Tuesday, October 14, 2014

DentaQuest Launches a New Series About Ancillary Benefits: Why This matters to Me

By Steve Pollock, Chief Operating Officer, DentaQuest

As we approach open enrollment this fall, millions of American’s will purchase and use health insurance for the first time, and dental management will be a key component of cost reduction strategies.

Between 2008 and 2010, the American healthcare system spent $2.7 billion on the more than 4 million patients who relied on hospital emergency rooms for help with dental conditions, many of which did not require immediate attention and could have been treated in a less costly dentist’s office. This unnecessary expense could be reduce or eliminated with proper dental management.

I am excited to launch my new blog series, Why this Matters to Me, an informational series to highlight how ancillary benefits, like dental and vision, are necessary to improve patient experiences, reduce the cost of care, and help health plans meet the new demands set forth by healthcare reform and increased regulation.
These strategies are especially important as the introduction of healthcare exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid allows many Americans to buy and use insurance for the first time.  Here are just some of the numbers:

As many as 8 million adults will gain dental benefits through Medicaid expansion Health insurance enrollment through the federal and state marketplaces is expected to quadruple to 28 million consumers by 2023. In the first year of health reform, 21 percent of all consumers on the federal exchange purchased stand-alone dental plans.

Oral health affects medical care in countless ways, and there are valuable opportunities for the two areas of healthcare delivery to collaborate more closely for the benefit of providers, patients and healthcare organizations.

The shifting healthcare landscape presents us with a perfect opportunity to explore strategies that will improve the delivery of care in a more efficient way. Below are a few examples of the types of topics I’ll cover in this series:
  • Emergency Room Diversion: Too often, people rely on emergency rooms for dental problems that could be prevented and treated through regular visits to the dentist. At DentaQuest, we understand that preventive dental services mitigate the frequency of emergency room visits and that fewer emergency room visits reduce the cost of healthcare for patients and institutions. I’ll explore the innovative ways we are reducing reliance on emergency rooms, such as the DentaQuest Institute’s Early Childhood Caries (ECC) Collaborative that seeks to reduce dental surgery through education.
  • Medical Dental Integration: Periodontal disease, a type of dental disease, produces inflammation throughout a person’s body, which affects their ability to manage and combat chronic disease.  Aligning medical and dental professionals to provide coordinated care for patients can lead to better disease management and thus reduced costs.
  • Using Ancillary Benefits as a Strategy for Growth: In this changing market, consumers are demanding greater value at reduced costs while regulations are creating even more strain on margins. I will explore the advantages of using dental as a strategy to grow market share and provide great value in your offerings. 
The ACA continues to significantly influence the ways in which today’s consumers purchase, view and seek healthcare services. As a result, we must adjust the way we think about providing and funding healthcare. In that vein, I look forward to engaging in a conversation about how integrating dental benefits can make the healthcare industry more efficient and effective for all of us.