Dental for MetLife: An Interview with Dr. Alan Vogel

Tamsen Butler
Teeth

Dr. Alan Vogel, DMD, is the National Dental Director for Dental for MetLife. If you are looking for quality dental coverage then it's important to get the facts before you commit to any particular coverage. In this interview, Dr. Alan Vogel explains the benefits of Dental for MetLife and discusses the importance of choosing a quality dental insurance plan.

What are important factors to consider when choosing a dental insurance plan?

One of the first things you look at is price, but I would say that recently, on an individual basis, price is not necessarily the most important thing.

What we have seen is one of the key factors to look at are networks: Do you have a network? If my doctor is not in the network, how do you reimburse the doctor who is not in the network? What services does your plan cover? Does it cover a full gamut of services or not? How much money do you cover me for?

The other thing that we have seen that is very important for the patient to understand is: How easy is it for me to get information on the plan? For example, if you're a member of MetLife programs, how do I get information about the program? People can call up and they can go online, and if they go online there's a lot of information that they can get about the dental program. There is also a ton of information that they can get from us on understanding dental care.

What is the MetLife Preferred Dentist Program?

The MetLife Preferred Dentist Program is a nationwide managed care program through a network called a PPO (Preferred Provider Organization). It was one of the first national PPO programs that included credentialing a dentist …credentialing meaning looking at their background, looking at their licensing, and things of that nature. It also includes the discounts, and the discounts are based upon an average charge in the area and then a reduction off that, so truly targeted at saving money for the member going in-network.

Does MetLife offer any type of dental discount plan?

When you have a dental program through MetLife, you have in combination with that a discount program. The reason I say that is if you go to a dentist who is in our network, and the service that you're getting is not covered in the program - let's say you're getting a service like an implant, or a cosmetic crown, or something like that which is not normally included in a plan - that is still at the negotiated fee which is a discount. Any service not covered by our program is at a discount.

Does MetLife offer dental insurance to individuals?

MetLife sells dental benefits to groups, and the groups that we sell business to can be just two people. We have different distribution channels; we have those that deal with the largest companies in the national account arena, and those that deal with smaller companies. We do not have an individual product at this point where a person coming to us can say, "Can I get dental insurance with MetLife?" We're working on a product that will turn into an individual product in the near future. I would say within the next two years we can probably have an individual product.

Can MetLife customers choose their own dentist?

People covered by MetLife can choose any dentist they want. In fact, if they decide to go to a dentist and they're not happy with the choice - whether it's a network or non-network doctor - the next time they go they can pick another dentist. They do not have to tell us about this choice, they do not have to inform us in any way of the doctor they're going to. When the dentist submits a claim, we will then pay the claim.

One of the things we did when were designing our program is we want to make sure that the person who is getting dental benefits has all of the conveniences that they want in getting a plan, and one of the conveniences is going to any dentist of your choice. Another convenience is if the dentist is not in our network then we will still send the check to that dentist and if the dentist has any questions about our program, even though they may not be a part of our network, we still will give them an 800 number to call in so we can answer questions. Our goal is to satisfy the member who is covered by our plan, and to do that every dentist that is providing care has to be somebody we service.

What kind of questions should people ask their dentists prior to a costly procedure?

Be willing or not afraid to ask questions. I see many people … I'll say to you that you need to get this and this done and you say "Okay, thanks," you're not even going to ask me "Is there something else we can do, why do I need it?" I think they're almost afraid that if they ask too many questions of the doctor that they're liable to offend the doctor and therefore "Maybe they won't do as good of a job on me," or "Maybe the next time I come in they'll hurt me a little." There's a fear there. Believe me, dentists are not at all offended by someone asking questions about the care that they are being offered. In fact, that way the dentist feels much better by saying "Now that I've educated you to why, do you have any questions or concerns?"

It makes me, as a dentist, feel much better that you've asked me questions, I've answered them, you now understand why you're getting it, you've helped make that choice, now you should be more satisfied with the service.

About Dental for MetLife

Dental for MetLife provides coverage for over 20 million people. This excellent program has been recognized by the American Dental Association for their continuing education program designed to keep dental professionals up to date with the latest technology. For more information regarding Dental for MetLife visit the official website.

Dental for MetLife: An Interview with Dr. Alan Vogel