When we completed our annual review of dental PPO network trends based on the network data in NetMinder, two things really stood out:
- The average dentist participates in 8 of the top 15 national dental PPO networks.
- Since March 2011, the number of dentists in more than 11 networks has grown by 15 percentage points.
The driving force behind these numbers seems to be the proliferation of lease and swap arrangements in the dental benefits industry. A dentist joins a network and then that network is leased to several other carriers so the dentist is now in multiple networks.
These arrangements enable rapid network growth by adding large groups of dentists at a time and make it easier to match competitors. In the past, dental benefits companies partnered with network leasing companies, such as DenteMax or PPO USA. Now we are seeing carriers swap networks like United Concordia and DNoA.
Maximizing the overlap between carriers is a sound strategy in a market where takeover business is predominant. Since the 2014 NADP State of The Dental Benefits Market study shows that 61% of Americans have dental insurance, this seems like the right strategy for right now.
How are these larger dental PPO networks playing out in your book of business?