Dentistry for the un-insured: Marco doc says no insurance work keeps costs low
Dr. Robert Branstrator is a dentist on a mission. The Marco Island-based practitioner has chosen as his niche providing dental services to uninsured adults, those who, whether or not they have medical insurance in place, have no insurance to cover dental work.
This is a significant number of people, said Branstrator, particularly in a community such as Marco Island with a large population of retirees.
“I have read that 82 to 83 percent of retired people no longer have dental insurance,” although they may have when they were in the workforce, he said. “I’m totally focused on uninsured adults. My basic thing is, if I can eliminate the added overhead of dealing with insurance companies, then I can lower my fees.”
He would have to hire additional staff, and spend hours dealing with the paperwork, if he dealt with insurance, so he doesn’t, said Branstrator.
Many times, even if a patient were willing to file the insurance themselves, the insurance would come back and dispute fees or delay payment, so the cleanest solution is to avoid them altogether.
“We have zero communication with insurance companies. Their primary concern is not patient welfare. In our office, there’s no third party in the treatment room, no government or insurance company.”
For him, patient welfare is paramount, said Branstrator, and providing the services he does allows him to help people on a daily basis.
“We’re in the people business, not the tooth business. Teeth is just what allows me to help people,” he said. ‘It’s all about taking care of the patient.”
The services his office does provide consist primarily of crowns, bridges, composite fillings, and dental cleanings. He offers dental crowns for $699, and stresses that is a complete, all-inclusive price.
The practice opened on Nov. 7, 2016, after Branstrator had spent a year on Marco Island “subbing” or filling in for other dentists, decided he was tired of fishing, and wanted to open his own office specializing in uninsured adult patients. His office is on North Bald Eagle Drive, above the location of Arturo’s restaurant (now closed).
Right next door, the same last name appears again, as Robert Branstrator’s daughter Anne, a nurse practitioner, has her office where she offers Botox, liquid facelifts, and lip rejuvenation, although there is no connection between the two practices.
Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Branstrator earned his undergraduate degree and his DDS from Indiana University, along with a master of arts in physical anthropology and anatomy from the University of Florida in Gainesville. He spent years practicing in Palm Beach County, Florida, where he also served as “forensic dentist,” or assistant medical examiner, leading to some stories of drug dealers’ bodies left in trunks that he would probably be happy to share with you.
“Just like Loretta Lynn said she was country before country was cool, I can say I was in CSI before CSI was cool,” said Branstrator. Branscott also practiced for years in Prescott, Arizona, with time out to pursue his artistic pursuits.
He is an accomplished sculptor, working in bronze using the lost wax method, as well as iron and steel, along with watercolors and oils, and occasional forays into photography. Branstrator also supports, having sponsored an exhibit of members, works at the Marco Island Center for the Arts, where he has also shown his own pieces.
Bill Roche of Marco Island was in the chair at Dr. Branstrator’s office on Wednesday, and afterward, had nothing but praise for his work.
“It’s all positive. Bill was very happy with his work,” said Roche’s wife Doris, reached by telephone after the procedure.
Despite charging low fees, Branstrator’s office is equipped with modern equipment, including a $30,000 panoramic digital X-ray machine, that shows the entire jaw structure in one picture.
“It’s more comprehensive, and shows much more than just the dentition” of a traditional X-ray, said Branstrator. The office offers free consultations, for “a second, or third, or fourth opinion,” which he encourages to get, even if his was the first opinion.
Branstrator’s business card sums up what might be called his unique value proposition: “Affordable dentistry for the UN-insured.”
The office is at 844 Bald Eagle Drive, Suite 848. The phone number is 239-394-3200.