Cigna is introducing online tools next year to help dental plan customers find a dentist, schedule an appointment and budget for the cost of dental care. The tools are being launched through a license with Brighter Inc.
The Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey found that nearly half of Americans have at least once gone three or more years without dental care. Dentists should reach out to lapsed patients with e-mail, direct mail or a phone call and remind them of how important dental care is, says dentist Bill Kohn, who is vice president of dental science and policy at the Delta Dental Plans Association. Dentists should not be afraid to discuss costs and should take advantage of dental insurers' programs to reach patients at risk for dental issues, Kohn said.
People who get regular dental care are more likely to report a sense of well-being than people who do not, and employees with dental benefits are more likely to get regular preventive care, a Delta Dental survey found. Lower-income employees are less likely than those with high incomes to obtain dental care, but plans can provide educational material highlighting the benefits of coverage, particularly for those who have not seen a dentist recently, says Darci Shaw, Delta Dental Plans Association's associate director of marketing communications.
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission canceled a contract and the state attorney general's office filed a lawsuit against Xerox, claiming that it had paid millions of dollars for medically unnecessary dental work under Medicaid. A Xerox subsidiary called Texas Medicaid & Healthcare Partnership was under contract to process Medicaid dental claims. The company denies engaging in "fraudulent activity."
A new 2.3% tax on sales of medical devices will eventually be passed on to consumers, including patients receiving dental and orthodontic care, according to some dentists and orthodontists. Moreover, a $2,500 cap on pre-tax savings for medical costs will hurt patients already struggling to afford care, they say. "The Affordable Care Act is ... making orthodontics less affordable rather than more affordable," said American Association of Orthodontists President John Buzzatto.