Why do dentists join dental networks? Many dental networks promise that dentists who join will benefit from easier claims and administrative processes, more sustainable income streams, access to new patients and an opportunity to grow more profitable practices. Here’s a closer look at some pros and cons for joining dental networks.

Dental Networks Offer Free Advertising and Resources

Joining a provider network gives dentists immediate access to more patients—patients who they arguably would otherwise not have the ability to reach. Free advertising is a top perk, said Dr. Oksana Boyechko, who runs Shingle Springs Dental in the Sacramento, California, area. Shingle Springs Dental subscribes to as many as seven dental insurance networks at any given time so that patients are more likely to find the practice, Boyechko said.

Many networks and insurers also offer tools and resources that make it easier for providers and their employees to run their practices. For example, free online tools for electronic claims submissions make it faster to submit claims. Online benefits resources might include quick access to payment schedules or the ability to track claims.

Regular, Reliable Claim Payments

Dentists in networks also know that they will be paid when they submit claims, including how much they will be paid and, in many cases, how long until they will receive payment. Boyechko said it sometimes only takes two weeks from the time of a patient visit for her to receive payment from a network.

The trade-off to being able to count on more reliable payments, Boyechko said, is that dentists sometimes accept lower reimbursement rates from networks.

Better Dental Care

Networks help patients and doctors overcome initial concerns about fees and payments—concerns that keep some patients from visiting a dentist in the first place. “Because routine exams are often covered, the networks help patients get in the door and begin their journey to a better and healthier smile,” Boyechko said.

Freed from concerns about fees and payments, dentists can work with patients to create and implement optimal treatment plans. On the other hand, a recommended treatment plan might include a procedure that isn’t covered by the patient’s insurance plan.

Shared Expertise and Best Practices

Finally, dental insurance networks literally create a network and community of dental experts who can share knowledge to support and help each other improve patient care. For example, networks might offer reference guides or other resources to help dentists and their employees stay on top of best practices.

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