You Know the Drill! Our Annual Dental Survey Part II

California’s top dental providers answer crucial questions about their benefits, features and services.

Welcome to Part I I of California Broker’s 2014 Dental Survey. We’ve asked the top dental providers in California to answer 28 crucial questions to better help you, the agent, understand their benefits, features, and services. Read the responses and sell accordingly.

11. How many provider offices have you lost over the past year? If asked, will you provide the names and phone numbers of at least three of these offices?

Aetna: In 2013, we lost 1.9% or providers in our DMO network and 1% in our PPO network. This is the voluntary termination rate. We are not at liberty to provide specific dentist information, such as names and phone numbers.

Aflac: Aflac Dental has no provider networks. Policyholders have the freedom to choose any dentist without restriction.

Ameritas PPO: 12,171 provider access points were lost (Ameritas = 3,808, FDH = 8,363). Yes, we would provide names, if requested.

Anthem Blue Cross: In the past 12 months, our Dental Prime and Dental Complete networks have grown significantly and less than 1 percent of dentists have terminated participation (primarily through retirement or death). Anthem does not make it a practice to provide names and phone numbers of dental offices that have left the network.

BEN-E-LECT: For all plans combined, the turnover is less than 2%. Many offices have been terminated due to lack of meeting credentialing standards, retirement or death of the provider. BEN-E-LECT does maintain the information for these offices; however it is not common practice to release the information.

BEST Life: (First Dental Health (FDH) and DenteMax: We have no control of this number. However, our provider locations have actually increased a total of 11,398 locations in the past 12 months. Less than 2.5% of providers have left our PPO networks in the past 12 months. The majority of these terminations are due to a provider’s retirement, death or the moving or closing of a practice. We maintain a clean and thorough network that involves regular network clean-ups.

For the sake of privacy, our network does not share such information for the purpose of a general interview. Our networks also focus on growth. Our national network has added 249 access points in California in May 2014.

Blue Shield: Dental PPO: For 2012, the voluntary turnover rate (excluding deaths, retirements and practice relocations) was less than 1%.

Dental HMO: For 2012, the voluntary turnover rate (excluding deaths, retirements and proactive relocations) was 2%. If requested, Blue Shield can provide the names and phone numbers of at least 3 offices that have left our network within the past 12 months.

BRIGHTER: Brighter maintains a high retention rate of 97% annually.

Cigna: Cigna’s dental network turnover rates have been lower than published industry average data. Dentist and dental office information can be shared with clients and brokers if required.

Delta Dental: Nationally, the dentist locations for our Delta Dental Premier network increased by 10.7%; our Delta Dental PPO network increased by 14.35%; and our DHMO network increased by 9.69% general dentist facilities. In California, there were 270 Premier terminations and 311 PPO terminations. Delta Dental does not release specific information on its contracted dentists.

Dental Health Services: Although roughly 5% of participating dentists have been lost over the past 12 months, our overall network size has made up for this and has increased by 5% over the previous year through a focus on seeking out only the most qualified dentists while improving accessibility and availability. The names and phone numbers of all offices are available on request.

Guardian: Guardian has a 97% network retention rate.

Health Net Dental: In 2013, our DHMO turnover rate for voluntary terms was 0.67% and our PPO turnover rate was 0.25%. We do not release specific information on our contracted dentists.

HumanaDental: In the past 12 months, there were 97 providers termed in California, including 5 due to not meeting our credentialing requirements. We do not provide the names and phone numbers of termed offices.

Principal Financial Group: Less than 5%.

Securian Dental: Very few providers choose to leave the DenteMax network. Less than 3 percent of our network dentists discontinue participation with DenteMax every year. The majority of these terminations are due to a provider’s retirement or death or the moving or closing of a practice. We would be willing to provide names and phone numbers of terminated offices upon request.

