New Web Calculator Shows Dentists Can Earn Big Savings Through Electronic Claims Submission

Jan. 3, 2002
Online Tool Quickly Adds Up Costs Avoided Due to Reduced Paperwork, Staff Time, and Postage Costs.

California's largest dental plan unveiled today a new web-based

calculator that shows dentists how much they can save when using

electronic claims submission (ECS) for their insured patients.

The new online calculator, located at,

demonstrates that depending on various factors, an average California

dentist can save more than $3,400 annually, or as many as 25 days in

staff time using ECS to process claims bound for Delta Dental Plan of

California or any other dental carrier.

Delta officials report that 34 percent of the estimated 60,000

dental claims the company receives daily arrive electronically -- a

figure they want to increase by getting more California dentists to

automate their claims submission.

"ECS means less paperwork, better cash flow, more streamlined

office procedures and lower processing costs, which ultimately

benefits dentists, subscribers and the Delta clients who sponsor

dental benefit plans," said Marilynn Belek, DMD, Delta's senior vice

president of Professional Services. "The web calculator offers

compelling evidence that it pays to make optimal use of ECS


ECS involves computer-generated claims integrated with practice

management software that can run on basic, relatively inexpensive

office computer systems. Dental offices transmit their completed

claims via modem to an electronic clearinghouse, where they are

screened, batched into a single data stream, then transmitted to

insurance and benefit companies such as Delta Dental for review and

payment. Claims requiring more information are rapidly returned by the

clearinghouse with a notation or flag that helps dental offices

quickly correct the error and retransmit the claim -- a process that

can take days with paper-based claims.

Delta's new web calculator, linked to the dentist section of the

company's corporate web site, asks users to fill in only six

relatively simple fields to see just how much time and money ECS can

save the particular practice. Dentists need only enter their average

patient volume, the percent covered by insurance, the number of days

in a week and weeks in a year they see patients, and the number of

staff they employ to bill for treatment. They also need to provide the

average annual salary of those staff.

After submitting the data, which is neither monitored nor captured

by Delta staff, the calculator quickly performs an analysis that

compares all costs associated with paper versus electronic claims,

including the expense of postage, forms and envelopes, the amount of time required to generate paper versus electronic claims and the

transmission fees paid to an electronic clearinghouse.

Based on a dental office that sees 20 patients a day, 80 percent

of which are covered by insurance, the calculator shows savings of

$3,456 of annual savings with ECS over paper claims, according to Dr. Belek. "Obviously, that is a figure that can go up or down

significantly depending on an office's insured patient volume."

Delta Dental President and CEO Gary D. Radine says a major

strategy for the company and its affiliates around the country is to

harness the power of the Internet, ECS and other technologies so that

savings can be passed along to customers and subscribers.

"We are not only expanding ECS, but developing web claims

submission and deploying a number of other new work management and customer-oriented technologies to improve every aspect of our service and data control," said Radine. "Of course, to reap the full advantage of some of these technologies, we must convince those who work with us as business partners to accept and integrate these tools into their own office practices."