the the practices of private equity dental practices.

The Wealthy Dentist twice reported on the North Carolina Senate Bill 655 that would require the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners to examine all business contracts entered into by dental practices in their state.

Our first article, Dentists Beware: The Government May Want To Tell You How To Manage Your Practice detailed information concerning inclusive authority over how dentists manage their business.

The second The Wealthy Dentist article, Dental Practice Management: North Carolina Senate Bill Wants Dentists To Do It Themselves discussed dentist responses to the impact this bill could have on their dental practices.

The measure has already passed the state Senate and has moved on to the House, where leaders have appointed a special interim committee to study the bill and its potential repercussions to dentists.

Reports have surfaced that the legislative proposal likely to be heard this month. The basics of the bill is intended to restrict contracts dentists can build with dental service organizations and give the Dental Board control of how dentists in North Carolina run their practices.

The North Carolina Dental Society supports the bill, stating that dental management companies often bill dental patients for unneeded care and opponents insist that passage of the bill will only drive up dental care costs.

What are your thoughts on private equity dental management practices?

For more on this story see: Dental Abuse Seen Driven by Private Equity Investments

Dentist Referrals: Dental Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry & Braces

Dentist Referrals: Dental Implants, Cosmetic Dentistry & BracesDentists tend to restore dental implants but refer out dental implant surgery, this survey found.

The average dentist often refers out braces, sedation dentistry, and root canals, while keeping cosmetic dentistry, and denture patients.

Related Story: Dentists: What procedures do you refer out?

When it comes to pediatric dentistry and gum disease, dentists refer some patients out and treat others in house.

Related Story: How Dentists Refer Wisdom Teeth Cases to Oral Surgeons

Overall, the average dentist refers out less than 20% of patients.

Related Story: Root Canal Referrals: Dentists vs. Endodontists

Here are some dentist comments on referring patients:

Read more:

The Average Cost of Braces: Orthodontists Charge More (video)

braces cost more from orthodontists videoThe Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey that asked dentists what they charge for braces, and how much dental braces cost on average. This survey found that general dentists charge an average of $5,040 for orthodontic work, while orthodontists charge about $5,600 dollars.

The cost of braces tends to be higher that what patients want to pay and lower than what dentists want to receive.

A Washington orthodontist wrote, “Over the past thirty years, the cost of braces has kept pace with cost of living increases. Thankfully, technology has allowed greater efficiency and consequently, reasonable profitability for the orthodontist and a good price for the consumer.”

Click on play to watch the video –

  • Do different orthodontic treatments cost different amounts?

Yes, but less than you might think. Adult braces and Invisalign costs were about equal in this survey. Teen braces (on average) cost a few hundred dollars more.

  • Are prices the same across the US?

You will find the most affordable braces in the American west. Dental braces cost the most in the Northeast, the Pacific and Canada. The reason is simply regional price differences.

For more on this survey see: Braces Cost More from an Orthodontist

Invisalign Cost: Invisalign Braces Fee Analysis

According to the Invisalign website, the national average cost for Invisalign treatment ranges from $3,500 to $8,000, with the national average at about $5,000.

The Wealthy Dentist conducted a survey to determine what dentists and orthodontists are charging for Invisalign.

The results from the survey revealed that Invisalign treatment costs an average of $4,622 when provided by a dentist and $6.945 when treated by a specialist.

“We adjust our cost according to how long treatment takes. Times can range from 5 – 18 months (rarely more). We are willing to “deal” on Invisalign because the actual Dr. time is so minimal,” reported a Minnesota dentist.

The cost of Invisalign treatment is on average $500 higher than the cost for regular braces treatment. The dentists who responded to this survey noted that the higher cost reflects the lab fee that they pay for the Invisalign trays.

Here’s a sample of what dentists had to say about the cost of Invisalign treatment:

“I take into consideration material cost of impressions for both initial and refinement, the lab cost and shipping. We charge $5,000 for a full treatment.” (Georgia dentist)

“I have wrestled with the most appropriate fee levels for Invisalign for a long time. We have historically kept the cost of a ‘full’ treatment a bit higher than traditional orthodontia. Although the ‘full’ treatment cost is $5800 — I charge $3200 for express.” (Washington orthodontist)

“Specialists usually get ‘tougher’ cases, so they charge more. We have three fee structures for simple, medium, and complex.” (California dentist)

“My Invisalign rep suggests that I should lower my fees or offer financing that takes a bite out of my profit due to the economy, but I don’t see them lowering their lab fees to me!” (Illinois dentist)

“I hate how high the lab fee is!” (General dentist)

“Invisalign pre-treatment of prosthetic cases greatly reduces the complexity and cost of many restorative challenges. Talk about a revenue enhancer! Invisalign is the best thing this GP has added to the bag of tricks in the last 4 years!” (Florida dentist)

“I am thinking of lowering my fees to compete with the general dentists in the area …” (Oregon orthodontist)

“Clear Choice is much lower in cost to the dentist (and the cost savings can be passed along to the patient). Clear Choice appears to be just as good, if not better than Invisalign. I’m so fed up with Invisalign and our local rep is not very helpful either.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

“Our cost includes whitening and first set of retainers, which we make in house.” (Connecticut dentist)

“There is no free lunch!” (Ohio dentist)

For more on this survey see: Fees for Invisalign Treatment Average $4,622 – $6.945

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