Dental Care and the Health Maintenance Organization Concept

The principal dental diseases, caries and periodontal disease, affect almost the entire population and result in considerable pain and discomfort, with eventual tooth loss, if untreated. These disorders can either be prevented or their effects minimized through dental intervention so that intact functioning dentitions can be maintained. Despite the fact that enough practicing dentists probably exist in the United States to achieve these results, the majority of the population lose all of their natural teeth if they live out their normal life spans. The solo-practice fee-for-service system, even with third-party payment, may reduce the difficulties somewhat but cannot solve the problem. Prepaid dental group practice, either independently or as part of a general health care system, has the potential of virtually eliminating edentulism in populations for which it has responsibility. At present, it is possible to project costs and resource needs with sufficient accuracy to start viable entities. The “health maintenance organization” concept, therefore, applies to dental care.

Author(s): Max H. Schoen

Download the Article

Read on JSTOR

Volume 53, Issue 2 (pages 173–193)
Published in 1975