Delta Dental: Celebrating 60 years of creating healthy smiles
No one knows the value of a healthy smile more than Delta Dental. As a leading dental benefits provider for 60 years, Delta Dental has always made dental care affordable for as many people as possible through quality group dental plans.
The early years
Since our establishment in 1957 as the Michigan Dental Service Corporation (MDSC), we set a standard of success marked by innovation that has shaped the modern dental benefits industry. The MDSC was established by a group of dentists to address the growing demand by American employees for better benefits, including dental coverage. Located in Lansing, Michigan, it was modeled after the nonprofit medical/surgical plans of the 1930s and 1940s. The corporation’s goal then was as it remains today for Delta Dental: to improve oral health by enabling more people to get the dental care they need.
In 1963, legislation passed in Michigan making it possible to form nonprofit dental service corporations that could underwrite risk. A new business entity, Dental Care, Inc., was established, and panels of participating dentists were created to ensure broad access to treatment. In 1968, the Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) agreed to market Delta Dental coverage to school groups and associations, extending quality, cost-effective care to thousands of Michigan residents.
As the 1970s dawned, Dental Care, Inc. changed its name to Delta Dental Plan of Michigan. Within a few years, more than 1,000 organizations were offering Delta Dental coverage to their employees or members, including UAW-represented employees at Michigan’s auto companies. The 1980s brought expanded growth, including an agreement with the State of Michigan in 1982 to provide dental benefits to all state employees. In 1991, the company signed its first contract with the Michigan Public School Employees Retirement system.
The 1980s brought significant business expansion beyond Michigan’s borders as well as a formalized structure for the organization’s philanthropic efforts. In 1982, Delta Dental Plan of Ohio—which had been operating since 1960—entered into a management agreement with Delta Dental Plan of Michigan. During the same year, Delta Dental Plan of Michigan made broader access to dental care available to Indiana citizens through the establishment of Delta Dental Plan of Indiana.
During the same decade, the organization formalized its grant-making through the establishment of the Delta Dental Foundation. Through the foundation, which provides grants to programs that improve oral health and advance dental science and education, and through the company’s community relations program, which supports initiatives that enhance quality of life, Delta Dental is truly fulfilling its nonprofit mission.
In the 1990s, the organization became known for its superior customer service. A state-of-the art claims electronic claims system was implemented that enhanced customer service. In addition, the company introduced an automated phone service and debuted its first generation of internet sites to provide 24/7 information to customers, members and dentists. Toward the end of the decade, Delta Dental expanded its commitment to Michigan communities by teaming up with the Michigan Department of Community Health to help children access dental care through the Healthy Kids Dental and MIChild programs.
The dawn of a new century
Moving into a new century brought advancements in technology and third-party validation of the organization’s commitment to quality.
Internet-based toolkits were launched to provide enhanced access to information for customers, members and dentists. To further assist dentists, Delta Dental launched a new company, Renaissance Systems and Services, to promote e-commerce and help dental offices lower their costs of doing business.
The Research and Data Institute was established in 2005 to develop new benefit plan designs based on scientific evidence and find new ways to improve business processes and service. The institute accesses and analyzes the organization’s massive data warehouse, which contains the world’s largest collection of dental claims data.
Joining with other organizations
In early 2006, Delta Dental of Michigan, with its affiliated companies in Ohio and Indiana, and Delta Dental of Tennessee, signed an affiliation agreement under a new nonprofit holding company to strengthen their market positions and increase the number of Americans with dental benefits. In 2009-2010, Delta Dental of Kentucky, Delta Dental of New Mexico and Delta Dental of North Carolina affiliated with the family of companies. The newest affiliate, Delta Dental of Arkansas, joined the enterprise in 2012.
The enterprise provides coverage for more than 12.8 million members. In 2016 alone, it paid out $3.6 billion for dental care.