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National Dental Benefits Conference eyes trends

Image: Col. Jeffrey Chaffin
Conference speaker: Col. Jeffrey Chaffin, chief, Dental Care Branch for TRICARE Management Activity, speaks on Quality Measures in TRICARE Dental Contracts.
The National Dental Benefits Conference continued its tradition this year of being a place for dentists, dental team members, brokers, consultants, dental benefits representatives and constituent/component society members to network, learn about the latest trends and issues in the insurance industry, and hear how they can improve their practices or businesses.

More than 100 people attended this year’s daylong conference, held Aug. 5 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago. Dentists received four continuing education credits for attending.

“The National Dental Benefits Conference provides our members the opportunity to interact with third-party payers, share concerns and learn about evolving trends,” said Dr. Chris Smiley, chair of the Council on Dental Benefit Programs. “Each year I attend this conference, I come away with some golden nuggets that benefit my practice. I strongly urge anybody with concerns about dental benefit issues to attend this conference next year.”

Highlights from the conference included:

  • Dr. John Luther, chief dental officer for United Healthcare Dental, gave an overview of how coverage and reimbursement are determined during his presentation, The Role of Dental Carriers in Disease Management and Caries Prevention. He described how this may change over time and shared several innovative management and wellness models under development, including examples of successful approaches to combating early childhood caries.
  • Kathleen Noll, vice president of Technical Marketing and Implementations for QSIDental, presented Embracing the Electronic Dental Record. She discussed the selection, implementation and cost savings associated with implementing an electronic dental record, including descriptions of the components of an electronic dental record and current digital radiography products, a return on investment worksheet of proposed savings realized from utilizing both electronic dental records and digital radiography, and strategies for a successful implementation.
  • Dr. William Kohn, vice president for dental science and policy at Delta Dental Plans Association, talked about the key role of dental care and oral health in helping to ensure the overall good health of individuals. His presentation, Dental Benefits Evolve to Incorporate Evidence-Based Dental Care and the Interrelationships Between Oral and Systemic Health, also discussed the emphasis over the past decade on evidence-based dental care and the increasing amount of clinical evidence from systematic research regarding oral diseases and systemic health and the evolution of dental benefit plans to incorporate expanded benefits for persons with diseases and medical conditions that have oral health implications.

Dr. Petra Von Heimburg, attorney and member of the Chicago Dental Society, found Dr. Kohn’s presentation especially informative.

“Dr. Kohn stressed the importance of evidence-based dentistry as the basis for future insurance coverage and reimbursement decisions as well as its application to oral and systemic health issues,” Dr. Von Heimburg said. “A major concern looming on the horizon is how to secure appropriate funding for reliable and unbiased data which can serve as the foundation for evidence-based dentistry.”

  • Laura McLain, of Express Dental Care, educated the audience on the process for handling other lines of coverage for accident/trauma such as automobile and liability plans during Building Your Business Another Way: Workers Compensation Claims and Other Insurance Coverage. She discussed peer reviews, second opinions and independent medical evaluations. She also spoke about workers compensation claims, including documentation, payment/billing and authorization for treatment, a concept that can be foreign to dental offices.
  • Provider profiling and focused review, use of dental consultants and dental fraud experts were the focus of the presentation by Dr. Barry L. Johnson, of HealthCare Insight, a division of Verisk Health. Shedding Light on the Reality of Fraud, Waste and Abuse in Dental Claims also allowed Dr. Johnson to provide examples of billing abuse and fraud and dental billing medical insurer’s scenarios.

Image: Dr. Mark Jurkovich and Dr. Jason Flannagan
Networking: Dr. Mark Jurkovich, Chisago City, Minn., and Dr. Jason Flannagan, Westfield, Ind., confer during the National Dental Benefits Conference Aug. 5 at ADA Headquarters.
The economy and its effects on the dental benefit industry was also spotlighted during the opening remarks of ADA Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin, who cited an ADA survey that showed members believe educating the public about dental benefits is a major issue.

“Members see confusion and misinformation about how dental benefit coverage works and the roles of different players,” Dr. O’Loughlin said. “With more accurate understanding of dental benefit coverage, many members feel that patients would make better decisions about how to use it.”

Next year’s National Dental Benefits Conference is scheduled for Sept. 14, 2012, at ADA Headquarters. There are plans to provide up to seven continuing education units for those who attend.