Thursday, September 08, 2011

Groupon Coupon Dentistry Appears in Ventura County, California

This Groupon appeared in my inbox this morning and I have to say it is not the first.

So, you ask what is the big deal with advertising reduced fee dental services?

The Oregon Dental Board has had some reservations.
Oregon’s board of dentistry said daily-deal coupons, such as those sold by Groupon Inc., may violate rules barring the payment of commissionsfor referrals, and the state’s board of chiropractors has banned their use.
“The board has preliminarily determined that these may violate the unprofessional conduct rule,” the Oregon Board of Dentistry said on its website. The state’s board of chiropractic examiners has prohibited the use of “Groupon type fee-splitting arrangements,” according to a July 25 statement.

Groupon and other companies such as LivingSocial sell coupons that offer discounts on products and services from local businesses, making money by taking some of the revenue generated by the sale. Chiropractors in California, the most populous U.S. state, are likely to discuss the matter, said Robert Puleo, executive officer of the California Board of
Chiropractic Examiners.

“That’s not something that my board has discussed — we haven’t received any complaints,” Puleo said in an interview. “But I am sure if it’s happening in Oregon, it’ll be coming to California, too.”
Also, the link on the Groupon leads you to a website where it is not easy to discover which dentist or dental group is advertising the "deal."

If there is fee splitting or a commission paid to Groupon for the referral, or misleading advertising then there are some potential violations of the California Dental Practice Act:
1680. Unprofessional conduct by a person licensed under this chapter is defined as, but is not limited to, any one of the following:

(f) The use of any false, assumed, or fictitious name, either as an individual, firm, corporation, or otherwise, or any name other than the name under which he or she is licensed to practice, in advertising or in any other manner indicating that he or she is practicing or will practice dentistry, except that name as is specified in a valid permit issued pursuant to Section 1701.5.

(g) The practice of accepting or receiving any commission or the rebating in any form or manner of fees for professional services, radiograms, prescriptions, or other services or articles supplied to patients.

(h) The making use by the licensee or any agent of the licensee of any advertising statements of a character tending to deceive or mislead the public.

(j) The employing or the making use of solicitors.

(k) The advertising in violation of Section 651.
I do not know if the California Dental Board is investigating Groupon, but it probably is just a matter of time.

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