Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dentistry Game Changers for 2013



We are near the end of 2012 and it is time to reflect.

After reading
, former University of Pennsylvania School of Dentistry Dean's Marjorie Jeffcoat's dentistry game changers, I decided to add a few of my own.

The Affordable Care Act - ObamaCare:

Nobody really knows how this will affect dentistry, except the fact that taxes for dentists will likely rise.

The entire issue of Medicaid and enrolling more children into ACA health exchanges will be decided at the state level. Some states, like California will participate more. But, will they be able to afford it?

How will dentist participation rise with a burgeoning population of government subsidized patients?

The entire issue of access to care with the ACA will be a large unknown, as we head to full implementation in 2014.

Mid-level Dentistry Providers:

A number of well-endowed foundations have been aggressively pushing mid-level provider training/licensing to provide more care to underserved populations. The rationale is that you train folks less and you can pay them less.

Some states have been supportive and there are bound to be more state initiative campaigns at the ballot box. The public will support cheaper care, but is that what they really want?

For dentists, the Congress has been resistant to tamper with the provider issue and has refused to fund pilot training programs for mid-level providers.

The issue will not be going away and organized dentistry's response has been uneven and uncoordinated.

If the ADA gets its act together and more aggressively opposes mid-level dental providers, it will be a 2013 game changer.

Corporate Dentistry:

There have been state dentistry board actions and lawsuits against a number of corporate dentistry entities. I say entities because due to various state laws, some of these corporately dentistry service providers are precluded to directly serve patients, but only offer practice management guidance.

The federal government has been investigating the end around state dental licensing laws and the relationship with Medicaid reimbursement.

Will more states have the fortitude to directly challenge well-funded corporate dentistry shill practices?

How will private lawsuits mold the practice?

Will more private equity funds enter the market to purchase the private dentistry practices of the retiring baby boom dentists?

The growth of corporate dentistry under the auspices of the ACA will be a 2013 game changer.

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There you have just a few for 2013.

Waiting in the wings are the issues of:

  • The cost of dental education
  • The death of amalgam as a restorative material
  • The future of private, solo practice
  • The dentist as the "Used Car" salesman = financial pressures of practice.

As we enter 2013, dentistry will have numerous challenges.

What do you think they will be?

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