Groupon Deals For Dental Treatment

Posted by Dr. Ronald Widen - January 14, 2012 - General - 17 Comments

Have you seen those Groupon deals for dentistry? Unfortunately, they may be illegal and are definitely unethical. They are being look at by the American Dental Association. Since the fees are being split by the dentist and Groupon it may violate dentistry’s no fee splitting rules. Oregon has already banned Groupon deals for dentists and chiropractors, with more states to follow! I would think twice before signing up for a deal!

Dr. Ron Widen
Halsted Dental Aesthetics

See articles below!

Dental Groupons, incentives
Possible state, federal legal issues as well as ethical ones

Oregon Dentist and Chiropractic Boards Ban Groupon


  • Joshua Most says:

    When a patient pays a fee with a credit card such as American Express, are you splitting the fee when they take 3% of the fee?

    • Again, it is the cost of accepting that charge card. Furthermore, the patient is not paying American Express or any other card company and then in turn pay us a portion of the proceeds. Patients are paying us and then there is a fee for that transaction. The patient is already in your office.

  • Joshua Most says:

    What about 1-800-dentist

    • That is a great question.1-800-DENTIST does not charge the patient directly and keep a portion for themselves and dispense a portion to the dentist. It is an advertising/website marketing company. Patients do come from the website/phone calls but the monthly fee is independent of whether anyone comes to the office. Patients pay your full fee. How about the idea that we legally can not forgive the patient’s portion of their insurance, that is overcharging, what about hospitals that right off patient’s charges all the time?

  • Chris Stanosheck says:

    Can you explain how this is any different than a Dentist that signs up to be a preferred Delta Dental provider or any other PPO?? You certainly are splitting fees with the Insurance company. Patients pay premiums each month to the Ins company dont they?

  • Dr Angie says:

    @Chris Stanosheck-The only money a provider receives from an insurance company is the payment for services. You pay a premium to the insurance company for THEIR services-which is coverage for a portion of your health services. Not to mention, with you have a choice to go to whatever provider you please (in- or out-of-network). If a provider is part of the insurance company’s network there is no splitting of fees. The provider just agrees to the insurance company’s fee schedule (which is usually a lot lower than what the provider normally charges) and also agrees to not charge you the difference. There is no extra money received by the doctor.

  • Mark Seattle says:

    I don’t think it’s unethical. It’s a business attempt to get more patients…

  • Troy says:

    Looks more like it’s about offering kickbacks or referrals, which with Groupon you can get a free deal if you refer X number of customers. It’s an unfortunate side effect of the business model. I don’t think business should (or will) be punished for this. Probably more of a perception problem for the governing boards.

  • jp says:

    I don’t think groupon deals for the dental services should be banned at all. I dont know much about the legalities or ethics of the payments so my opinion may be uneducated. However, I do know that this a great deal for people with out dental insurance and a huge help! I mean isn’t that why people become dentists in the first place? Bc they genuinly care about the dental health of others and it’s their passion? What is so unethical about dentists offering dental services at a discounted price thru groupon??? What is the harm? and to who? The bigger picture in my opinion outweighs these small “ethical” issues. The bigger picture meaning some people being able to get the dental services needed who might otherwise been unable to receive them, isn’t that more important? Dental health is very important and it is one of the most neglected health services. Dental health can be directly linked to your overall health and well being. Then again I may be uneducated in the ethics of the payment system.

    • Rhonda says:

      I agree with your post! It offers people out there a discount for services that they would not otherwise be able to afford. With the astronomical costs of healthcare and dental care rising, it is a win win situation. Dentists possibly get new patients and people get dental care at an affordable price. I work in the medical field and I see the pharmaceutical companies and their greed, getting rich off of normal, hardworking middle class people. Patients have to go without needed meds sometimes because the costs are too high and they have to make a decision to either have food on the table or have their meds. Now that is UNETHICAL. If the American Dental Association & American Medical Association want to investigate something, let them investigate that!

  • Dr. Robert B. says:

    Groupon or LivingSocial are most likely quite responsible. The dental practice act is written to guard against unethical referral services wherein an unethical middleman is paid for bringing patients to a dentist and they “split” the fee. This has the potential to be a disservice to an unwary patient. There is work at the level of the California Dental Association to provide clarity to the notion of coupon based referrals that will likely take the form of a dentist paying a flat fee to e.g. Groupon that will then essentially be a form of advertising as opposed to referral based fees. As of this writing however this sort of coupon based referral is not legal. However, the likelihood of a district attorney prosecuting this sort of case is extremely low.

  • GeneWhiz says:

    For us students who cant afford dental insurance, which is the majority of the country and certainly can not afford to pay to the astronomical fees dentists charge a GROUPON certainly seems like a lofty alternative to a cleaning, x rays and exam at a bargain price.

  • Tvkif says:

    The only thing unethical about all of this is what the dentist charges. If one lives near the border with Mexico, go to Mexico for dental work. It is good and a fraction of the cost of American denstis.

    • Lindsey DMD says:

      Mexican dentists are a fraction of the cost because the work is not the same quality. In Mexico, someone graduates from highschool and goes to dental school for two years as a technical degree. In America, dentists must receive a doctorate either in dental surgery (DDS) or medical dentistry (DMD). There is no real difference between the DDS or DMD. A Mexican dentist cannot practice in the US and if they wish to, the law requires that they apply and complete dental school in America. This is for a reason. You get what you pay for.

  • BIZ LAW DDS says:

    I just wanted to add an update on the status of the question of whether it is legal and ethical for dentists to use Groupon. The ADA Council on Ethics, Bylaws and Judicial Affairs recently issued an advisory opinion stating that it is unethical for dentists to sign the standard Groupon advertising contract, which provides for Groupon to keep a portion of the fee paid by the patient and then pay the rest to the dentist. Meanwhile, Groupon and Living Social worked with the Oregon Board to create a new contract that could be used by Oregon dentists to advertise on Groupon and Living Social without violating Oregon law. The Oregon Board recently sent letters to both Groupon and Living Social stating that this new contract did not violate Oregon’s fee-splitting law. For additional information on these new developments, visit

  • Patty says:

    What everyone is ignoring about the GROUPON system is that the advertiser pays absolutely nothing up front to run an ad. So the GROUPON staff is giving their knowledge, technical abilities, graphics and experience without a guarantee – just their proven history of offers that work. Any client that uses GROUPON is getting a superb opportunity without risking anything – they can limit how many offers they want to sell, and how long they want to run it. The kind of coverage that an advertiser receives from the GROUPON is easily valued at thousands of dollars if placed with any other type of venue.

  • Steve says:

    Interesting comments and all good, however the largest factor for a business using the daily deal sites has been largely overlooked.
    Daily deal sites are a fantastic way for a business owner (professional or otherwise) to generate “NEW” business and welcome back inactive past clients.
    The biggest difference is how the deal is structured. We (my company) provides daily deal management service for you guessed it, a portion of the profits on the BACK end. We take no up-front monies, thus allowing the business owner to do what they do best, run their businesses!
    MANY of the deals we see our clients run, are very POORLY structured and business owners give far TOO much away in the deal, true this is about “value added”, a properly structured daily deal is designed to bring in new business. Once the customer has engaged the business, then it’s up to the business to “up-sell, cross-sell”, etc. This is where the true value and sales “ability” comes in to play, and sadly, many owners are simply not prepared for the influx on new business and thus deem the program a failure and then on to the next advertising “gimmick”.
    I assure everyone, that it can be done properly where both sides win, a business owner needs to be clear on the fact that they will see a reduced profit on “new” business to be sure, however the upside is the large increase in volume. That folks is the method.

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