Advantage Dental Makes Inroads in Portland Area

Its presence is being boosted by television ads and social media.

Oregon’s largest dental Medicaid provider has teamed up with Legacy Health and its partner PacificSource Health Plans to expand its network.

The ultimate goal – help people lead healthier lives by controlling healthcare costs. “It’s a well-known fact that people who have healthy mouths cost our health system less,” said Mike Shirtcliff, president and CEO of Advantage Dental.

Traditionally, dental insurance has focused on getting a person’s teeth up to snuff, not on prevention. But Advantage has taken a different tack, believing that prevention is the ultimate solution, and it covers the dental exam, cleaning and x-rays without charging a copay or a deductible. Their dentists also talk to patients about nutrition and the importance of taking care of themselves.

When a patient comes in with an unhealthy mouth, Advantage dentists shy away from doing expensive treatments such as root canals or crowns. “People need to change their behavior before we do any of these procedures,” Shirtcliff said. “Otherwise it would be like performing a liver transplant on an alcoholic or a heart transplant on a smoker.”

Through its partnership with Legacy Health and PacificSource Health Plan, Advantage Dental is moving into Portland to compete with Moda Health by recruiting dentists.

In February, Advantage started spreading the word, advertising on the major television networks, in print ads and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter and broadening its appeal to Eugene and Salem.

“We’re asking patients to ask their dentists why they don’t have a contract with Advantage,” said Shirtlciff, calling this an educational campaign, with the intent of securing the Moda contract in 2018. “We want to help get people to dentists for basic services, that’s why we’re recruiting a bigger network of dentists. Right now most dentists only contract with Moda, and we believe there should be competition.”

In January, in line with their partnership, PacificSource became the health and dental insurance provider for Legacy Health’s 19,000 benefit-eligible employees and their families.

Advantage has affiliated with PacificSource since 2009 in an effort to bend the cost curve by lowering medical expenditures. “Our goal is the Triple Aim, lower per capita costs, improve better outcomes and improve quality. That’s why we partnered with PacificSource and Legacy, to help them do just that.”

Diane can be reached at [email protected].

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