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National Dental Benefits Conference 2008

In opening remarks to participants at the Aug. 15-16 National Dental Benefits Conference, Dr. William Calnon said the Council on Dental Benefit Programs took a "serious approach" to the topics that would be discussed at the meeting.

With his experience as ADA 2nd District trustee and liaison for the council, he would naturally know such a thing.

But by noon that day, after presentations including a panel discussion on the differences between the ADA's interpretation of evidence-based dentistry and Delta Dental's, everyone knew.

From health care reform—"The ADA is prepared to frame the oral health perspective as the leading advocate for the profession," said ADA 6th District Trustee Charles Smith, chair of the ADA Future of Healthcare and Universal Coverage Task Force—to dental tourism to current dental delivery systems, trends affecting dental benefits were explored in detail by presenters and closely analyzed by participants.

"Why is the insurers claims data proprietary?" Dr. Jeffrey Rempell, vice-chair of the council, asked Delta Dental Plans Association's Dr. Max Anderson. "What can be deduced when insured services are the only claims data being studied?" asked Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch.

It was Dr. Richard L. Taliaferro's first time attending the meeting. Early on, the Stephens City, Va., dentist said the meeting was more informative than he'd expected. The Virginia Dental Association's chair of its direct reimbursement committee described the evidence-based dentistry presentations and panel discussion as informative and helpful. "I understand this subject is contentious, but we'll work through it," he predicted.

The chief operating officer of the Medical Tourism Association explained how other countries are improving their health care to increase tourism and charging as much as 50 percent less for many procedures.

"This country has many people from other countries who will return to the countries they're from for medical and dental care," said Renée-Marie Stephano. "We need to help these patients make informed decisions."

(Dr. David Preble, director of the Council on Dental Benefit Programs, will participate in a panel discussion on provider views regarding dental tourism at the Sept. 9-12 World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress in San Francisco.)

Differences and discussions aside, many participants reported that they also enjoyed the social aspects of the conference. Long a networking opportunity for dentists, dental society staff members, employee benefit consultants and third-party administrators, thought-provoking debates were broken up by breaks that included a networking reception to give participants an additional opportunity to meet with their colleagues from around the country.