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Cigna postpones launching dentist rating system

December 22, 2014

By Kelly Soderlund

Cigna is postponing the implementation of its proposed dentist rating system after months of negotiation with the ADA.

Cigna announced in the fall that in 2015 it would launch what it called a cost-effectiveness designation program that rated in-network dentists based on cost and utilization patterns. The ratings would appear as stars within Cigna’s provider directory. According to Cigna, dentists who received a three-star rating have a fee schedule that results in greater potential cost savings within their geographical area.

Association leaders, specifically those in the ADA Practice Institute and the Council on Dental Benefit Programs, argued that the methodology Cigna was using was scientifically flawed and would mislead the public. The ADA expressed its discontent with the rating system through a number of discussions and communications with Cigna leaders, including a conference call with CDBP.

Cigna states in a letter it will send to dentists that its goal is to develop an approach that is acceptable to the dental practice community. Cigna originally planned to introduce the ratings program Nov. 1 but changed the launch date in order to keep dialoging with the dental community.

“We’re very pleased that Cigna responded to our concerns on behalf of ADA member dentists,” said Dr. Charles Hoffman, CDBP chair. “Throughout the negotiations, Cigna remained willing to talk with CDBP about our concerns for members. This decision shows a reasonable response to legitimate concerns expressed by the ADA and we hope to keep these channels open for any future conversations that may be necessary.

Cigna leaders shared the ADA’s sentiment in welcoming a dialogue on the issue.

“The dental professional community has given us valuable feedback and insight over the past few months.  As a result of the suggestions we have received, a revised approach is being developed and tested with dentists, dental practice organizations and consumers,” said Karen Eldred, Cigna spokeswoman. “It is our goal to develop an approach that is acceptable to our dental PPO network participants and the dental professional community while meeting the growing needs of our clients and customers for transparency of oral health care costs. Cigna remains committed to helping our customers make the most informed decisions while seeking dental care, and getting the most out of their dental care dollars.”