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Will local insurers enter the discount market?


Though Principal Financial Group Inc. does not directly sell discount dental plans, it recently partnered with discount plan provider New Dental Choice, which added the Principal Dental Access Network to the list of dentists that members of that plan can access nationwide. The New Dental Choice plan is a service of First Dental Health, one of the largest independent dental network management companies in California and an Inc. 5000 fastest-growing company in 2010 and 2011.

“By working with New Dental Choice, we’re able to bring added benefits to our network providers and to consumers,” said Theresa McConeghey, an assistant vice president with Principal, in a press release. “This relationship helps dentists attract new patients and provides members with access to quality care at discounted fees.”

The plan offers savings from 15 to 60 percent on all common dental procedures and has no annual maximum benefit.

Delta Dental organizations in some states, among them Kansas and Oklahoma, have recently begun offering their own discount dental plans. Delta Dental of Iowa doesn’t have any immediate plans to offer a discount plan, spokeswoman Jill Hamilton said.

“We just got into the individual market in the last few years, so we are still looking at the market,” she said. “I wouldn’t say we’re ruling it out, but it’s not something that we’re actively pursuing at this time.”

There have been indications that Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is developing a discount dental plan to launch next year, but Wellmark officials declined to comment on it.

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