United Concordia: In California, we grew our PPO network from 15,800 individual dentists and 37,833 access points to 16,240 dentists and 41,168 access points. In addition, our DHMO network of primary dental offices remains consistent with just over 1,652 primary dental offices. Yes, if requested, we can provide the names and phone numbers of dental offices that no longer participate in our network.

Western Dental: Turnover is about 3% for the past year. Yes, we will provide the names and phone numbers for 3 of these offices, if requested.

12.What percentage of your network is closed to new enrollment? How many offices does this represent?

Aetna: For California, approximately 4% of our DMO participating providers are closed to new patients. All of our PPO providers are open to new patients.

Aflac: Aflac Dental has no provider networks. Policyholders may visit any dentist they choose.

Ameritas PPO: Only 106 Ameritas Offices and 26 FDH Offices are closed to new enrollment. This represents approximately 0.2%.

Anthem Blue Cross: Our Dental Prime and Dental Complete network model is open-access, and we do not contractually require providers to report on new-patient status. We have not heard reports of any members having issues with finding a participating dentist that is open to new patients.

BEN-E-LECT: All of BEN-E-LECT’s dental PPO providers are accepting new patients. For the DHMO product, less than 3% of the offices are closed to new enrollment representing approximately 60 offices.

BEST Life: All participating PPO dentists are accepting new patients.

Blue Shield: In 2012, less than 1% of dental HMO plan network providers maintained closed practices; this represents approximately 30 offices.

BRIGHTER: All Brighter dentists are accepting new patients.

Cigna: DHMO — Our systems include data on dentist capacity and current and projected Cigna Dental Care member loads. Network managers regularly monitor capacity and projected growth. They contact dentists as necessary to discuss capacity expansion through staff increases or office hour changes. If these actions are not feasible, we will consider adding more dental offices. Nationwide, approximately 8 percent of the Cigna Dental Care network dental offices are closed or capped to new members. DPPO/DEPO — Network dentists do not cap or close their offices. Members are not required to select a primary network dental office

Delta Dental: 0%. Under the PPO/Premier plans, enrollees are free to see any licensed dentist. Contracted dentists can close their practices to new patients but cannot close their practice exclusively to new Delta Dental patients; 2.92% DHMO dental facilities are closed to new enrollment.

Dental Health Services: About 8% of network general practice dentists are closed to new enrollment (63 offices). No specialty offices are closed to new members.

Guardian: In California, only 0.4% of our PPO network and 5.7% of our DHMO network is closed to new patients.

Health Net Dental: As of April 2013, for DHMO, currently 3% of our General Dentist unique locations are closed to new enrollment. For PPO, currently 0.8% of our dentists’ offices are closed to new enrollment.

HumanaDental: Under HumanaDental’s provider contract, participating dentists have payer differentials. Because this is a fee-for-service reimbursement program, closed practices are not common.

Principal Financial Group: Less than 1% of the offices participating in our network are  closed  to new enrollment.

Securian Dental: All of our network dentists are open to new enrollment.

United Concordia: In California, more than 99% of our PPO dentist network is open to new enrollment, as well as more than 95% of our DHMO dentist network.

Western Dental: Less than 3% of our network providers are closed to new enrollments – about 60 offices.

13. Do all of your contracted offices accept every benefit level sold by your company or do they have the option to pick and choose only the programs with co-payments they want to accept?

Aetna: For California, approximately 4% of our DMO participating providersare closed to new patients. All of our PPO providers are open to new patients.

Aflac: Aflac Dental has no provider networks.

Ameritas: All providers accept patients from all plans sold through Ameritas Group Dental.

Anthem Blue Cross: Anthem Blue Cross recommends all participating providers accept all plans offered. Providers cannot cherry pick DHMO plans, they either accept all DHMO plans under the specific contract, or they do not contract. Providers can choose to participate with Dental Prime and Dental Complete, or Dental Complete only; however as for plan or benefit designs under each product, providers cannot cherry pick which PPO design they will accept.

BEN-E-LECT: All benefit levels are accepted and to date no offices have limited or requested to limit the programs they will accept.

