Boston Startup Is Bringing Transparency to Dental Care
Published in Forbes by Daniel D’Ambrosio
November 26, 2019
When Ram Sudireddy took his son to have a wisdom tooth extracted and the dentist demanded $3,000 up front, he was shocked. “I was paying $2,000 per year in dental premiums,” Sudireddy said. “Over 10 years I paid $20,000. When I really needed it they only gave me $1,000.”
“We charge the company per employee per month; it’s completely a software as a service (SAAS) model,” Sudireddy said. “If you’re an individual we would not charge you. The app is free to download. When you go to the dentist there’s a small charge that goes to Bento. It works like Uber.” Sudireddy said Bento has negotiated prices with 70 percent of the dentists in the country. “We are the ones setting the prices, and most dentists agree to our prices,” he said. In Boston, for example, Sudireddy said where a cleaning is typically $150, the Bento rate is $90 for the dentist, plus 7% for Bento, which puts the total at about $96. For a root canal, typically a $1,600 charge, the Bento rate is $1,000, plus 7%, for a total of $1,070. “You save money, it’s a good app experience,” Sudireddy said.
Dentists are fond of Bento, Sudireddy said, because it’s decreasing operating expenses in dental offices by offering instant pre-approvals for procedures, and same day appointments. “With insurance companies you have to wait three or four weeks to get pre-treatment authorizations,” Sudireddy said. “Sixty percent of the patients don’t come back.” You can also cancel your appointment through the Bento app if you need to.
“We’re in the 21st century, we deserve better for our own health care,” Sudireddy said. “So far every company that signed up with us has been able to save 30 percent minimum on dental dollars. They can also provide some for of benefit to hourly employees.”
Sudireddy says about 100 million Americans don’t have any dental insurance. The National Association of Dental Plans puts that number at about 74 million Americans. Either way that’s a lot of people going without dental care.
“Every human being wants to have a nice smile, but dental health is also tied to overall health,” Sudireddy said. “We all deserve affordable care.”