I just returned from the National Association of Dental Plans annual conference in Phoenix, AZ. In addition to catching up on industry trends and meeting with many of our clients, I was asked to moderate a roundtable session on counting providers. The discussion generated interesting dialogue about dental PPO network growth, provider turnover, and sub-leasing of networks.
- Dental PPO networks continue to grow at double-digit rates year over year. Even as penetration of the dental universe passed 40%, the group didn’t see growth topping out anytime soon. The economy is encouraging providers to keep joining networks to replace lost income from fewer cosmetic procedures.
- Turnover is not a big issue for dental plans. Dentists usually stick with the plan unless something major (significant loss of membership or drop in fees) happens.
- Dentists who join networks are increasingly getting “leased out” to other plans as part of network rental arrangements. They often end up seeing patients from plans they didn’t actually join. I thought this might be a confusing or annoying issue for dentists, but the group felt that the dentists and their staffs were handling it well, and that it was a non-issue.
Let me know if you agree with these trends or if you’re seeing something different in your market.