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    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Novocaine Riche: While medical reimbursement declines, dentistry is booming. Which makes doctors the poor relations of dentists:

    The turnabout in fortunes has made some dentists pity their physician colleagues. Robert H. Gregg, a dentist in Cerritos, Calif., says he had an operation for a snapped Achilles tendon a few years ago, which required him to go under general anesthesia for more than an hour. He was amazed his insurer paid just $2,000 to his orthopedic surgeon for the procedure. 'I get about $3,000 for a three-unit bridge,' Dr. Gregg says. 'He's getting pennies on the dollar to what his skill level was.'

    Dr. Gregg says he offered to pay more out of his own pocket. The surgeon's office manager, he adds, 'told me I was the first person' to ever make such a request.

    UPDATE:To this reader, dentists are head and shoulders above medical doctors:

    I've got quite a few dentists who are clients. In my professional capacity I have found them personable,respectful, grateful for services rendered, not technology-averse,and extremely hard-working in improving their businesses as businesses. For dentists the greatest business challenge is finding and retaining good staff.

    I've had medical doctors as clients, too. They've been smart, peremptory, technology-averse, knew more than I did about my own specialty (or gave that impression at any rate), jealous of their prerogatives, and slow to pay. I'm not sure what the greatest business challenge for medical doctors is today. It may be reimbursement.

    That having been said I think that there are other reasons for the change in fortunes of dentists.

    First, dentists don't seem to be quite as beholden to insurance companies as medical doctors are. Quite a few of my dentist clients don't accept insurance at all.

    Second, dentistry is structured quite a bit differently than medicine. The really successful dentists of my acquaintance are not just billing their own time but have quite a team of hygienists, etc. whose time they're billing.

    Have I mentioned that most dentists' offices (scores) I've been in are cleaner than the doctors' offices (also scores) I've been in?

    Are they really cleaner, or are they just more dazzling?

    posted by Sydney on 1/17/2005 11:31:00 PM 0 comments


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