Financial coordinators, office admins, office managers, front desk associates… there is never a shortage of things to do in a dental office. At least that was my experience when I worked in a dental practice! At the end of most days, I still had things on my list that I couldn’t get to. I would regularly come in when the office was closed to focus and get calls made that I couldn’t get to when we were seeing patients. Most days I found myself having long conversations about insurance options and alternatives, rarely getting to my task list. As the financial coordinator I needed to implement a dental membership plan.
Most days, I spent the majority of my time:
- Talking with patients about a treatment plan and explaining their out-of-pocket balance where insurance wouldn’t pay
- Helping patients evaluate insurance plans and answering the dreaded question “which plan should I choose?”
- Entering insurance checks and adding many follow up calls to my to-do list where we had questions on EOBs or had to explain patient balances (please refer back to bullet #1)
We participated with a few insurance networks and about 75% of our patients had insurance. Our patients were making comments like “why am I even paying for this insurance.” More often than not, they were disappointed with their coverage. There were plenty of patients who didn’t have insurance, or were going to be losing their coverage. And knew buying a commercial plan wasn’t worth the money. Sounds even more familiar right?
We know insurance is not going away and we also know it doesn’t work very well for most people. But what is there to be done about it?
Now, consider all that time and energy I devoted to that endless process. Take all those conversations with all of those people and add up all that time! (I didn’t do the math, but I know it’s a lot!) Yes, I was incredibly busy and adding one more thing to my already full plate wasn’t super exciting. But here’s why I did it anyway, and why it made sense to create a membership plan.
- It was the absolute easiest answer for all patients when they asked for a recommendation on which insurance plan to buy. Patients expect you/me to be their dental insurance expert. However, we all know it is nearly impossible to know the details of a plan and how it will pay in your office without 1) providing treatment first 2) spending hours reading about it or 3) having the patient actually be eligible with the plan first so you can get the details of the plan or submit a pre-treatment estimate. In two sentences I could explain our membership plan. The pricing was so transparent and the plan was so simple patients would often ask what’s the catch?! There is none. It made sense and was super affordable. Hassle free for everyone, especially me. It was a massive time saver and I no longer felt like I had to be their insurance expert.
- Our membership plan was truly the best investment for their money. No matter how great a commercial plan seems on the surface, if the patient is paying $25-45 in monthly premiums, they might as well pay out of pocket and save their money. If an insurance plan has a low premium, like $15-20 a month, it likely only covers preventative care with a lot of restrictions. Again, not worth the money. When you take the patients who already know insurance isn’t worth the money and choose to just go without insurance, they aren’t quite as compliant. What I mean by that is they don’t maintain two cleanings within a 12-month period, they push back on x-rays (especially when it’s time for the pano or fmx) and everything is a conversation. Paying for things “a la carte” at the dentist is not a fun experience. A membership plan solves that instantly.
- It streamlined all other discounts we were offering. It’s amazing how it’s not the intention, but you can quickly find yourself offering lots of different discounts for things like paying with cash, prepaying for treatment, being a senior citizen or being uninsured. It seems like a “nice” thing to do for patients but it is a nightmare to track, and where does it end? Our membership plan eliminated all other discounts. Our membership plan was our discount. Here were our options: 1) we take your insurance and file it on your behalf, 2) you join our membership plan and enjoy discounts or, 3) you pay our standard fees. That’s it. Three great options, let them pick. So simple!
After implementing our membership plan, it would’ve been hard imaging not having it. Insurance doesn’t seem to be getting any better. Membership plan participation continues to grow. It’s the best thing we ever did from a financial perspective. It was a complete homerun, an MVP; maintainable for the team, valuable for the patients and profitable for the business. Don’t wait another day to learn how it can help you, patients and your team. Contact us now!