The worlds of health and dental insurance are always changing—often to the consternation and frustration of health care providers. Keeping track of requirements and policies is nearly a full-time job in most practices, consuming a great deal of time and energy. For good or ill, another major change is currently in process: health insurers are increasingly likely to offer dental plans bundled with their normal health insurance policies. While this shift has been building steadily over the last few years, it does represent a sea change for health insurers, dental insurers, and dental professionals alike.
So what does this mean, and what in particular does it mean for your dental practice. Let’s go over things by the numbers.
A Changing Landscape for Dental Insurers
Dental insurers have a lot to think about just now. Health insurance companies are bundling dental plans into their other policies with the goal of increased convenience for their clients—one product, one premium is the language often used. This theoretically saves the consumer time and money by simplifying both the payment and the paperwork. The issue is the future of dental-only providers, who find themselves in an increasingly competitive market with great pressure on each individual policy sale.
So what’s the future for dental-only providers? They’ll have to innovate, streamlining internal operations, and marketing themselves more aggressively. Strategic alliances with other insurance providers may be part of their solution, giving them greater flexibility and greater access to the marketplace. Their goal will have to be finding the spaces in the market that the more-expansive health insurance providers can’t fill and thus keeping their businesses and the policies they offer relevant.
Providers and Patients
Oral health care providers and their patients face a different set of issues as the insurance marketplace evolves. For some patients, there may be advantages to having health and dental insurance from the same provider in terms of reduced premiums and a simpler payment and policy process. For providers? Well, the situation is more complex.
The main advantage of a single provider policy for both health and dental comes on the logistical side. This opens up the opportunity for better coordination of care between dentists and doctors, which will in turn help treat the patient’s health issues in their entirety and lead to better patient outcomes overall. Ease of communication and coordination is a serious advantage, however it may come with some additional complications. The filing process, reimbursement, and patient premiums may muddy the waters with additional time and paperwork as oral health care providers have to learn to work with new insurers and a new type of insurance policy. This may or may not be a permanent state of being; things are evolving rapidly and it is virtually certain that future changes are in store.
What to Do Next?
Your next course of action depends on your role in the industry. Dental insurance providers will need to innovate, aggressively and thoroughly, in order to retain their standing in the market. They’ll want to look at all options for improvement and reinvention, both internal and external. While this is a challenging time, there are opportunities within it that shouldn’t be ignored.
For providers and patients, it’s an easier challenge but the basic guiding idea remains the same: adapt and innovate. Finding the right policy or policies, the right providers, and the right way to manage them is the name of the game. For patients, the goal is to get the best possible care at the best possible price, and the evolution of the insurance landscape may allow new possibilities there. For dental health care providers, now’s a good chance to look at your relationships with insurers and your internal practices for dealing with them. You may discover ways to streamline and simplify your workload while opening your practice to new patients with combined policies. It’s a challenging time, with both consumer demand and broader circumstances driving innovation. Ensuring you and your practice are head of the curve is vital to your continued success in the industry.
OmniStar is here to illuminate the blind spots on your road to success.