A new study compares pediatric dental practices across Medicaid providers and states.
February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and the Benevis Foundation, a nonprofit aiming to improve dental health access and outcomes among underserved pediatric patient populations, has released a report that compares the dental utilization and monthly Medicaid expenditures for patients who received care by a Kool Smiles provider to non-Kool Smiles providers.
Kool Smiles is a client of Benevis, a comprehensive practice services company and parent organization of the Benevis Foundation
"The headline is really that Kool Smiles dentists do about 15 percent fewer services overall and charge Medicaid really an astounding 33 percent less than their peers," reports Geoffrey Freeman, co-founder of the Benevis Foundation. "[That] is really groundbreaking, because it implies that if states had Kool Smiles dentists doing all of their Medicaid treatment, they could really save hundreds of millions of dollars annually."
But Freeman goes on to explain that providers like Kool Smiles do not do all the treatments because "the system has really not been set up that way. Obviously, it's a free-market, where anybody can go and participate and become a dentist and serve children however they like." But he submits that well-managed organizations with clinical leaders who "set treatment protocols and really drive … conservativism in the care that they provide to children" -- that really makes a difference.
Presently, there is an initiative by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to improve access to dental care -- the goal is to do so by about ten percent.
"What we're hoping to do is really put a solution on the table that both states and taxpayers could really embrace to address that need," Freeman explains. "Meaning, 'Hey -- here is an opportunity to actually decrease how much the state is paying for Medicaid services and actually potentially improve the amount of access that's provided at the same time.'"
The Kool Smiles network is about 125 offices in just over a dozen states and the District of Columbia.