BEST Life: All contracted offices accept every benefit level. Furthermore, by contract, all providers will honor the PPO discounts on all procedures, including non-covered services. They must also honor a discount for members who are within a waiting period or who have exceeded their annual maximum.

Blue Shield: Offices are not allowed to  pick and choose  which plan designs they accept.

BRIGHTER: All contracted offices must participate in each benefit level we sell.

Cigna: All contracted DPPO offices accept all of the insured benefit DPPO plan designs that we offer. All contracted DHMO offices accept all of the DHMO plan designs that we offer. For our discount dental programs, not all DPPO contracted dentists are required to participate. They may opt out of participation in these discount dental programs if they desire.

Delta Dental: Delta Dental holds contracts with individual dentists for participation with each network (Premier, PPO and DeltaCare USA [DHMO]). Dentists can choose to participate only in those programs with copayments they wish to accept.

Dental Health Services: All new dentists are contracted for all plans offered by Dental Health Services.

Guardian: All contracted PPO and CA DHMO offices accept all of the plan designs that we offer.

Health Net Dental: All participating PPO dentists accept all of our plan designs. Contracted DHMO providers accept all Health Net Dental DHMO plans.

HumanaDental: The PPO contract is for all network-based programs, excluding DHMO, which requires a separate agreement. Dentists can opt-out of participation in the Medicare and Access (discount) programs, which are a subset of the PPO.

Principal Financial Group: Providers can choose to participate in our PPO and/or EPO networks. Within each option, providers need to accept all benefit levels sold by our company.

Securian Dental: Yes, they accept every benefit level sold by our company.

United Concordia: All contracted PPO dentists accept all United Concordia PPO plans. All contracted DHMO dentists accept all United Concordia DHMO plans.

Western Dental: The entire network accepts all of the new Series 7 plans.

14. Do you have a way to monitor the length of time patients have to wait in the doctor’s office?

Aetna: We do not monitor average wait times in a dentist’s office.

Aflac:  Since policyholders can choose any dentist without restriction, Aflac does not monitor wait times.

Ameritas: We monitor patient wait time through random customer and patient surveys. Providers are contacted, if necessary, to discuss specific feedback.

Anthem Blue Cross: Yes, we monitor this as a metric in our member satisfaction surveys. Through our complaint/grievance tracking processes, issues such as wait times are logged and monitored. Additionally, we monitor appointment wait times and emergency wait times through surveys conducted by our organization.

BEN-E-LECT: This information is tracked closely for Freedom Pre-Paid Dental Plans. Surveys and questionnaires for the PPO products track this information.

BEST Life: Network accessibility and wait times are included as part of the credentialing and ongoing monitoring processes.

Blue Shield: Yes. We monitor and track wait times several ways. We document member complaints on this issue in our customer service workbench and track them electronically until they are resolved. We also conduct an annual member satisfaction survey, which contains specific questions about wait times with our network offices.

BRIGHTER: Yes. Additionally, Brighter maintains an unprecedented high level of member satisfaction through an exceptional member service team that follows up with each patient to ensure their experience at the Brighter dentist met their expectations. Brighter backs this up with a satisfaction guarantee.

Cigna: The dental network management team monitors wait times in our DHMO general dentist facilities via monthly telephone calls. Additionally, we are able to identify lengthy wait times through our patient satisfaction surveys.We investigate inquiries about excessive wait time and take corrective action if we determine that timely and efficient dental care was available, but not provided. If we determine that excessive wait time was the result of insufficient patient capacity, we initiate actions to expand the dentist’s capacity or recruit additional dentists in that particular area.

Delta Dental: Delta Dental conducts random enrollee surveys semi-annually for the fee-for-service enrollees and annually for DHMO enrollees. Surveys include questions about dentist access (for example, number of dentists from which to choose and appointment availability with their dentist) as well as other customer satisfaction issues. For the DHMO, the appointment availability is also monitored via regular office visits from a Delta Dental representative.

