Taxpayers Footing the Bill for Braces in Texas

the house that braces built WFAA-TVThe business of charging taxpayers for putting braces on kids’ teeth has exploded in Texas over the last three years according to a story by WFAA-TV in Dallas.

In 2010, Texas spent $184 million on Medicaid orthodonticsmore than the rest of the United States combined.

I want you to understand, right up front, that I’m tremendous proponent of just about any program that put dollars in dentist’s pocket for providing quality dental care. Time to be honest, this level of government pork could only have been arranged in a smoked filled back room in the dead of night.

While Texas struggles with its Medicaid budget, 34 dental organizations collected more than $1 million in Medicaid orthodontics last year.

Orthodontic treatment for children is generally an elective cosmetic procedure that many parents spend thousands of dollars on for their children. Very few dental insurance carriers cover orthodontics or elective procedures such as teeth whitening.

But in Texas, Medicaid pays dentists for orthodontics per procedure, instead of a lump sum for the “finished mouth” of straight teeth, according to WFAA-TV. This has made Medicaid orthodontia a lucrative dental business in Texas.

So much so that just three years ago, dentist Richard Malouf’s All Smiles Dental Centers of Texas collected $5.4 million from Medicaid orthodontics. Since that time, All Smiles’ Medicaid orthodontics billings nearly doubled to $10.2 million. This caught the interest of Chicago-based hedge fund Equity Partners who recently acquired All Smiles Dental for an undisclosed sum.

Now Texas dental clinics are being bought up by hedge funds, making Wall Street the ultimate destination for millions of taxpayer dollars as reported by WFAA.

The following is a video of WFAA’s investigative report –

Nowhere is the lucrative business of Medicaid braces more evident than with dentist Richard Malouf’s mansion in Dallas. It is a massive French chateau with a pool house, big enough for the average American family of four to live in. The Maloufs also own the mansion next door. According to tax records the combined value of the two properties is more than $14 million.

It is known as the house that braces built.

Dr. Malouf isn’t alone in offering Medicaid braces; there are five other dentists’ offices that provide Medicaid orthodontia on the same half-mile street in Dallas. Many of them advertise free braces under Medicaid. Jefferson Dental is one such dental operation and, according to WFAA, it is owned by hedge fund Black Canyon Capital of California.

During a struggling economy, many question whether this is the best use of taxpayer dollars. A Medicaid dollar that is spent on braces is a Medicaid dollar not being spent on fighting cavities and procedures most dentists feel are necessary.

It will be interesting to see how this story unfolds. I really want to see the which legislators initiated and signed off on this this piece of legislation and who the lobbyist where who pushed it through.

I not sure other state dental boards should hire them or hang them?

For more on this story see: Tax Money for Unneeded Braces Goes to Hedge Funds

Dental Practice Management: North Carolina Senate Bill Wants Dentists To Do It Themselves

Senate ruling on dental practice managementLast week in our post, Dentists Beware: The Government May Want To Tell You How To Manage Your Practice, we reported on the story of the North Carolina Senate and Senate Bill 655, which would require the North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners to examine all business contracts entered into by dental practices in their state.

Dr. Clifton Cameron, a dentist in North Carolina reported to the Fay Observer that, “Senate Bill 655 would give the Dental Board complete control of how dentists in North Carolina run their practices so they can keep fees charged to patients artificially high and insurance acceptance artificially low.”

We wrote that we couldn’t find the reasoning behind such a move by the NC Senate and Board of Dental Examiners, but the Board did post the following to their website:

“The Board has become increasingly concerned about the expanding scope and nature of management company services and agreements, and their impact on the control of dental practices by the licensed dentists.

The bundled services offered by management companies typically involve some combination of (1) administrative management services; and (2) financial management services.

Based on its knowledge of the operations of dental practices, and after reviewing management arrangements with dental practices for almost ten (10) years, the Board has identified features of management arrangements which it has determined to be highly likely to create a situation where the ownership, management, supervision or control of a dental practice is impermissibly conveyed to an unlicensed person or organization because either separately or when bundled, those features interfere with the licensed dentists’ professional decision-making and their exercise of clinical skill, judgment and supervision in the dental practice.”

After we ran our original story, several doctors commented. A New Jersey dentist wrote:

“In New Jersey, the state board already forbids outside management. My partner and I spend about 20-30 per week running my business instead of on continuing education or, patient care.

The real argument isn’t whether or not I could be one of the practices recruited by management companies, but the unfair advantage it would bring to my practice over anothers’. Lower overhead, decreased fees, increased insurance acceptance, large marketing budgets would destroy competition and lower practice values and access to care.

Management companies specify laboratory selection, supply selection, employee selection, and continuing education budgets. While they bring lower overhead, they take money from the practice as well. If you fail to be attractive, your practice cannot contract with them.

