Thursday, August 22, 2019

Delta Dental Helps Beneficiaries Keep ‘More Than a Nice Smile’

By on July 19, 2019

Editor’s note: The following was first published in the July 18-24, 2019, issue of Caribbean Business.

In 1984, a group of local dentists saw the urgent need for a stand-alone health plan that addressed the dental needs of the people of Puerto Rico. Thirty-five years later, that plan, Delta Dental of Puerto Rico Inc., continues its mission of helping ensure the dental healthcare of its subscribers.

“Back then medical plans did not have an encompassing dental health component so the founders of Delta Dental launched the company with the aim of covering all essential services to address the oral healthcare of people,” said Marianne Ortiz, president & chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Puerto Rico. “We have carried on the founding mission of promoting oral healthcare as a priority for people, and that maintaining good oral health can be effective in the prevention of other healthcare conditions.”

Marianne Ortiz, president & chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Puerto Rico

Currently, Delta Dental has more than 1,175 providers contracted in over 1,600 locations, with a presence in the 78 municipalities including Vieques and Culebra. The more than 500,000 beneficiaries of the plan can select the provider of their choice online, the mobile application or the printed version of the directory. The company’s dedication to high service concept means that Delta Dental enjoys great loyalty on the part of its policyholders, with a retention rate of 97.53 percent.

Delta Dental offers coverage that includes diagnostic and preventive services such as exams, X-rays, cleanings, topical application of fluoride, space maintainers and fissure sealants as well as restorative services in amalgam (silver) or resin, endodontics (root canal), periodontics and oral surgery. Another huge task assumed by Delta Dental was to establish and promote the coverage of orthodontic appliances or “braces” to cover an important medical need.

“Really the braces are installed to correct deficient bites, bad position of the teeth that cause bleeding or ulcers, mobility in teeth or pain in the jaw,” Ortiz said. “Educating and guiding has always been a determining factor in the approach of Delta Dental toward Puerto Rico, and thousands of patients have benefited from orthodontic appliances, improving not only their oral health, but also strengthening their social life and self-esteem.”

“We have set ourselves goals at Delta Dental that include our ongoing business diversification process and continue marketing our individual products as well, which have had such a great reception from the public,” said Ortiz, adding that among the products and services that the company has launched is DeltaVision, which aims to address the visual needs of subscribers. “But our core mission will be our commitment to create awareness about oral health, especially oral wellness, and that by visiting our dentists regularly we achieve more than just maintaining a nice smile.”

Medical studies, such as the one reported by the Mayo Clinic in June 2019, reveal that heart disease, obstructed arteries and even strokes could be related to inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause, said Ortiz. Likewise, a recent study by the University of Bergen in Norway also identified the possible relationship of gum disease with Alzheimer’s disease.

Delta Dental’s most recent growth strategy includes the acquisition of important customers of the pharmaceutical industries and large retailers. Also seeking to diversify its business, and maximizing knowledge about dental coverage, Delta Dental has also made alliances with other insurers through which it manages the dental coverage of beneficiaries of Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans in Puerto Rico.

“Despite the challenges of recent times, we remained focused on serving our clients, completing and executing our strategies and looking for new business opportunities,” said Ortiz. “Also, our relationship with our providers has been essential to our growth, not only knowing their needs but also in our punctuality in payments.”

In fact, of the 520,860 claims processed in 2018, 99.87 percent were paid correctly, with Delta Dental providers receiving weekly payments, and the average time it takes to process a claim is less than three days.



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