Delta Dental member companies serve over one-quarter of the estimated 165 million Americans with dental insurance.
Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA) was created in 1966 to bring together these local state service organizations and coordinate dental benefit programs for customers with employees in multiple states. A year later, the first multi-state program was sold by WDS to the International Association of Machinists. WDS ceded the administration for enrollees in other states to other Delta Dental member companies and contracted with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association for administration in those states without a Delta Dental affiliate organization.
Coverage was provided this way until the late 1980s when the Delta Dental of California (DDCA) won the bid for the Office of the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Uniformed Services (OCHAMPUS) program. Delta Dental member companies agreed to share its provider data so the administration of this very large account could be centralized, with Delta Dental of California sharing the administrative income and risk. The OCHAMPUS program led to the creation of the National Provider File (NPF), which was made available for commercial accounts in 1990 via Delta USA – providing Delta Dental coverage to organizations with employees and subscribers located in multiple states.
The headquarters of a company dictates which Delta Dental member company will provide insurance for that company. While there are only 39 member companies, every state is covered by a member company. For instance, one of the larger member companies, Delta Dental Insurance Company (DDIC), provides coverage for Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, Texas, and Utah. DDIC is also affiliated with Delta Dental of California, giving them a total coverage area of 16 states and the District of Columbia. The size of a member company varies a great deal, with the largest in the thousands of employees, down to the smallest with tens of employees.
While the member companies are individual and very independent companies, there is an association they all belong to called Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA). This association is incorporated as a trade association. DDPA does not function as a corporate headquarters. It is a coordinating body that provides a number of services that multiple plans need as well as directing inquiries to the appropriate Delta Dental member company. DDPA is a very small company of about 30 people out of Oak Brook, IL. It is not to be confused with Delta Dental of Illinois, which has 120+ people and is based in Lisle, IL. DDPA manages the Delta Dental brand, helps organize meetings, ties all the member companies together and allows them to price claims in other states. The National Provider File (NPF) allows these localized companies to write national business. This allows a subscriber to go to any provider signed up with the Delta Dental system throughout the country.