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County expands new discount dental program
Placed by : Looking for Dental 10-04-2007
Other counties in state are now eyeing Macomb's example
By Chad Selweski
Macomb Daily Staff Writer
Macomb County officials have expanded their discount dental program to include nearly 600 additional dentists in Macomb County who offer deep discounts to subscribers.
For an annual fee of $69 per household, the program provides 20 percent to 50 percent savings on a long list of dental procedures, including cleanings, fillings, X-rays, crowns and orthodontics.
Since the service began last July, more than 660 households -- representing more than 1,600 subscribers -- have enrolled.
When enrollment in the expanded program began last Monday, JoAnn Daniels of Shelby Township was one of the first to sign up. She and her husband are recent retirees who lost their dental insurance coverage last year.
"I was aware of the program and I had been tossing it around and I thought for $69 I should give it a try," said Daniels, 63. "I normally like to get my teeth cleaned twice a year, but when it's $150 you tend to stretch things out."
Enrollment is open to all Macomb County residents, with no income restrictions attached. County officials say no subscriber lives more than six miles from the nearest dentist, and many participants are able to keep their existing provider.
The program is the first of its kind in Michigan, with counties as far away as the Upper Peninsula looking to copy it.
The Macomb County Board of Commissioners boosted the program by recently affiliating with DenteMax, a subsidiary of Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Michigan with more than 2,000 members -- dentists and dental specialists -- across the Detroit metropolitan area.
The DenteMax network requires participating providers to follow a schedule of discounted fees. Dr. Lisa Zaborski, a dentist based in Shelby Township, said the program is free of gimmicks, and those on the discount list are treated the same as all other patients.
"This allows us to keep a good patient base, a constant flow," Zaborski said. "With the way the economy is now, some people are losing their jobs and losing their insurance."
County officials say those who have signed up for the program range from retirees to young workers who recently entered the job market.
Karen Bisdorf, assistant director of the county Department of Senior Citizen Services, said that some participants are jobless, but many have employers who offer limited health insurance coverage.
"What we are seeing," Bisdorf said, "is that there are a lot of people who are gainfully employed who have lost their dental benefits."
For more information on the dental discount program, call (586) 469-6313.