June 5, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY — Healthplex is the largest independent dental plan administrator in New York, with 3.4 million covered lives in the tri-state area.
Since its beginnings in 1977, it has provided dental coverage and plan administration for union members. We spoke with President and CEO Sharon Zelkind to learn more about its history, what it can offer workers, and current initiatives.
Zelkind has been with Healthplex for 24 years. She herself has an extensive background in the dental field, having begun her career as a registered dental hygienist. She then went into sales of dental supplies and equipment, becoming the National Director of Dental Sales for a major equipment supplier. She says she first learned of Healthplex through many of the dental offices worked with. , Zelkind started with Healthplex as a Provider Relations Representative. In that position, she would visit dental offices to check for cleanliness and proper sterilization equipment and procedures to ensure that offices would be appropriate for participation in the Healthplex network. She then saw the opportunity to offer dental administrative services to government-funded programs such as Medicaid, Medicare, and Child Health Plus, and developed the Government Services Division within Healthplex.
Healthplex has a long history of working with municipal and labor unions. Early accounts included the Uniformed Firefighters Association (UFA), the Transit Police, Superior Officers, Detectives, and Correction Officers unions. Zelkind says that Healthplex is attractive to unions
for a number of reasons: “We provide dental administrative services at a reasonable cost. We balance comprehensive dental benefits with affordable member cost sharing. We are local and we are a union shop. In New York, we have over 600 employees, and we handle all customer service in-house (never overseas).”
It is Healthplex’s focus on quality that makes it stand out as well, adds Zelkind. “We are recognized by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) in Credentialing – the process of making sure providers meet educational and training standards – as well as verifying
professional history for sanctions and adverse action. Healthplex is also recognized by NCQA for Utilization Management. This involves quality and appropriateness of care reviews to ensure the highest level of care for members.
Current initiatives include integrating medical and dental care, and expanding education on preventive treatment. Many dental and medical conditions are related. For example there is a correlation between periodontal disease (gum disease) and heart disease and also low birth
weight and periodontal disease. For preventive care, Healthplex has an initiative in place to educate and screen young children by going to schools, nurseries and day care centers as well as community events. Healthplex offers cost-free screenings, and educates care givers regarding additional dental care needed, and provides local referrals for treatment.
Healthplex is proud to support local institutions such as hospitals and universities with financial contributions with the aim of keeping these services in New York.