Plan Forward Co-Founder & CEO Megan Lohman joined Novonee Founder, Dayna Johnson for a deep dive on annual planning. Listen in to Novonne on the Go or read a snippet from the transcription below.
As you know, we are talking about annual planning and for so this whole third quarter, we are diving into annual planning. And if you’ve been listening to our last couple of podcasts, you know that we’re in the middle of summer, right? We’re in the middle of summer, and you might not be thinking about next year. But this time of year, is extremely important for you to start thinking about goal setting and the possibility of what your practice is going to look like next year.
Megan Lohman 5:36
So, a lot of practices, or a lot of front office team members, specifically helping patients who are so frustrated with maybe the lack of value that they’re getting from their dental insurance plan. So even though employers may offer dental, they may still be paying a decent amount of money every month in in the premium for that plan option. And then when they go to use the benefits, you know, things are down coded or excluded, or they’re still paying a lot out of pocket. Almost everyone we talked to throughout the day, you know, is helping patients through this conversation of okay, well, you do have dental benefits, but blah, blah, blah, and they go through on why they have a balance. And so, these are underinsured patients. So, this is the opportunity that your front office team members have. And your practice has to communicate with patients, Hey, make sure you’re running numbers, because sometimes it’s cheaper for you just to pay our office directly, than pay for this dental insurance plan and pay for the out of pocket portion.
Dayna Johnson 6:50
I remember when I was in a practice, and our patients would come and ask us, you know, I need to renew my dental benefits. And they were self-employed, or they it was a Medicare supplement or something like that. And they would come to us and say, you know, should I opt in for this for my dental? And my first question to them always was, what are the what’s the premium? What’s the monthly premium? Because they would come to me and say, Well, I’d get $1,000 benefit for this dental plan? Should I buy it? And my first question was always, what’s the premium? Because if the premium is like 50 bucks a month, you know, their pain? What is that, you know, $50 a month 12, they’re paying $600 a year just in premiums, and then and then deduct that from the from the maximum, they’re only really getting $400 a month and benefits, or a year and a year in benefits? And so then I would tell them, No, it’s not, it’s not worth you getting that. And you know, that was way back in the day before membership plans were even available, or even even talked about. So I think that’s a really good conversation for our dental teams to be having with our with our patients.
Megan Lohman 8:18
And regardless of what you have in your practice today, in terms of options for these patients, it’s still helpful to send out a communication to say, hey, we know open enrollment is around the corner, make sure you’re you know, running numbers to make sure you’re getting the most value out of the insurance plan. Because obviously some patients are you know, the employer is paying 100% of that premium or close to it, then absolutely, that’s a great value. But others may not. And so if you can help give them tips, like, you know, add up how much you are paying a premium, add up how much you’ve paid off pocket and our practice and just compare, that’s just guidance and keeping it top of mind for your patients.
Dayna Johnson 9:03
I think that’s such a great point and what a value added service that our teams can do to provide our patients with such a great topic, you know, to even think about because I bet a lot of patients don’t even think about that they have other they have other options available.
Megan Lohman 9:24
Yeah. And paying directly just hanging out of pocket full fees. Sometimes it’s cheaper, which seems crazy for him.
Dayna Johnson 9:33
Well, I agree. And, and you know, we have to think about how many of our patients are self-employed now, you know, or they’re a gig employer. They’re a 1099 employee now or, and, you know, so they’re now self-employed. I’m self-employed and I have to really think about my insurance benefits and sometimes it has been cheaper for me to pay out of pocket. So, I really think that’s such a great topic of conversation for our patients. Okay, I’m so glad that you brought up that October open enrollment, because I had no idea that even could play a big role in the dental practice. So thank you for that. The next thing I want to dive into is, let’s say that the doctor is ready to really explore this membership thing. I know that they’ve been around for a while. And, you know, now I think that my practice might be ready to onboard a membership plan. And I’m going to add this topic into my annual planning session for this year, what are your top three things that doctors should be looking at, or evaluating when they are looking at adding a membership plan? Or I like sometimes I like to call them a loyalty plan?
Megan Lohman 11:25
I think that the biggest reason people implement a membership plan is to your point loyalty. In it, it’s the easiest way to help patients who are either confused or asking for benefit recommendations, it’s the easiest answer that, you know, is a great value. So as a front office person, it’s really hard to answer the question when a patient calls and says, Hey, would you recommend me re upping my dental insurance or my employer switching my dental insurance? Which plan do you recommend, it’s almost impossible to know whether or not you’re advising them to buy something that’s a good value until they actually use it in your practice. So I think when you think about how you want to grow, the profitability model and implementing a membership plan is definitely one to serve your patients and help keep them loyal to your practice. And the second piece is, it’s a way to improve your profitability through these uninsured patients. In a third piece, if this is really a doctor focused initiative, the other piece is talk to your your front office team. And ask them, What are you typically recommending, when patients ask you, Amanda? Reference, you know, what’s your answer? And see what they say?