Authorities in California say that a Sacramento dentist not only performed unnecessary procedures on patients in order to rack up huge payments from insurance companies, but that he also enticed UPS employees into undergoing unneeded work because the company’s dental plan had no co-pay and no maximum dollar limit.
CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming recently uncovered a document from the California Attorney General’s office to the state’s Dental Board in support of the dentist’s suspension.
According to the document, the dentist would “send his employees to UPS warehouse locations with food and drinks to… pass out referral flyers and food to UPS employees and explain they could receive $200.00 for referring a fellow UPS employee for treatment at [the dentist’s] office.”
The referred patient would allegedly receive approximately $30.00 and a free Sonicare toothbrush.
“[The dentist] would use this referral tactic to attract UPS patients to his practice and proceed to conduct excessive and unnecessary treatments on the UPS patients because of their exceptional dental insurance coverage,” reads the document.
One of the doctor’s former dental assistants told investigators that people from the office would pay “weekly or bi-weekly” visits to the UPS warehouse and that the office treated between one to four UPS workers each day. In fact, says the former assistant, UPS employees were the “main focus” of the practice.
And it wasn’t just UPS workers that were getting unnecessary work performed. In addition to unneeded procedures, the dentist is also accused of billing insurance companies for work that was never done, sometimes on teeth a patient no longer had.
Between 2006 and 2009, the dentist’s annual charges to just one insurance company jumped from $154,000 to $870,000.
The state’s Dental Board suspended the doctor earlier this year, but he can’t be the only bad tooth-puller in the business.
Thus, Ming put together these tips for when you’re picking a dentist:
* Ask questions until the dentist has answered them satisfactorily
* Expect treatment plans to be explained clearly and understandably, including costs
* Get a second opinion – some plans require second opinions to be offered, while others allow for a second opinion to count as an examination
* Communicate expectations, goals and wishes – are perfectly straight, white teeth most important? Does it matter between silver-colored or tooth-colored fillings? Is a removable bridge preferred over a dental implant?
Call Kurtis Investigates: Drilling for Dollars [CBS Sacramento]