Self-Reported Satisfaction of Enrollees in Capitated and Fee-for-Service Dental Benefit Plans

Published in: Journal of the American Dental Association, v. 135, no. 10, Oct. 2004, p. 1458-1466

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2004

by Ian D. Coulter, James Freed, Marvin Marcus, Claudia Der-Martirosian, Norma Guzman-Becerra, Albert H. Guay, L. D. Brown

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BACKGROUND: This article examines the impact of capitated, or CAP, and fee-for-service, or FFS, dental benefit plans on the enrollees' satisfaction with their plans and their satisfaction with their dentists. METHODS: The authors selected four dental markets: California, New Jersey, Michigan and North Carolina. Eight Fortune 500 companies participated. Enrollees were selected randomly and interviewed about their experiences with their dental plans. The sample consisted of 2,340 respondents, of whom 42.3 percent were enrolled in CAP plans and 57.7 percent in FFS plans. RESULTS: The major findings were that those enrolled in FFS plans were four times more likely to be very satisfied than dissatisfied with their dental plans than were those in CAP plans. The FFS plan enrollees were 16 times more likely to be very satisfied than dissatisfied with their dentists than were those in CAP plans. CONCLUSION: Enrollees generally were satisfied with their plans and their dentists but those in FFS plans were the most satisfied. The higher the premium paid, the higher the level of satisfaction. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: Enrollees with perceived unmet needs were less satisfied with their dental benefit plans and dentists. Taking care of needs is the most significant thing dentists can do to affect patients' satisfaction.

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