Dental Health Services: Yes, we monitor our members’ experiences through frequent member surveys, regular on-site dental office visits and quarterly access surveys.

Guardian: We send monthly member satisfaction surveys, which include questions concerning wait times, to randomly chosen PPO members who have been to a network dentist within the previous 90 days. The DHMO has established access standards and monitors this quarterly through access monitoring forms, member satisfaction surveys, and transfer and grievance data.  Telephone calls are utilized on an  as-needed  basis.

Health Net Dental: We monitor individual wait times in the dentist’s waiting room through our member satisfaction surveys and provider access surveys. Results of these surveys are a critical tool in assessing a member’s experience with network dentists and their specific offices. In addition, we receive feedback on office wait times from members calling our toll-free Health Net Dental Member Services number.

HumanaDental: We rely on member calls to keep us apprised of scheduling issues. Sometimes, the member is limiting their options (i.e., after 5 p.m.), which is discovered through discussion with our customer-relations representatives. If the issue becomes chronic, the information is forwarded to our National Dental Network department because additional providers may be needed in the area.

Principal Financial Group: We do not monitor this.

Securian Dental: We do not monitor this.

United Concordia: Yes, it is monitored through member surveys, a customer service grievance process and periodic phone and written survey audits of the offices.

Western Dental: Western Dental monitors patient’s length of time by onsite reviews, surveys, and questionnaires. In addition, our staff model offices use the Quality Assurance Management System. The state-of-the-art, proprietary software tool tracks measurable items, such as wait times, which ensures that our members have timely access to quality dental care.

15. Are there plenty of providers who stay open late and are open on Saturdays?

Aetna: Office hours are set by each individual dental office. We document dentists’ office hours as part of the credentialing process. We use the information to balance networks by contracting with dentists who offer weekend and evening hours.

Aflac: Aflac Dental does not have a network of providers. Policyholders may visit any dentist they choose, which includes those with extended hours.

Ameritas PPO: Yes, each office sets its own hours. Those hours are available to all our members on our on-line provider listings. Our goal is to balance care availability throughout the area to ensure needed care.

Anthem Blue Cross: Each dental office sets its own office hours. However, as part of the credentialing process, we document dentists’ office hours and use the information to ensure our networks include dentists who offer weekend and evening hours.

BEN-E-LECT: Yes, many of BEN-E-LECT’s provider offices offer extended evening and early morning hours in addition to weekend hours for ease of access.

BEST Life: Yes, many providers have extended and flexible hours.

Blue Shield: This varies by provider, but many do stay open late and/or are open on Saturdays.

BRIGHTER: Yes, Brighter’s provider network includes practices that are open late and/or on the weekend.

Cigna: DHMO — There are 3,405 network offices (24 percent of the total DHMO network) offering Saturday office hours, and 5,353 network offices (38 percent of the total DHMO network) offering evening hours (6:00 p.m. or later). DEPO/DPPO — Members are able to visit any licensed dentist for care; therefore, we do not measure evening or weekend hours for DPPO network dentists. Additionally, our dentist contracts require dentists to provide or arrange for emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to provide emergency appointments within 24 hours.

Delta Dental: Our online dentist directory contains information on hours and access, including maps, directions and languages spoken. In addition to posting hours and access, DHMO network dentists are required to provide 24-hour emergency service to enrollees seven days a week.

Guardian: Many PPO and DHMO provider locations have extended or weekend hours.

Health Net Dental: The office hours of each dentist location is listed in our online provider directory. This information is also available to all members through Health Net Dental Member Services. As part of our dentist agreement, all locations are required to have an emergency contact available for members whenever the dental office is closed.

HumanaDental: Members can see the provider of their choice and they are encouraged to contact their dentist for appointment availability. Based on today’s busy lifestyles, many providers are extending their hours to meet the needs of their patients.

Principal Financial Group: Members can see any provider of their choice, which can include those who have extended hours.

United Concordia: Yes.

