Niagara Gazette

June 17, 2013

Discount dental care pitched in Niagara County

Staff reports
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A county legislature panel has been asked a second time to get behind a program offering discounted dental services to residents.

An agent of Rochester-based Health Economics Group, a third-party insurance negotiator, presented details of the group’s Dental Network Card Program to the community services committee Monday.

The card program is not dental insurance, it’s more like a membership club. Individuals and families that buy membership have access to basic and advanced dental services for 30 to 40 percent less than going rates for non-insured patients, according to Eric R. Lintala, director of business development for Health Economics Group.

Participating dentists and practices are part of the 100,000-member, nationwide DenteMax network. In Lockport, most but not all of 52 participating dentists are with Aspen Dental.

The card costs $36.50 per year per individual or $52 per year for a family. After paying the fee, cardholders are given a list of area dentists who’ll provide services at discounted rates, for example: an exam and a cleaning, $74 versus the going rate in Western New York, $110; tooth extraction, $79 versus $119; a porcelain crown, $641 versus $941; and a molar root canal, $656 versus $1,056.

Retired persons and employees of small businesses seem most receptive to the card program, according to Lintala.

Health Economics Group is asking Niagara County to “sponsor” the card program here, meaning endorse and help promote it in various ways including permitting H.E.G. to market the program to clients of the county Office for the Aging.

The program is endorsed by the well-respected New York State Association of Counties and is officially sponsored by eight counties now including Orleans, Chautauqua, Broome and Nassau. That’s two more counties than in mid-2011, when H.E.G. first approached the county, and about a half-dozen more including Genesee and Wyoming are coming on board, Lintala said.

Through word of mouth, almost 200 Niagara County residents already are Dental Network card holders, according to Lintala.

Anyone can join, he said. Card holders have to re-enroll every year — it’s not automatic, he said — and about 60 percent do.

For more information about the program and enrollment, visit www.heginc.com/nysac.