We are very disappointed with the biased approach that PBS and the Center for Public Integrity employed in their scurrilous attack on our company and on the dental services industry in general.
We participated in this story because we were led to believe it would be a serious and balanced story that could contribute to an important discussion of the challenges facing people who desperately need dental care.
As it turns out, this was not the objective.
Instead of taking advantage of an opportunity to discuss the national problem of obtaining quality dental care, PBS and the Center for Public Integrity ignored what we shared during the past few months and instead decided to cast private enterprise as the villain in their crusade.
The story also overlooked what we believe is a fundamental issue – the growing disparity for a large, forgotten middle portion of the population, hard-working Americans who need dental care that is more affordable and more accessible. Aspen Dental offers them a real solution.
We have no interest in going point by point through this example of the worst kind of journalism. However, we challenge the central and most offensive assertion made in this story that dentists supported by Aspen Dental make decisions to bolster their offices’ bottom lines.
Nothing is further from the truth. Let us be clear: the dentists who own and operate Aspen Dental practices make their diagnoses and treatment recommendations to patients based on what is best for the patient’s medical needs. Dental care can be expensive – especially when it is pushed off for years or decades – and Aspen Dental practices provide affordable, easily accessible options for patients that would otherwise not be available to them.
Our employees receive extensive training to help patients make some of the most serious financial decisions they will ever face. We are proud of the business we run, the jobs we have created, and the care that the dental offices we support provide to millions of people who would otherwise receive no dental care in this country.
The baseless claims in this story fly in the face of a recent opinion letter on the dental service organization (DSO) business model from the Federal Trade Commission, which just a few weeks ago noted that not only was the FTC unaware of any safety or quality issues arising from the use of DSOs, but that “DSOs appear to increase efficiency and support entry by new dental practices, which may lead to lower prices, expanded access to dental services, and greater choice for dental consumers.”
To validate their thesis, PBS and Frontline opted to dig back into Aspen’s history to find anything they could use to prove their point. But the numbers just do not back up their claim.
Last year, more than 760,000 patients visited Aspen Dental practices across the country, and the vast, vast majority of those patients are highly satisfied. While even one complaint is too many, the rate of complaints that Aspen Dental practices receive is less than one-tenth of one percent of all patients.
Even when presented with contradictory facts and figures about their assertions, the journalists involved in this project opted to quote only disgruntled former employees and other sources unwilling to give their names. Their accounts misrepresent our company and mischaracterize the 4,000 Aspen team members across the country who make up our organization.
We are stunned that Frontline seems to have decided to move from its long history of balanced reporting in favor of this brand of irresponsible sensationalism. Most importantly, though, we view this as a missed opportunity to advance the discussion of dental care in America and begin to identify solutions.