Western Dental: Yes, many of our IPA providers have evening and Saturday hours. The Western Dental Staff Model Offices are open from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Monday through, Friday and 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM on Saturdays.

16. With respect to your mid-range benefit level, what is the specific amount of capitation paid to the general dentist? Do you offer validation for these amounts?

Aetna: We establish varying compensation rates under each customer’s benefits plan for subscribers, spouses, and children. Monthly compensation rates are based on community averages and plan design. Actual capitation amounts are proprietary.

Aflac: Aflac Dental does not offer capitation plans.

Ameritas PPO and the FDH Networks: Neither of these networks is used for dental HMO purposes, so no capitation is paid.

BEN-E-LECT: This is not applicable for BEN-E-LECT’s PPO plans. All dentist capitation has been added to the dentist premium amounts collected for the DHMO products.

BEST Life: We do not compensate our providers through capitation. Our Indemnity and PPO plans allow patients to utilize providers of their choice.

Blue Shield: This information is considered proprietary.


Cigna: Network general dentists’ payment consists of the following four components: fixed monthly payments (capitation), patient charges (copays), office visit payments, and supplemental payments for certain covered procedures. Network specialists are paid based on a fixed fee schedule.

Delta Dental: Capitation rates are developed based on the plan design, annual utilization data, enrollee/dependent mix and employer contribution. Compensation is designed to reimburse approximately 60% to 65% of usual fees.

Dental Health Services: Dental Health Services’ compensation system involves many more components than capitation and is designed to keep the participating dentists whole while providing incentives for appropriate treatment and care.

Guardian: DHMO capitation amounts paid to the general dentist vary based on plan design, adult or child, and region.

Health Net Dental: Capitation information is proprietary.

HumanaDental: Managed dental care capitation varies by plan schedule and geographic location.

Principal Financial Group: N/A

Securian Dental: We do not offer capitation plans. We offer PPO and Indemnity plans.

United Concordia: Specific capitation amounts are considered proprietary information. United Concordia also compensates participating DHMO providers with supplemental payments on over 80 procedures. The supplemental compensation not only provides incentives for participating dentists to appoint patients and render necessary care but also provides a mechanism for the dentists to report utilization and thus allowing United Concordia to report DHMO utilization to our customers.

Western Dental: Series 7 plans reimburse providers with capitation and supplemental payments. Total compensation, as with fee-for-service designs, depends on how much treatment is provided.

17. Are there incentives for the provider to be thorough?

Aetna: Quality management programs are designed to help protect members and providers.

Aflac: It is expected that the dentists selected by the policyholders treat their patients with the utmost respect and provide the highest standards of quality care without requiring incentives to do so. If the policyholders are unhappy with the service received, they may change dentists at any time.

Ameritas PPO: Provider thoroughness is an expectation; we do not offer an incentive for this. We do, however, monitor patient care through quarterly utilization review. If standards are not met, it could result in the provider’s termination from the network.

Anthem Blue Cross: We do not offer incentive programs to dentists because we expect quality of care with or without incentives.

BEN-E-LECT: Yes. BEN-E-LECT may offer bonuses to providers who exceed quality of services and accessibility standards.

BEST Life: Our networks administer comprehensive utilizations reviews for dental necessity and appropriateness of care.

Blue Shield: We expect all network dentists to provide our members with high-quality, thorough care; we continuously measure appropriateness of care through numerous oversight methods. While routine treatment plans are carried out by dentists without prospective review, more complicated treatments are evaluated by our dental consultants who assess the proposed treatment(s) for appropriateness and benefit determination. All dentists involved in our review process are fully licensed. Our clinicians are also actively involved in the annual review of dentist records. These quality-of-care audits involve the use of comprehensive guidelines established by the American Academy of Dental Group Practice, the California Dental Association, and the American Dental Association (through the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry). A random sample of each dentist’s records is selected for scrutiny by our dental consultants. Recommendations are made to any dentists who do not meet our quality standards, and follow-up audits are conducted to verify corrective action has been taken.

