The current dental benefits market thrives on inefficiency and building a black box around patient care. Insurance companies raise premiums on employers each year, and dentists and their staff are forced to chase claims.
BOSTON, Oct. 16, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Bento, the dental benefits management platform, today announced its public launch after raising $3M in seed funding. With Bento, employers of any size can self-insure and customize their dental care and provide a better experience for employees.
Founders Ram Sudireddy and Saty Mahajan, who prior to founding Bento ran several companies, including CHiL Semiconductor (acquired by International Rectifier), Sanovi (acquired by IBM), and Mustbin (acquired by LifeSite), recognized serious issues with the dental benefits market. “Employers and dentists deserve better,” says Sudireddy, Bento’s CEO and co-founder. “We see a real opportunity to shine a light on the dental insurance industry and fix the inefficiencies by building a more transparent platform that gives employers, patients, and dentists a better experience.”
“We’re looking at this industry from a modern perspective and we have created innovations in everything from employer enrollment through dentist payment,” says Mahajan, Bento’s CTO and co-founder. “Our world-class mobile apps and HIPAA-compliant cloud platform are bringing simple and transparent dental benefits experiences to our users. Ultimately, we’re driven to build easy-to-use technology that improves people’s lives.”
Bento recently exited its public beta in September with thousands of dentists and multiple New England-based customers. “Our goal is to complete our northeast expansion by the end of 2018 and begin national network and customer development in the first quarter of 2019,” Sudireddy explains.
Dentists are calling for a solution as well. “Insurance companies weren’t built to provide patients and dentists with a transparent experience, and they certainly aren’t capable of helping give more patients access to care.” says Dr. Jill Tanzi, DDS. “If anything, they try to get in the way of care.”
“Insurance premiums are expensive and many people are left out of the system and can’t get the care they need,” says Sudireddy. “We are helping everyone get care by creating a platform that can be customized to cover anyone.”
“Our patent-pending technology is incredibly powerful and flexible,” says Mahajan. “By leveraging industry standard technologies like AWS and Stripe in combination with our proprietary algorithms, we’re able to directly connect employers, patients, and dentists on a single, secure Bento platform.”
“The market is headed this way,” says Sudireddy. “Corporations are bypassing insurance companies and going directly to providers for services by self-insuring. We’re seeing this with big companies like Amazon, Walmart, and GM on the healthcare side. Bento is doing the exact same thing with dental.”
The Market is Moving to Self-Insurance
As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, the insurance market is changing with more and more companies moving toward a direct pay model. Big organizations like Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway, Partners Health Care, and GM, recognize the inefficiencies in the health insurance market and are dealing with providers directly.
Employer Dental Benefits Aren’t Going Toward Care
When employers develop dental plans for their employees, they expect the dollars associated with those plans to go to dental care. This is not the case. According to studies done by the California Dental Association, nearly 40% of dental plan dollars are lost because of inefficiency. Additionally, one-third of adults with private dental plans do not go to the dentist even once per year, according to the American Dental Association. The result is employer dollars being paid into insurance companies, but not being paid back out for patient care. States across the country, including Massachusetts, have filed legislation to establish Minimum Loss Ratios (MLRs) for insurance companies to protect consumers, but nearly all of these bills do not include dental care.
Dental Insurance is a Scam
Dental insurance isn’t actually insurance. Unlike health, car, home, and life insurance, where people pay into a risk pool to cover those that suffer unfortunate accidents or illnesses, dental doesn’t have a risk pool. Dental insurance is actually benefit dollars that employers allocate for dental care, and if there is an unfortunate emergency, health insurance covers it.
Bento was founded in 2017 by serial entrepreneurs Ram Sudireddy and Saty Mahajan in response to the numerous and widely varied issues in the dental benefits market. Recognizing that dental insurance isn’t really insurance, but rather an employer benefit, they built a platform using leading edge technology that solves issues for employers and dentists alike. Bento uses a direct reimbursement model that manages everything from appointment to payment, and more importantly, cuts out burdensome insurance companies that get in the way of patient care.