1/568 Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122, Australia

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Is going to a 'preferred provider' the best?

15th September 2015

Enquiring new patients often ask if we are a ‘preferred provider’. Fortunately, there are many reasons why we are not.

I have worked extensively in both practices that are preferred providers and non-preferred providers. This has afforded me the opportunity to really see the difference between the two systems.

In short, preferred provider dental clinics often put themselves in a position where they sacrifice quality and patient care for more new patients and more money.

How can this be the case?

If you’re not already aware, here is an explanation of what a 'preferred provider' agreement is:

  • · It is not an acknowledgement of the quality of the dentist, but it is a financial agreement between the dentist and the insurer enabling both to make more money
  • · Preferred Provider dentists are contracted to private health insurance companies to offer set fee services. In return for this, the insurance companies will ‘recommend’ the clinic to their policyholders
  • · This agreement, or business structure, allows the dentist to obtain more patients while the insurance company can pay less in benefits to their customer – because of how the services and fees are set up

Notice this agreement biases the dentist towards focusing on quantity not quality or patient care. What often results is cheaper work that requires more visits over time.

In fact, if that wasn’t concerning enough, some private health insurers actually own the practices that are Preferred Providers! Many health professionals and government officials believe this creates a clear conflict of interest with the insurer holding so much power over their customers health care and information whilst making money at every step.

How else does this affect your dental care?

Because we are not preferred providers we are free to put our patients first. This means our patients have more options available to them, many of which will save them money in the long run and be higher quality!

We also think it makes for better dentists. I can offer treatment options which require more skill and a higher level of training and proficiency because I don’t have an insurance company tying my hands. This has made me a more knowledgeable, skilled and experienced practitioner.

It does mean your treatment with us might not be ‘gap free', but good quality health care does not mean that it needs to be expensive either. We carefully balance our excellent quality with reasonable pricing. However, just as a diet of cheap fast food won’t do wonders for our health, discount medical treatment has the potential to cause issues in the future and we should consider if cutting corners when it comes to our dental health is wise.

So what are the benefits at Dentists of Hawthorn?

  • · You, as our patient, are our first priority, not a big insurance company
  • · We will always value our relationship with our patients more than a dubious   business decision
  • · We can spend more time with you
  • · We can produce higher quality work and have a stronger and more diverse experience base
  • · We can give you access to more treatment options
  • · We get new clients from word of mouth and doing good work not because we have entered a limiting agreement with an insurance company. Our interests are more aligned with our patients.

I recently heard one of our patients asked by a friend ‘is your dentist a preferred provider?' Their response: ‘Thank goodness they are not.”

We love our patients to much to sell them out.

~ Dr Aaron Wong
   Dentists of Hawthorn

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