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Letters: Active life members

January 07, 2013

The ADA website encourages dentists to "Join 70 percent of your colleagues—157,000 member dentists and 16,000 student members." I was able to find out that there are 12,000 of us active life members but I am not sure, with other possible categories, just how many regular dues paying members there are so I used 142,000 for that number.

The dues increase passed for 2013 for the active life membership category (HOD Resolution 51H-2012) is in my view an unconscionable action ("House OKs Changes to Active Life Membership Category," Nov. 5, 2012 ADA News). It is just over a 53 percent increase of the dues structure that has been promulgated for as long as I can remember (once one had 30 consecutive years or a total of 40 years membership in the ADA and attained age 65, the active life category would consist of a 50 percent rate as related to the active membership rate). The new active membership rate increased 2.3 percent for 2013. That is a bit of a disparity (to state it politely). For the active members, their dues represent a $1,420,000 net gain (142,000 members); for the ADA and for the active life members, the ADA gains $1,632,000 (12,000 members).

The total gain for the ADA in dues income would then be $3,052,000. Had each category of membership been assessed 4.03 percent dues increase, the amount would have come very close the same total.

I have come to the conclusion that the active life membership category consists of old guys/gals that have life, disability, office overhead and maybe other forms of ADA-sponsored insurance plans that they simply cannot afford to get or cannot get anywhere else at this time of their lives. They have us where we cannot do anything but pay the dues; never mind that we have been among those that have kept the ADA going over the years as full dues paying members.

Many ADA members cannot afford to have our policies canceled by dropping our ADA membership or retiring. Younger members and the student members may well consider what happens when they become the older members and consider instead belonging only to their specialty group and for certain obtaining their insurance policies outside the ADA-sponsored plans while you still have a choice. I will, with considerable aggravation, pay the dues—I have no choice.

The ADA should rescind HOD Resolution 51H-2012 and live up to its commitments to its life members. It is the right thing to do.

R. P. Lansdowne, D.D.S.
Wichita, Kansas

Editor's note: The Council on Membership appreciates Dr. Lansdowne's perspective on this issue. Active life members are highly valued and integral to the ADA and the dental profession. While all ADA members receive a full range of benefits, in 2012 only 54 percent paid full active dues of $512. The other 46 percent of members received some type of discount. Taking into account all discounts, the average member paid $311 in dues this year, roughly a 39 percent discount from the full dues of $512. The largest contributor to growth in the average discount rate has been rapid growth in the number of members that qualify for active life status. When compared to other membership categories, active life members enjoy a reduction in their dues while receiving the same membership benefits as those paying the full active rate.