- The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in federal court in Jackson.
- One in three Americans with dental insurance get it through Delta Dental.
- Dentists are not fairly compensated for services, lawsuit says.
A Brandon dentist has filed a class-action lawsuit against Delta Dental, the nation’s largest dental insurer, accusing the company of price-fixing and conspiracy to lower the amount paid to dentists.
Dentist William Dickey filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Jackson.
Dickey’s lawsuit says Delta Dental wields considerable market power by compelling dentists to accept below-market reimbursement for dental services.
Delta Dentist corporate officials couldn’t be reached for comment.
One in three Americans with dental insurance are insured through Delta Dental, which serves more than 80 million Americans, and three out of every four dentists in America are part of the Delta Dental system, according to the lawsuit.
“These reimbursement terms do not fairly compensate dentists for those services,” Dickey’s lawsuit says. “Yet, defendants are able to compel dentists to accept these terms through standardized provider service contracts that are offered on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis, with no room for negotiation, and with complete control of rates and terms.”
Delta Dental plans across the country don’t allow each other to compete in territories where other Delta Dental plans operate. Dickey believes if there were competition, dentists would have more opportunities to receive fairer compensation.
As a result of Delta Dental’s action, dentists are making less income, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit says the American Dental Association has developed research which shows that dentists’ average, inflation-adjusted net income from 2001-18 has declined significantly, due in large part to the anti-competitive conduct of Delta Dental.
The Mississippi Dental Association said in a statement as professionals with advanced degrees and training, dentists should be fairly and adequately compensated for their services.
“:While it would be inappropriate to speak to the merits of this individual lawsuit there are multiple examples where both public and private third party payors ratchet down their compensation to the point dental practices can not afford to treat patients,” MDA said.
As a result of Delta Dental’s continuing violations of Section One and Three of the Sherman Act, Dickey said he and other members of the Mississippi class of dentists have suffered and continue to suffer injury and damages of the type federal antitrust laws were designed to prevent.
The lawsuit states unlawful conduct has led to dentists being paid less, forced to accept far less favorable rates and other contract terms, and/or having fewer patients.
The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, asks for Delta Dental plans across the country be prohibited from restricting areas where plans may compete, prohibit retaliation against any plaintiff involved in the lawsuit or any remedy, and seeks an unspecified amount of damages.