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Aetna’s Dental Medical Integration Program May Help Lower Costs and Result in Better Health

Posted on Friday, October 11, 2013


Hartford, Conn. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Results of an analysis of Aetna’s Dental Medical Integration (DMI) program show that good dental health may reduce medical costs and improve overall health. To date, DMI program members who visited the dentist have lowered their medical claim costs by an average of 17%[1], improved diabetes control by 45%[2], used 42% less major and basic dental services[1], and required 3.5% fewer hospital admissions year-over-year compared to a 5.4% increase for non-members[1].

“The mission of our DMI program is to keep our members healthy and reduce their cost of health care,” said Mary Lee Conicella, DMD and Chief Dental Officer for Aetna. “We’ve proactively reached over 1.5 million members since the program began. The results show that members with coordinated dental and medical care are healthier.”

The DMI program launched in 2007. It was the result of research Aetna completed with Columbia University College of Dental Medicine that found:

-- Members who received preventive dental treatment while pregnant had 25% lower pre-term delivery rates and 34% fewer incidents of low birth weight[3], and

-- Members with diabetes or cardiovascular disease who received dental care had an average of 27% lower risk scores[4].

The DMI program uses technology to automatically identify members with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or who are pregnant. Members with those medical conditions who have not recently seen the dentist receive education by mail and phone on the importance of regular dental care. Aetna dental coordinators are available to help DMI members choose a dentist and schedule an appointment. DMI members qualify for enhanced dental benefits such as an extra cleaning and periodontal services covered at 100% to help prevent more serious and costly issues. The enhanced dental benefits are not subject to deductible or coinsurance and do not count toward annual plan maximums. There is no added cost to members or plan sponsors for the DMI program.


[1] Ongoing statistically valid analysis of Aetna DMI customers. Aetna Informatics, 2010 – 2012.

[2] Of the diabetic members in DMI program who started going to the dentist, 17.8% are poorly controlled. For diabetic members in comparable group with no DMI program, 32.6% are poorly controlled.

[3] Of the members in the DMI program who received dental treatment while pregnant, including 3 months before and 3 months after pregnancy, only 7.6% had pre-term delivery. For pregnant members in a comparable group with no preventive dental care, 10.1% had pre-term delivery; David A. Albert, Melissa D. Begg, Howard F. Andrews, Sharifa Z. Williams, Angela Ward, Mary Lee Conicella, Virginia Rauh, Janet L. Thomson, and Panos N. Papapanou. An Examination of Periodontal Treatment, Dental Care, and Pregnancy Outcomes in an Insured Population in the United States. American Journal of Public Health: January 2011, Vol. 101, No. 1, pp. 151-156. doi: 10.2105/ AJPH.2009.185884.

[4] Joint study with Columbia University College of Dental Medicine and Albert DAA, Sadowsky D, Papapanou P, Conicella ML, Ward A. An examination of periodontal treatment and per member per month (PMPM) medical costs in an insured population. BMC Health Services Research 2006; 6:103. Continued analysis of retrospective study shows sustained correlation, Aetna Health Analytics, August 2008.

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