Caring, Visionary Dentists Form HDS
Dentists have played a key role at Hawaii Dental Service since its inception. HDS was founded by 15 pioneering dentists who had a strong commitment to provide quality oral health care to our community, and they introduced the first pre-paid dental plan in Hawaii. It was a new concept back in 1962 and was designed initially to provide dental benefits for the children of Hawaii's stevedore union employees.
Hawaii Dental Service was incorporated on February 15, 1962 and the 15 dentists served as its first board of directors. The officers were: Drs. John Y. Kim, President; Ray K. Tachibana, Vice President, John H. Dawe, Secretary; and Kwock B. Chun, Treasurer. The Directors included Drs. Fumio Tsuji, Thomas T. Kagawa, Edwin N. Fujimoto, Allen M. Ito, Harry I. Kurisaki, Jr., Fred S. Kagihara, Bunkichi Uesato, Warren T. Wakai, Robert M. Gibson, Katsumi Kometani and Masaru Kurashima.
Of the 500 licensed dentists in the Islands at the time, a total of 221 became charter members. With just a single full-time employee, Doreen Kakinami, and an office of just 300 square feet in the Alexander Young Building in downtown Honolulu, Hawaii State Dental Service Corporation, as it was known at the time, opened for business on June 28, 1962.
Coverage was extended to 2,000 children of Hawaii stevedores union employees but the extensive utilization of benefits nearly forced the company to close its doors. Fortunately, support and cooperation from the union's Trust Fund and members enabled Hawaii Dental Service to continue its operations.
In addition to providing quality dental care, the 221 dentists realized they also needed to help raise awareness about the importance of dental care. HDS and its dental providers worked hard to change attitudes toward dental care by increasing benefits and educating patients about the value of dental care and hygiene.
Growth and Expansion to Serve More Members
Over the years, HDS continued to grow and serve more people. In 1985, large subscriber groups as well as member dentists were given a vote in electing directors and other matters governing HDS. In addition, the board's composition changed to include non-dentists to reflect the organization's evolving customer base.
In 1966, HDS became a member of Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA), the nation’s largest and most experienced dental benefits company. The DDPA dentist network is the largest in the nation and offers HDS members access to more than 124,000 participating dentists across the country.
DDPA is a network of 39 independent dental service organizations that conducts business in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. DDPA’s mission is to help improve the overall oral health of the nation by making dental care more available and affordable to the public through the expansion of dental benefits programs. This mission is accomplished through the members’ partnerships with their dentists and customers, resulting in real solutions to oral health care, with a focus on prevention.
Hawaii's Leading Dental Benefits Provider
Today, HDS serves the community as a nonprofit dental service corporation, providing dental benefit plans to more than a half million members from subscriber groups representing Hawaii's diverse industries, companies, unions, associations and nonprofit organizations. More than 95% of all licensed, practicing dentists in Hawaii participate with HDS, creating the largest network of participating dentists in the state. Through the years, HDS has also grown to include about 70 percent of the licensed dentists in Guam and Saipan.