Last weekend I was in a most excellent advanced orthodontic program and had a great time learning, however, all the fun was dashed away when I started to talk to some of the dentists there and how they were faring. One of them was very happy to report that he was booked up for months on end and could not fit in another patient if he had to. My response to that was not the usual: Way to go! My response was: What insurance companies do you participate with? As it turns out, this guy participated with Delta dental, and so did a number of the other dentists at the conference. When I asked how much they have to discount, they all responded the same: around 40-60%. I was floored! I was shocked!
Dear readers, if someone told you that you would be paid 40-60% less than you were paid last year, how would you feel? Upset? Angry? Would you feel like one of the deplorables? I sure would! So when I got over the shock from these doctors telling me all this, I asked them if it was worth it and if there were any alternatives. One of them said retirement would be their only solution. Another said there was no way around it because they lived in a small town. Someone else said it’s time to find a new profession. In other words, the insurance companies have now clamped down so hard on these dentists that they see no way out- they have to discount their fees so very much just to stay in the game. And that’s a shame!
What this means is that these dentists will never be able provide Christmas bonuses for their staff members, or for themselves. This means these dentists will not be able to upgrade equipment and improve their training and services like they used to be able to do. What it means is a slow and steady decline in the quality of care they are providing to their patients. And that is the real shame of it all! Let me give you an analogy. These discount programs are kind of like eating at a fast food restaurant- sure, you save money, but your health is slowly being eroded over time because there really is no value to what you are eating- and we all know this to be true! So what happens in the future? Who is responsible for the erosion of the dental health care in our society? Is it the government, is it the insurance companies? Or are WE, the subscribers to the insurance, the ones who should be criticized for choosing the cheapest option?
In a strange new world where we are all required to pay more, get less, and are forced to cut corners, should we be forced to cut back on our oral health? That is a decision to be left for the politicians I would guess, but my feeling is that they are probably the worst ones to make that choice!