According to dentaleconomics.com, nearly 3 out of 4 new dental insurance plans sold today is a preferred provider organization (PPO) plan. This statistic alone speaks volumes about the desirability of PPO dental insurance.
But it isn’t just consumers who are eager to participate in PPO plans. Dentists are piling on the PPO bandwagon as well.
Like a health PPO, dental PPOs help patients keep costs under control while they help health care professionals connect with consumers more effectively. As a result, not only are more dentists contracting with dental PPOs – they are also contracting with a wider variety of PPOs.
In 2012, the average PPO dental provider had contracts with 8.4 PPO networks, compared with less than 6 networks each in 2008. Also, today the number of unique dentists in the average PPO network has grown to more than 72,000, an increase of nearly 9% over 2011.
Moreover, the average number of PPO provider access points (locations where a network dentist practices) also increased in 2012 from 2 to 2.25[i], and market penetration (the number of network dentists compared to the total number of dentists available) has increased as well.[ii]
Is PPO dental insurance right for you?
Clearly, a lot of consumers and dentists love their PPO networks. But is a dental PPO right for you? If you’re interested in participating in a PPO dental plan, here are a few things you should consider. First, choosing a PPO means you have the opportunity to reduce out-of-pocket costs by using an in-network provider.
Consumers who purchase a preferred provider organization (PPO) dental insurance plan must select a dentist from among the network of dentists participating in the PPO in order to be assured of the greatest savings. Some (not all) PPO dental plan providers allow patients the freedom to select an out-of-network dentist. However, patients who select an out-of-network dentist also have higher out of pocket costs.
If you already have a dentist that is not in the plan network, determine whether the higher out of pocket costs are substantial enough to entice you to change to a dentist that participates in a particular PPO dental plan. Equally important, examine in detail any restrictions on the types of treatment that participating PPO dentists are willing to provide.
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[i] “Is Growth of Dental PPO Networks Sustainable?” http://www.netminder.com/blog/bid/244402/Is-Growth-of-Dental-PPO-Networks-Sustainable
[ii] “As Dental PPO Penetration Increases, Is Market Saturation Near?” http://www.netminder.com/blog/bid/248019/As-Dental-PPO-Penetration-Increases-Is-Market-Saturation-Near