Looking for the patient site or careers site? Visit mykoolsmiles.com or koolsmilesjobs.com | FAQs | Contact Us

Research & Commentary: Dental Service Organizations Help Patients and Dentists

Published by the Heartland Institute 

The dental industry has taken dramatic steps toward improving its services using information technology. A new model available to dentists are dental service organizations (DSOs). DSOs are companies dental providers can choose to contract with to provide critical business management and support services, including non-clinical operations.

First launched in the late 1990s, DSOs help dental practices deal with the complexities of administration, accounting, and insurance, which can be especially daunting when dealing with state Medicaid programs. DSOs allow dentists to focus on patient care by taking the burden of office management off their shoulders. DSOs also allow dentists to expand and streamline their services, by providing their patients with new technologies, such as radiography, in-office CAD/CAM, intraoral cameras, implants, online record keeping, and scheduling. DSOs often provide training assistance for skills dentists do not traditionally have, such as business management and marketing.

In a 2012 paper by Laffer Associates, economist Arthur Laffer examined the effect of DSOs on the quality and cost of dental care. The study found DSOs allowed dentists in Texas …

Read More

When Families Lack Insurance, Kids’ Dental Woes Rise

Published by US News & World Report

American children without dental insurance are far less likely to receive necessary care for their teeth than kids with coverage, a new survey finds.

Toothaches and other dental problems that interfere with eating, sleeping or school performance are twice as common for kids without dental coverage, researchers found.

The findings were released as Republican lawmakers discuss major changes to Medicaid and other programs that provide dental insurance to many families and children.

“This survey speaks loud and clear — coverage counts,” said Meg Booth, executive director for the Children’s Dental Health Project. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit conducted the survey.

The nationwide poll included more than 600 parents of children up to age 21.

Overall, 13 percent of parents said that in the past year their children needed dental care but weren’t able to receive it. The rate was nearly three times higher among uninsured children (26 percent) than among those with insurance (9 percent).

Cost was cited by more than half of parents as the reason why their children did not receive …

Read More

Survey Offers More Proof that Dental Coverage Counts

Published by Georgetown University

A new national survey of U.S. parents shows that children without dental insurance were twice as likely as insured kids to have had a recent toothache or other dental problem that affected their ability to eat, sleep or concentrate in school. The survey reveals the crucial impact of dental coverage at a time when Congress is considering plans to significantly alter key programs — including Medicaid — through which many U.S. children and families are covered.

The survey of 605 parents of children up to age 21 was conducted March 3-5 by Public Policy Polling. The survey was commissioned by the Children’s Dental Health Project and sponsored by the Benevis Foundation. Other key findings from the parent survey include:

Parents of uninsured kids were nearly three times as likely to have children who went without care than parents whose kids were insured.

Within the past year, 13% of parents said their children were “in need of dental care but not able to receive it.” However, parents of uninsured kids were nearly three times as …

Read More

The single word that would solve the Medicaid dental care access crisis

Published by Fierce Healthcare 

Our fractured medical care system might be the national headline grabber, but dental care is arguably an even bigger sore spot.

The statistics are painful: Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease among children. One in four dentists accepts Medicaid. Of those that accept it, less than half see more than one Medicaid patient per day.

Yet, with 48% of kids age 14 and younger on government assistance, access to quality care for economically disadvantaged children is a critical problem. And without prevention and treatment, cavities and gum disease can lead to life-threatening infections and are associated with medical problems including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and dementia.

With Medicaid reimbursement rates at a third to less than half of those for private insurance, more complicated billing processes and low-show rates for Medicaid patients, unfavorable economics drive dentists away from the very patients who need them most.

The bottom line: Lack of access to dental care has become a healthcare crisis. Yet it’s notably missing from our country’s conversation. And that’s bad news.

Here’s the good news: …

Read More

LA medicaid dental provider surpasses $13 Million in uncompensated care for uninsured children

Published by Baton Rouge Proud

Kool Smiles, a leading provider of quality dental care for underserved children and families in Louisiana, today announced its dentists have provided $13.7 million in uncompensated dental care since 2010. The uncompensated dental care program has helped more than 115,000 patients in Louisiana receive necessary dental treatments in instances where they did not have access to the Medicaid dental benefit or other dental insurance, and could not afford to pay out of pocket for needed dental services.

