Health Share of Oregon Will Offer Members a Choice of Eight Dental Health Plans Beginning in January 2014
Beginning in January 2014, Health Share of Oregon, the state’s largest coordinated care organization, will take a step forward in fully integrated health care delivery by offering the Oregon Health Plan members it serves a choice of eight dental plans.
Good oral health is critical to ensuring physical wellness and preventing serious illness. Research has long shown a direct connection between oral health and chronic physical ailments, including diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease. Integrating the dental care system with physical and mental health care delivery has been an important goal of the Oregon Health Authority.
“Our new dental partners have a wealth of knowledge and ideas they bring to our health reform efforts,” said Janet L. Meyer, Chief Executive Officer for Health Share. “This is a significant step forward as we work with them to explore how we begin to integrate dental care, whether it’s through the delivery of care, shared health information or other means.”
While integrating the dental care system into physical and mental health care will include some logistical challenges, such as merging diagnostic codes, the benefits far outweigh the difficulties. Dental care remains the top health care need for low income adults, older adults and children with special health care needs.
“A group of dental care plans have been meeting collaboratively for several months in preparation for CCO integration” said Kevin Boie, Chief Financial Officer for Access Dental Plan. “I am looking forward to working with Health Share and its dental partners to achieve a fully integrated health care delivery system which places oral health as an important component to overall health.”
Health Share leadership has long considered the benefits of integrating dental care and dentists have had a voice at Health Share since the CCO was formed in 2012. Dr. Michael Biermann, a practicing dentist in Portland, serves on the Health Share Board of Directors.
Addressing dental care is critical to Health Share’s mandate to achieve the Triple Aim of better access to health care and better health outcomes delivered at a lower cost. ”It’s just too important to wait,” noted Meyer.
Dental emergencies are a factor in the number of hospital emergency room visits, a critical area to address when reducing health care costs. People diagnosed with mental health or addictions are also significantly more likely to have poor dental health, due to the effects of medications, alcohol and drugs, often in combination with poor oral hygiene. And ensuring preventive dental care for pregnant women and children will help ensure a lifetime of better oral and physical health for Oregonians.
Eight dental plans
In January, Health Share is contracting with eight dental care plans to provide care to its over 165,000 members:
· Access Dental Care
· Capitol Dental Care
· CareOregon Dental
· Family Dental Care
· Kaiser Permanente Dental
· Managed Dental Care of Oregon
· ODS Community Health Dental Plan
· Willamette Dental Group
Health Share will add Advantage Dental shortly thereafter, but Health Share members are still able to choose Advantage Dental by receiving their dental services directly through the dental plan until it is fully integrated under Health Share.