For the past 20 years at Smileboston Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, we have been a proud Delta Dental provider and have had the opportunity to treat many wonderful patients insured by Delta Dental. As Delta is making serious changes to their company, I think it is important for my team and patients to be aware of these changes and understand what is happening, as it happens. In the long run, it is important to have conversations with your human resources department, your dentist and your family to consider all the implications.
Last December, Delta sent out a letter to all providers under their plans, with an URGENT label and a return due date of December 31, 2016; it appeared to be a common re-credentialing letter that we receive every few years. However, this letter very subtly detailed major changes in their policies, and I believe they sent the letter this way to hide serious facts about major changes they had decided to impose for the future.
They let us know that Delta will be reorganizing their corporate structure, and that they are changing from a “not-for-profit organization” to a “for-profit” company. This is a major change and one that will have a great impact on your individual policy. This means they are not subjected to the rules of the insurance commission and can, by their own admission, create and change rules whenever they see the need. At this time, we do not know exactly how this will impact your plan, but we do know, as they have stated, these changes are intended to increase their profits regardless of how it affects patients, employers, or dentists. I am saddened by the way Delta has introduced this new company. In my opinion, Delta has not been transparent during this process and is using its marketplace dominance to intimidate dentists and employers.
As you may know, Delta Dental is the largest provider of dental benefits in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, representing 30–40% of employee benefits and individual dental insurance plans. Over the years, they have been a fantastic organization to work with, and have provided a reasonable benefit to our patients who have subscribed to their plans. We do not know specifically what all of these changes are, but we do expect that Delta Dental will attempt to dictate your healthcare based upon their profits.
As my patients know, I am not an alarmist. However, I am afraid that Delta Dental’s new PPO plan poses a serious threat to the quality of care delivered to patients.
One major change to the Delta Dental plan, is that in-network dentists will now only be able to refer patients to Delta’s in-network specialists. This means that dentists who remain on the plan, will not have the ability to send patients to the specialists of choice, who we believe provide the best care. Note that one-third of all Massachusetts dentists have not re-signed the new contract.
As dentists, in my office as well as my many colleagues, we want to spend quality time educating and building relationships with our patients. This has always been and will remain my priority, and is the foundation of all our providers and the Smileboston Experience. Dentistry is both an art and science and it cannot be manipulated without compromising the quality of care.
Rest assured, if you currently have Delta Dental insurance, your ability to see your dentist at Smileboston will not be affected. The dental community has banded together and is in communication with state representatives, the Department of Insurance and Delta Dental in working to come to an amicable resolution, and I will keep you apprised of the situation as it progresses. Should you have any questions or concerns, please contact me, or a member of our front office team.
Dr. Steven D. Spitz