MetLife Offers Employers Tips for Evaluating Dental Provider Networks

Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:30am EDT

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MetLife Offers Employers Tips for Evaluating Dental Provider Networks

Look Beyond Size and Discounts When Assessing Effects on Savings and Satisfaction

Employers that evaluate a dental provider network by size alone can potentially limit savings to their dental benefits plans and employees. MetLife, a leading provider of dental plan administration for nearly 20 million people, today announced the availability of a new guide, Check the Label: To Find the Dental Network That’s Right for Your Company, which offers tips for evaluating the value proposition of dental provider networks. The guide is available at www.metlife.com/dentalinsights.

“While a large network is important with the access and potential savings it provides to employees, you should look beyond these numbers alone,” says Alan Hirschberg, vice president, MetLife Dental Products. “It is important to know whether the network size and the negotiated fees with each dentist are actually driving value and savings for your company. To do this, take your network analysis to the next level by looking at the effective discount, which takes into account a network's level of discounts and how often they're used. Check the Label highlights how it’s the combination of having the dentists employees want to see, at competitive fees, that matters most to producing savings for the benefit plan and increasing employee satisfaction.”

Determining Size of the Network

While network size is important to ensure appropriate access, size comparisons may overlook differences such as counting methodology, file maintenance and utilization of dentists in the network. Since there is no industry standard for counting network dentists, Hirschberg stresses the importance of understanding what the numbers represent – and to consider if a dentist has significant patient volume or capacity for growth.

Determining In-Network Negotiated Fees (Discounts)

Check the Label offers advice about comparing multiple provider network negotiated fees and the importance of looking beyond the basic numbers to understand if and how the negotiated fees drive the dental plan’s value and savings. For example, what are fees based on? Is the same denominator (ideally, the actual average area charges) being used when comparing different networks?

Determining Effective Discount

It is important for benefits managers to take their network analyses further to understand how the needs and behaviors of their employees align with how carriers balance network size, negotiated fees and utilization for effective discounts.

Understand what’s driving effective discounts. Does the network provide good access and strong negotiated fees, but utilization is weak because of other factors (e.g., plan design)? Would growing the network in certain areas increase or decrease effective discounts?

“Obviously, it is important to have a dental network that offers employees choice and location convenience, but there are many other criteria to evaluate in order to optimize plan value and employee savings and satisfaction. Like many big purchase decisions, it pays to ‘check the label’ upfront,” adds Hirschberg.

MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in over 60 countries. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East. For more information, visit www.metlife.com.

MetLife
Karen Eldred, 212-578-9561
keldred@metlife.com