Are you aware of the regulatory changes affecting your dental plan?
If your answer is no, then let Gary Anders give you a heads up, as there’s no denying that for practices offering dental plans the impact of the recent change could be huge.
The Insurance Distribution Directive is a new piece of EU legislation that came in to force on the 1 October 2018. It impacts how the insurance element of your dental plan is organised and promoted to patients and means you’re no longer able to lock the dental plan and emergency and accident insurance together to offer them as one product. In essence, the directive insists that to continue offering the insurance benefit, customers must be given the choice of whether they want to take out the insurance or not – and this choice is entirely down to the patient to make.
At DPAS, when we learned of this impending legislation back in 2017, it’s fair to say that we had a few concerns.
1. The administrative burden
The time your team will need to invest in monitoring which customers have insurance and which don’t.
2. Operating out-of-hours rotas
When treating plan patients from another practice, how easy it would be for everyone on an out-of-hours rota to understand which patients were eligible for emergency treatment and which ones aren’t?
3. Your patients’ needs
We’ve always had, and still do have, the belief that a dental plan should meet all of the needs of a patient seeking a fully rounded oral health maintenance programme, which includes the provision for unforeseen accidents and emergencies. With the changes in legislation, this wouldn’t always be the case.
4. Supporting patients
Only the patient can make the decision as to whether they include the insurance or not. Practice teams offering the patient advice would put themselves at risk of breaching the FCA regulations and we know from years and years of dealing with dentists that patients look to them for advice – they trust them implicitly and so would naturally ask what’s the right thing for them. These instances could be tricky to navigate.
We felt the concerns from practices were too great to ignore and as such, after seeking very extensive legal advice, we decided to move away from offering insurance in favour of introducing a discretionary scheme – Worldwide Dental Emergency Assistance Scheme* (the Scheme) – to mitigate these concerns and burdens. As the Scheme is not a contract of insurance, it’s not impacted by IDD and so doesn’t run the risk of our practices breaching FCA regulations. Importantly, it can form an integral part of a dental plan and therefore be made available to all dental plan patients. Not only has our solution offered simplicity and peace of mind to all our practices but since its launch in November 2017 we’ve accepted over 97% of requests for assistance.
* The scheme allows patients to request assistance in the event of unforeseen dental trauma and dental emergencies. As a wholly discretionary scheme, it is for the scheme manager to decide how the scheme will respond to the requests for assistance. This means that whilst the scheme manager expects to accept most requests, there may be circumstances in which the scheme manager may decide to pay no benefit – a fairly obvious example of when that may happen is if a patient suffers a self-inflicted injury.