Johnson County plans to look at dental discount program

BY ANNA EGELAND | JULY 26, 2012 6:30 AM

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Johnson County Supervisor Terrence Neuzil is looking to make dental care more accessible for Johnson County residents after returning from a recent conference.

“You get the chance to not only visit with colleagues,” he said of the conference. “… You get perspective, you’re also re-energized.”

Neuzil said he learned more about a dental discount program, which is free for the county and provides significant savings on dental and orthodontic care for eligible residents. He specified that the program is not insurance or Medicare and it is only for residents who qualify.

“We’re excited to explore the possibility of a dental discount program,” he said.

Neuzil said Johnson County adopted a similar program, the NACo prescription drug program, several years ago. 

Neuzil said the program would allow eligible residents to save up to 50 percent on routine dental care and 20 percent on orthodontic care.

Neuzil said the National Association of Counties, held July 13-17 in Pittsburgh, gave him a chance to compare Johnson County with other counties across the country.

“I’m pretty proud to say Johnson County is at the forefront of a lot of initiatives,” he said.

Neuzil said one of the challenges of the discount dental program is identifying local dentists and orthodontists to partner with for the plan.

“Because it’s such a new program, we’re just starting to get the word out,” Neuzil said.

The next steps will be forwarding the packet and contacts to Lynette Jacoby, Johnson County social services director, who will then communicate with dentists around the community, Neuzil said.

Jacoby will then forward the information to the Johnson County Board of Supervisors, who will decide whether or not to pass a resolution to approve the program. Neuzil said he expects the board to discuss the program sometime in the next few months.

Jacoby said the county is very interested in implementing the program.

“If you’re uninsured, it’s very difficult to access dental care,” Jacoby said, noting the program will allow eligible residents to purchase dental care at discounted prices.

Jacoby said she anticipates making contact with Aspen Dental, 1810 N. Coral St., in Coralville, as it is already participating in a NACo prescription discount program.

Kasey Pickett, director of communications at Aspen Dental Management, Inc., said all 13 Aspen Dental locations in the state would accept the dental discount program, if the counties were to implement the program.

“This is absolutely something we would work with,” she said.

Pickett said Aspen Dental Inc. tries to breakdown cost barriers to make dental care more accessible.

“I would say overall, from an Aspen Dental standpoint, the goal is really to work with as many insurance programs as possible,” Pickett said.

Neuzil said it is unlikely that any other counties in Iowa have already adopted the program as it was just introduced a couple weeks ago at the NACo conference.

“Because it’s so brand-new, I highly doubt it,” he said.

According to the NACo official website, the dental discount program provides a card, which is usually for people who are uninsured but can also “complement health insurance plans or work with health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts and health reimbursement arrangements.”

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