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BMC Health Serv Res. 2007 Nov 15;7:184.

Dental practice satisfaction with preferred provider organizations.

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  • 1University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine, Department of Oral Health and Diagnostic Sciences, Division of Behavioral Sciences and Community Health, MC 3910, 263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06030-3910, USA.



Despite their increasing share of the dental insurance market, little is known about dental practices' satisfaction with preferred provider organizations (PPOs). This analysis examined practice satisfaction with dental PPOs and the extent to which satisfaction was a function of communications from the plan, claims handling and compensation.


Data were collected through telephone surveys with dental practices affiliated with MetLife between January 2002 and December 2004. Each respondent was asked a series of questions related to their satisfaction with a systematically selected PPO with which they were affiliated. Six different PPO plans had sufficient observations to allow for comparative analysis (total n = 4582). Multiple imputation procedures were used to adjust for item non-response.


While the average level of overall satisfaction with the target plan fell between "very satisfied" and "satisfied," regression models revealed substantial differences in overall satisfaction across the 6 PPOs (p < .05). Statistically significant differences between plans in overall satisfaction were largely explained by differences in the perceived adequacy of compensation. However, differences in overall satisfaction involving two of the PPOs were also driven by satisfaction with claims handling.


Results demonstrate the importance of compensation to dental practice satisfaction with PPOs. However, these results also highlight the critical role of service-related factors in differentiating plans and suggest that there are important non-monetary dimensions of PPO performance that can be used to recruit and retain practices.

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