“At Kool Smiles, we believe every family deserves high-quality, affordable and compassionate dental care,” said Dr. Brad Bryan, Managing Dental Director for Kool Smiles in Louisiana. “Our mission is to provide a dental home to every family who needs one by accepting insurance plans – including Medicaid and TRICARE – that many dentists do not. We also know there are times when insurance does not cover needed treatments, and families can’t afford to pay out of pocket for those services. We believe it’s our moral and professional duty to provide uncompensated care in those situations so that …

Read More

National Black Caucus of State Legislators adopts 2017 Policy Resolution in support of DSOs

Published by Dentistry IQ

As part of its policy priorities for 2017, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) has resolved to support the nation’s leading dental support organizations (DSOs) in their mission to provide affordable, quality dental services to underserved populations across the United States. The policy resolution, “HHS-17-17: A Resolution to Stand in Support of Dental Support Organizations,” was ratified during the NBCSL’s Annual Legislative Conference, held Dec. 2-5, 2016.

According to the NBCSL, DSOs play a key role in expanding access to dental care among underserved populations. Approximately 47% of the patients served by the nation’s largest DSO are African American, and DSOs serve 20% to 25% of the Medicaid patients in some states. DSOs also increase operational efficiency and lower dental care costs, allowing dental service providers to increase acceptance of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) beneficiaries.

The NBCSL also stated that DSOs provide significant cost-savings to state Medicaid programs, citing a health policy analysis completed by Dobson DaVanzo & Associates, which found that expanding the DSO model in select …

Read More

DSOs are Helping to Bridge the ‘Dental Divide’ for Children

Published by Morning Consult

When it comes to the health of our nation’s children, there should be no debate: Every child – no matter his or her background – deserves access to quality healthcare.

As dental providers observe April’s National Minority Health Month, we have much to celebrate when it comes to increasing dental care insurance coverage for minority children. Passage of the Affordable Care Act and state Medicaid expansions have helped us make significant progress in bringing quality dental coverage to more vulnerable children who need it.

Yet despite these positive advances in dental health coverage, a troubling trend persists:  Low-income minority children are still twice as likely to have untreated tooth decay as Caucasian children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This so-called “dental divide” – the socio-economic gap that exists between children whose families can afford access to dental care, and those who cannot – is even more pronounced when viewed through the lens of poverty. Specifically, young children in families with income below the poverty line are nearly three times more …

Read More

Laffer: Bridging the dental divide for Texas children on Medicaid

Published by the Austin American-Statesman

Back in 2012, I delved into a topic of utmost importance and surprising depth: children’s dental health. For years, many dentists chose not to treat Medicaid patients. From an economic point of view, it was really no surprise; providers willing to treat the state’s most vulnerable patients faced prohibitively low reimbursement rates, while also being asked to bear prohibitively high administrative costs. As a result, many low-income children simply didn’t receive the dental care they needed.

Given the lifelong health consequences of poor dental health — as well as the rising costs associated with expensive emergency room visits for untreated tooth decay – Texas decided to act in 2007, raising Medicaid reimbursement rates in order to incentivize dentists to serve Medicaid patients. While many dentists continued to avoid low-income populations, something incredible took hold. That is, American entrepreneurs provided a free-market solution to a public health problem.

Specifically, dental practices supported by Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) began opening their doors to Medicaid patients. They were able to do so because DSOs tapped into economies …

Read More

Smears Against ‘Corporate Dentistry’ Are Not Based In Fact

Published by Forbes

There is an increasingly large body of evidence demonstrating that dental hygiene is important to one’s overall health, which means ensuring access to dental care at prices consumers can afford is critical to public health. This makes it all the more troubling to see Dr. Bernard Larson, the incoming president of the Washington State Dental Association, take to the pages of the Seattle Times to publicly attack and spread misinformation about organizations that are helping to reduce costs and expand access to dental care in Washington State.

For over three decades, dentists have been able to operate more efficiently, bring down costs, and expand access to care by employing a business model that has been used for a long time by a number of other medical professionals, such as oncologists, emergency room managers, optometrists and other doctors. Dentists have accomplished this by contracting with companies, referred to as Dental Support Organizations (DSOs). DSOs handle non-clinical, administrative functions, such as property management, bookkeeping, payroll and marketing. There is now legislation pending in the Washington State Legislature, …

Read More

Competition’s latest battlefield – the practice of dentistry

Published by The Hill Congress Blog

One of the major, 20th-century body blows to free enterprise was delivered by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1955, via a decision against Oklahoma opticians in a case brought by rival optometrists and ophthalmologists. The latter had convinced the state legislature to pass a law limiting the ability of opticians to provide consumers with corrective lenses. Liberal Associate Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the High Court that state legislators no longer would need to provide a clear, or even a rational basis for restricting one class of business or profession in order to benefit another.

The reasoning in that decision (Williamson v. Lee Optical ) remains to this day one of the favored legal shields with which established business and professional interests protect themselves from real or perceived rivals seeking to enhance competition or lower costs. The 60-year old decision came to my mind recently as I reflected on a pair of articles relating to the practice of dentistry in my home state of Georgia and nationally.

The first catalyst for jogging …

Read More