Saturday, January 19, 2013

February “Children’s Dental Health Month”– Parents and School Personnel Beware!

It’s almost that time of year again; February “Children’s Dental Health Month” or as I’ve come to call it “Chop Shop Victim Month”.  Like so many things, what started out with good intentions became a way for the crooks and unsavory dental mills to increase patient volume.  I suspect with their business model taking such a financial hit this past year, patient shopping is high on their list of priorities.

Here’s how it works. 

Schools and daycares in low income areas are called by the dental mill and asked if they would like to have a free dental screening day. All it is, a dental assistant doing a quick visual in each child’s mouth, no instruments used.

The dental assistant may be given a time limit for each child; 30 seconds or so. Parents fill out the form consenting to the screening which has all their contact information on it, it will probably also ask if they are on Medicaid or not.

Dental assistants have their little forms too.

The assistants will check off all kinds of stuff they have found in that 30 second “look see”: needs cleaning, three cavities, or suspicious area.  The assistant keeps a copy and a copy is sent home with the child.  The kids are rewarded with a dental goodie bag, maybe a toothbrush (from God knows where) toothpaste, maybe some floss is thrown in as well.

Let the patient shopping begin!  Back at the dental mill, office personnel are given the task to contact all the parents, preferably those just on Medicaid, and set up appointments.  It’s not unheard of to land 200 or more new patients victims by screening 400-500 kids at a couple of events.

We know the rest of this story; overtreatment and Medicaid fraud galore.

By the way, the ones doing these events get bonuses based on the number of new patients snagged, so it will be a “high pressure” sales call laced with quilt and intimidation.

Other dental mills will start having their dentists make the rounds on the local morning news shows announcing they are offering free screenings that very morning between 9am and 11am and parents need to call for an appointment. School age children are already in school so they are targeting the little ones, like they always do. That call will result in a large pool of folks to solicit in the new future. 

Also watch out for the mobile dental vans.  They will be hitting hard over the next several weeks as well.  Let me say, not all are bad one, but many are.  School personnel should be on alert and oversee these visits; in fact they should be overseeing ALL these visits!