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First Dental Health to Pay School PTAs $20 for Each Student Referral

First Dental Health announced plans this month to partner with California PTAs in effort to boost enrollment in its New Dental Choice plans, which represent about 10 percent of the firm’s $3 million-a-year revenues.

The marketing effort hopes to take advantage of a new law requiring children entering their first year of public school to receive dental checkups.

Executive Vice President Brian Watts said his business will give each local school PTA in the state $20 for every referral to the plan. The marketing ploy could double, or possibly triple New Dental Choice’s business within a year, said Watts.

He also said First Dental is offering an additional $10 to local school PTAs for every year a referral renews their annual plan membership.

“Obviously, from the health standpoint the main point of our partnership is to help kids while helping schools raise money in the process,” Watts said.

Watts said he expects his business to reach an important market that he could expand to include parents, grandparents and extended family members.

“We expect to reach ‘hundreds of thousands’ of those who we couldn’t reach before,” Watts said.

Cost of a New Dental Choice individual plan is $96 a year, or $120 for families, and can be paid in monthly installments.

Unlike traditional insurance plans, there are no deductible or premiums fees.

Instead, New Dental Choice members pay providers pre-negotiated, discounted fees ranging from 25 percent to 60 percent of average fees charged for dental services.

To educate would-be new members, First Dental is spending $400,000 on marketing materials to include fliers and other materials for PTAs to distribute, as well as television and radio ads timed to run at the start of the school year.

The partnership with PTAs in the state, announced May 3, runs three years.

Based in Sorrento Valley with 28 employees, First Dental currently has 10,000 members throughout California.

It is the only licensed discount dental health plan in California.

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Paradise Once More?:

It appears the tumultuous takeover of Paradise Valley Hospital by Prime Healthcare Services Inc. is netting positive early returns.

Since taking control of the National City hospital two months ago, Victorville-based Prime reports that Paradise’s monthly losses have been reduced 50 percent. One reason: hospital stays have been cut from an average of 5.3 days to 3.2.

Previously run by not-for-profit Adventist Health, the 301-bed Paradise lost $5 million in 2005 , the same amount Prime says it has invested in improving the hospital’s infrastructure since acquiring it earlier this year for $30 million.

Among the $5 million improvements: installs of new information technology, MRI and digital filmless radiology systems.

For-profit Prime owns and operates eight acute care facilities in Southern California. The firm is in the process of purchasing a ninth.

Many residents opposed Prime’s purchase, largely because a profit-making organization was buying a nonprofit organization that served the poor and elderly in the South Bay.


Send health care news to Jessica Long at

jlong@sdbj.com

. She may also be reached at (858) 277-6359, ext. 3114.

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