BRIGHTER: All Brighter members have the ability to rate their experience with a Brighter dentist. Poor ratings will impact their visibility on Brighter’s online shopping platform and, ultimately, ability to attract new patients.

Cigna: Our Integrated Quality Management Program drives overall quality across our all of our dental networks. While we do not provide incentives as part of our Quality Management Program, the expectation is that the dentists in our networks meet professionally recognized standards of care. DHMO — Incentives play an important role at increasing participation. Payment for network dental offices is made up of four elements: fixed monthly payments, office visit payments, supplemental payments from Cigna, and patient payments made directly from the member to the dentist. This model is designed to encourage preventive dentistry and to protect the dental office from over-utilization. When these standard forms of payment do not satisfy a quality dentist, Cigna will work with the dentist to achieve the best outcome. Cigna’s network general dentists are able to earn bonus payments when they meet performance goals set for preventive care, specialty procedures and patient satisfaction through the DHMO pay for performance rewards program. DEPO/DPPO — Network dentists are paid based on discounted fee schedules that vary by 3-digit zip code. Our discounted schedules encourage preventive dentistry by offering more aggressive payment on preventive services while holding deeper discounts on Class II and Class III procedures. For noncovered services, members are responsible for payment of the dentist’s usual fee for that procedure.

Delta Dental: Delta Dental does not pay any special incentives. We expect all credentialed network dentists to provide high-quality care within professionally accepted standards and to maintain the dental health of enrollees, with the intention to reduce the need for more invasive care later. Dentists who provide quality care and service retain their assigned enrollees, and as a result, gain enrollment and greater overall compensation.

Dental Health Services: As a prepaid dental plan, Dental Health Services provides plans designed to remove the incentive for dentists to over treat, by using a different reimbursement structure. Through a combination of guaranteed monthly capitation payments, selected supplemental payments and reasonable patient copayments, dentists are rewarded for bringing patients to a state of optimum oral health and then maintaining this state. Dentists are required to submit encounter (utilization) data to the plan so that the services performed can be monitored and compared to expected parameters, resulting in the same monitoring ability as claims-based dental programs, while leaving very few actual submitted claim forms. (Specialty claims and claims for out-of-network emergency care being the common exceptions.)

Guardian: Our PPO fee schedules and plan provisions encourage proper care. Guardian requires participating dentists to treat PPO members the same as any other patients and we investigate all quality of care complaints from members. Our DHMO reimbursement schedules, capitation payments, office visit fees, supplemental payments, and chair-hour guarantees encourage appropriate care. Participating dentists treat DHMO members the same as any other patient, and we have a grievance process in place to follow up on all quality of care complaints from members.

Health Net Dental: We do not offer financial incentives to our dentists. Our expectation is that our dentists perform in accordance with high professional standards without incentives. Our extensive credentialing process ensures that our contracting dentists are of the highest caliber.

HumanaDental: Fee-for-service reimbursement encourages thorough treatment. Member complaints are reviewed by our Quality Assurance Department and through our standard grievance process.

Principal Financial Group: Being thorough is an expectation and we do not provide incentives to meet expectations. All providers in our networks must meet strict credentialing requirements. This means they have all been independently reviewed and found to have proper professional credentials and a verified history of responsible billings. However, a member is free to choose any provider.

Securian Dental: All DenteMax dentists undergo a rigorous credentialing process to ensure the highest quality dentists are treating our members.

United Concordia: Our expectation is that all services performed by participating dentists will meet the high standards of the dental industry. In addition, participating DHMO primary dentists get supplemental reimbursement on the most highly utilized procedures in addition to monthly capitation and member co-payments, which encourage dentists to provide the services necessary to ensure the oral health of members. Participating providers are routinely evaluated through utilization analysis and onsite quality assurance assessments.

Western Dental: Western Dental Services Inc. may pay the dentist a bonus based on exceeding standards specified by Western Dental with regard to accessibility of services and quality of care.