Giving this advantage to a small percentage of dentists is unfair to the majority of dentists that do not wish to join or would not be accepted. I have 10 dentists within a 0.5 mile radius. We can’t all be Aspen Dental Centers. The other 9 practices would suffer, and that wouldn’t be fair.

This is about the only aspect of dental life in New Jersey that makes practicing here worthwhile. Defeat it. Resist, North Carolina!”

Another dentist responded with:

“Have they gone mad over there? Sounds like there’s something they are not telling us about…It sounds like the insurance companies are in bed with the politicians again….”

Indeed, it could be a game changer that would impact North Carolina dentists and how they manage their dental practices. The North Carolina Office of Research, Demonstrations and Rural Health Development reports that there is already a severe shortage of primary health care providers in North Carolina, particularly in the State’s rural areas.

But perhaps this isn’t about patient care at all — or making dental practices transparent.  Perhaps this is about lawmakers just playing politics.

Do You Have The Best Dental Sign? See Who Thinks Theirs is Better!

the wealthy dentist dental signage contest

In this article, we are featuring a few of the top contenders in our contest for the best dental practice office sign, display window or office front.

Do you think you have the best dental sign?

Does your dental office front kick butt?

Well, what are you waiting for?

Take a picture and enter The Wealthy Dentist Dental Practice Office Sign, Display Window or Front Picture Contest!

Hurry! We are still accepting submissions through June 30th.

Here are the most notable entries to date:

1. Jayhawk Dental

Window –

Signage –

Jayhawk Dental Sign

2.  Biderman Dentistry

Signage –

Biderman dental sign contest

3.  Boger Dental

Window dressing and signage –

Boger Dental Sign

4.  Marina – Pacific Dental

Window dressing,  signage and front office –

Marina Pacific Heights Dental

So come on!

Enter your dental office sign or office front for a chance to win a Cisco Flip. Just submit a photo of your dental sign or office front by emailing chughes(at)drs1.com before midnight on June 30th.


Dental Signage tutorialDesigning The $1,000,000 Dental Sign

Everything you need to know to design and position your sign – even tips on how to pick the best location for a new dental facility.

Dentists Prefer Facebook For Their Dental Marketing

Dentists Prefer Facebook For Their Dental MarketingFacebook has turned into a popular dental marketing tool for dentists to attract more dental patients.

9 out of 10 dentists use Facebook as their preferred place to network online.

While Facebook is facing criticism over their often-disputed privacy policies, most of the dentists using Facebook use it for both professional  and personal networking.

“We are at the beginning stages of our Facebook dental marketing. We are using it as an informational, personable and promotional platform. We are giving our patients useful information, keeping them updated on what is new in our office, and giving away prizes for liking our page. We also give patients $5 off their services when they check in! responded one dentist.

The Wealthy Dentist decided to survey dentists to ask what sort of social networking they do online, and whether it was for personal or business purposes.

Dentist use of social media

Dentists use the following social networking sites professionally –

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Blog
  • Google Plus

And for personal use?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Google Plus
  • LinkedIn and blogging were used the least

Here are some dentist comments:

“We have a business Facebook page which does well for us. I update it regularly and have a couple staff that like to write updates on the wall, too.” (Ohio prosthodontist)

“I haven’t yet figured out what to make of Twitter.” (General dentist)

“I still prefer word-of-mouth recommendations most of all.” (Arizona dentist)

“I really do not have the time or inclination to follow through with these media platforms.” (Massachusetts dentist)

With Facebook about to make a public of offering, which is estimated to bring in about 10 billion dollars, it is time for just about every dental practice that is serious about dental marketing to get on the Facebook bus!

Dental Marketing: Free Beer and Wine! What next – Topless Hygiene?

dental marketing with alcohol

Is serving free beer and wine the next big trend in dental marketing?

ABCNews reports that dentist Clint Herzog of Dallas, Texas, likes to serve beer and wine to dental patients in the waiting room at his “Floss Now” dentistry.

For years hair salons have been offering coffee, tea or wine as part of the whole ‘spa’ experience. Is this part of the fad towards ‘spa dentistry‘ – but with a Texas spin?

“I really got tired of people not liking to go to the dentist saying, ‘Hey I don’t like to go to the dentist no offense! ‘ Well it’s kind of an offense because it’s what we do all day,” explains Herzog.

So he created Floss Dental and began sending out a mailer offering “free spirits with a cleaning” to encourage nervous dental patients into calling and making an appointment with his dentist office.

Some dentists have an espresso machine in the reception area. But do you really want someone jacked up on caffeine in your dental chair? How does he like working on patients with beer breath?

Is there a two drink limit? Or a minimum treatment fee? Is this a new kind of sedation dentistry? How does this mix with nitrous oxide (laughing gas)? Or even triazolam?

Dr. Herzog shares more of this dental marketing story in the following video –

What do you think about this type of dental marketing?

Would you serve alcohol to some of your best dental patients?

For more on this story see: Texas Dentist Serves Cocktails With Cleanings

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