Oklahoma dentists oppose insurance company scrutiny with HB 3023


LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) – A Lawton lawmaker hopes to roll back some of the control insurance companies have over the dental industry in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma dentists say dental insurance has become a giant that doesn’t protect patients. They hope House Bill 3023 will put the power back in the hands of patients.

Rep. Rande Worthen thinks certain insurance company methods interfere with patient care, including bundling, “decoding,” and uncovered services.

There are certain provisions that insurance companies will not pay for, yet they are still involved in determining the price of the service.

“They always want to come between the patient and the dentist and I feel that if they don’t cover that service, it should be a decision between that patient and that dentist, even as to how much it should cost,” Worthen says.

Like most medical acts, everything is regulated by a billing code. Sometimes companies “code” it from what the dentist actually does.

And then there is the grouping.

“The best example is a crown or cap on a tooth,” Worthen said. “There have to be certain procedures to put that cap or crown in place. Often they will not pay for each individual service. They will only pay one, combining those.

But dental insurance companies are hoping to crush the bill.

In a guest column for The Oklahoman, the CEO of Delta Dental of Oklahoma said, in part, quoting “Bill 3023 is one-sided, benefiting the vested interests of dentists at the expense of millions of Oklahoma patients. If House Bill 3023 becomes reality, DDOK members alone would face more than $15 million a year for dental care.

According to a Lawton dentist who has been practicing for nearly 30 years, insurance companies try to dictate their practice of dentistry, and that’s not the model dentists want.

“We’re trying to get this through the legislature so we can frankly help protect patients and give them the benefit of their insurance and less of a profitability issue for insurance companies,” Todd Bridges said.

Bridges said he treats his patients like family and wants to make sure they can continue to receive dental care.

“It’s all about the patients,” Bridges said. “For us as dental providers, we care about our patients, and we want to make sure that if they have a third-party carrier, that third-party carrier honors the agreement the patient has made when they’re paying the bounty.

The bill will go to the floor of the House and, if passed, it will go to the Senate.

Bridges and Worthen encourage Oklahomans to contact their lawmakers and let them know what they think of the bill.

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