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Washington State Dental Association

WDS Post Meeting

I just read the WDS board version of Rodney King’s “can’t we all just get along?”  They asked that we patiently read and consider their response to member supported amendments, as they listened and considered our concerns.  They then, of course, rejected all meaningful changes under the guise that it may hamper their antitrust concerns.  Mr. Dwyer asked that we all should try to have a meaningful dialog.  Curious, that that dialogue didn’t ever occur prior to slash and burn tactics of last spring.

I think it’s tragic, that, due to the perverse nature of non-profit law, a company like WDS can operate in its own vacuum of autonomy, not subject to shareholder’s protests, insulated from strikes by its workers (us) and free to use its cash horde in any way that its oligarchy sees fit.  Since it can’t declare profits, why not just divey up the money in salaries and benefits for the club.

Try to imagine WDS as a for-profit corporation.  Dentists could even be shareholders.  We might even get a dividend the next time WDS slashed fees to providers and kept more money.  We could elect directors at a shareholder’s meeting and maybe even fire the CEO if their performance was subpar. 

Alas, WDS uses its not-for-profit status like a magic cape to hide behind.  When it chooses, it tells us the many things it can’t do, for fear of unfairly benefiting its providers. I thought a non-profit status implied that that business was either a charity and/or for public benefit.  I guess, since Boeing can apply as much pressure as it wants to grind us down; it must be for public benefit.  It also uses the cape to hide behind if anyone calls it a monopoly.  Ask any Olympia dentist if they can function without belonging to the WDS PPO.  Strange, how WDS management has forgotten that it became the state’s largest dental insurance company by the support of its member dentists.  We started it and built it to its present status and now it is no better that any other PPO except that it holds too large of a percentage of patients in most offices.

To its credit, WDS picked an opportune business time to “adjust” fees.  Even though we had had no fee increase for 3 years, the current slow economy allowed them to “adjust” at a time when few of us can afford sever our relationship with them.  What they don’t realize is that even though we can’t collectively fight them, they have created an army of individual dentists who will “unfriend” them.  Who will talk to the patients in their individual offices who are decision makers for their companies or union leaders and suggest that at the next contract, they deal with an insurance company that will consider ethical treatment of its providers, a priority.  I’m sure we will see a resurgence in our efforts to increase direct reimbursement plans.  Perhaps when the economy turns around and many of our patients regain benefits, many individual dentists will then sever this tenuous relationship.

Watch healthcare company ads on TV, or listen to WDS baseball radio ads; insurance companies would have you believe that it is the insurance company that is there to take care of you, not the healthcare provider, MD, DDS (okay DMDs too) nurse or hygienist who delivers treatment.  If they say it long enough and convince the public, we have lost the battle and we might as well just do as they say.  

BTW, did I mention the Withhold?

-Dr. Tim Wandell, DDS
Hoquiam, WA

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