How a Membership Plan Gave Their Patients Easier Access to Oral Care

By Megan Lohman October 3, 2023 5 min read

Rebecca Young has been working in dentistry for almost 30 years. The majority of that time has been spent working for Dr. Jarrel at Family and Cosmetic Dentistry of Kokomo in Indiana. Rebecca started out treating patients and through the years has worked her way into the office manager position. As a child, her very personable dentist allowed her to sit and watch while he gave her brother a filling. As he explained his way through the process, her passion for dentistry began.

PF Plan Launch Date: May 2020
Current Members: 109
Annual Recurring Revenue: $52,732

Kokomo Indiana is known for it’s vehicle manufacturing plants. In fact two of the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world have plants there. It is a very insurance driven area. “When someone would call the office and say they needed an appointment we would always start by asking them for their insurance information. But ultimately what we realized was that people thought they had to have insurance to be our patient! That is absolutely not the case and in fact the opposite of what we want.”

Rebecca and Dr. Jarrell knew they had to do something to change that perception. They also needed an alternative for the limited insurance plans some of their patients were paying for. And of course, they wanted to offer better care with simple pricing to those who didn’t have insurance at all.

They started an in-house membership plan.

“We called our plan No Insurance? No Problem! and it worked. We changed how we were speaking to the patients too. We started saying things like, ‘if you have insurance we are happy to file the paperwork for you. If you don’t have insurance, no problem! We have a membership plan.’ We had a fear that patients were being turned away because they had no insurance. We knew we needed to do something about that.”

“Our biggest fear, and I think it’s a lot of practices fear, is that a patient will come in a get signed up for the plan to save the money on that first initial visit and then not come back. And that’s how we decided on the $150 for a new patient and $75 for existing. We knew that fee would protect us and cover the amount of time we would be spending with the patient. On average, we see over 100 new patients a month. We also knew that we needed to create an experience so the patients wanted to come back. Having an alternative to insurance that is so simple to understand, and affordable, is a part of that experience.

Their in-house membership plan was solving their problems, helping to provide the right experience and it was growing! It was exciting but it was also starting to become to hard to handle manually.

“It was hard for us to keep track of the years and which services they were using when. We were constantly having to go in a search for answers or update information and it was pretty time consuming. And doctor wanted something that was easier overall to handle. We also couldn’t offer monthly payment options. At that time it was just a yearly plan. To have the weight of billing 75 patients correctly each month and knowing you have to do it over and over again was pretty heavy. There was no way we were doing that without software. I love that Plan Forward does that for us!”

Their in-house plan was profitable and certainly having a positive impact on the practice overall.

Rebecca and Dr. Jarrell knew there was room for improvement. First and foremost, they had to simplify administration process.

“The treatment planning was really crucial to getting patients on board. When we would sit down to talk about it and show them this is what you are saving, they loved it but without the software to keep everything organized, that process was really time consuming. Dr Jarrell found Plan Forward and asked me to do some research. And after reading all the great reviews and talking to some people in the company, we knew it was a good fit.”

One of the reasons that Dr. Jarrell and Rebecca were so committed to getting this right is because they knew the benefits of membership patients. Membership patients keep their preventative care appointments. They don’t cancel because they are worried about cost. Rebecca likes that membership plans powered by Plan Forward are self-driven. “When we go over it with our patients, it’s pretty cut and dry. There aren’t gray areas that you have to tell your patients about. There are no hidden fees and that’s a big selling point too.

Rebecca had some really interesting insight on some shifts they are seeing.

Membership plans let patients take charge of their oral care, and sign up for their dentist’s protocol without worrying about what their insurance will cost. These patients accept more care and more treatment because they are in charge.

“We are seeing a shift with how people are viewing oral health. I have said to many patients, you know you’re ok spending $1000 or $1200 for a phone that will only last you a few years but not a crown or filling that will last you a lifetime. It makes no sense. I tell them that insurance companies are going to pay for the lowest thing possible because they want to save the money. And to know that your insurance almost works like a savings account. I know I would rather be healthy and not schedule treatment based on what the insurance is willing to pay for. Everyone knows oral health is super important to overall health and most people want to take care of their teeth. Our membership plan just helps them do it easier.

“Membership plans build trust between the dentist and their patients. Our patients look at us and think, ‘wow they really do care about and are concerned about my oral health if they’re offering something like this. And I always stress to them that they are saving the most out of every patient in our office other than our military patients.'”

Dr. Jarrell and Rebecca are convinced that a membership plan drives better oral care for their patients, and a more profitable practice. So they are focused on driving adoption of their membership plan. Their office makes it a priority to screen patients when they schedule an appointment. Those without insurance are flagged and offered a membership plan as soon as they walk through the door.

“Each morning during our team huddle we talk about which patients are coming in without insurance and a membership plan brochure goes right into their folder, which is in their hands from the moment the come in until they leave.”

Sounds like a great way to start a conversation!

And it works! Rebecca says that often when patients check out, they’ve already seen the flyer or brochure in their folder. The front office team will then say something like, “Ok looks like doctor is recommending three fillings, we can save you 20% on that today.” The patient almost always says, “oh really!? How?”

Insert membership plan.

“When we go over the information and treatment plans with options we are seeing 60-70% of patients signing up right then. Probably close to 15% of our patient base is uninsured and many who have insurance are way underinsured. We talk to all of them about the plan. If they can save more money on our membership plan than they can with their self-paid insurance (and that’s almost always the case) we bring it up to them.”

Good call Rebecca! It’s never too late to think about open enrollment. That’s a great moment to move patients from a limited insurance plan to an awesome membership plan!

I asked Rebecca to tell me what she would say to a friend or colleague and she said, “You can’t go wrong with choosing Plan Forward. For one, it takes the stress from managing all of those individual payments. That was our number one big thing. And also, there has never been a time that I needed help and not received exactly what I needed from Plan Forward. At the beginning we had our client success manager on speed dial and their patience was amazing! Plan Forward stuck out so much because we realized we could take something that was already working well and make it so much better.”

That’s always the goal at Plan Forward – We are passionate about helping providers with practice care so they can focus on patient care.

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