The Complete Guide to How a Dental Membership Plan Works and Who Benefits from it

What is a Dental Membership Plan and How Does It Work?

As a dentist, you are always looking for ways to increase your patient base and grow your business. Offering a dental membership plan is a great way to do this, as it provides an affordable and convenient way for patients to receive the dental care they need. But how does a dental membership plan work? And who benefits from it? 

Both the patient and the practice will benefit from a membership plan. The practice builds retention and recurring revenue and the patients have a clear cost of care and are more likely to keep their appointments.  

A dental membership plan is a yearly or monthly subscription that provides patients with access to dental care at a discounted rate. A typical general practice has few plan options (Adult, Child, Perio) that includes two dental exams, two cleanings(or 3-4 perio maintenances), and X-rays, as well as a discount on other dental services. Patients can also often add additional family members to their plan for a discounted rate

How Does A Dental Membership Plan Work With Your Practice?

Easy, you bundle services and set the price.Unlike a discount plan where you’re essentially reducing your fees and billing patients a la carte for nothing in return, a membership plan encourages patients to opt-in to two preventive care appointments per year, where they actually show up and accept x-rays readily because they are included.

Membership plans bundle preventive care (2 exams, 2 cleanings, x rays, fluoride and an emergency visit are typical) for one price. Guess what? Hygiene stops being a loss leader, and treatment acceptance is 50-75% higher because you’re able to present more treatment since you’re taking more x-rays at more appointments. And the practice retains the patient. We have stats around these, as well as detailed ROI for the practice – membership plans work.


patient benefits
managing dental membership plans

How to Design A Successful Dental Membership Plan  for Your Practice?

Creating a dental membership plan for your practice is not complicated; however, It requires the right amount of research and strategic planning to be successful. These are the steps you need to take:

  1. Decide on the plan structure and number of plans that make sense for your patient demographic
  2. Determine what services will be included in your plan and the price
  3. Decide who should be eligible for your membership
  4. Develop a strategy to inform current and new patients 
  5. Get your team on board and on the same page

The biggest advantage of having a dental membership plan is that it changes patient behavior. An uninsured patient who once visited every 18 months now visits twice a year. An uninsured patient who resisted x-rays and fluoride now accepts them on time. Perio patients who were never compliant because it was too expensive, are now back on the healthy track. Members are loyal, visit regularly and they trust their provider’s guidance. Why does patient behavior matter to the business?  It means hygiene stops being a loss leader and is now profitable, treatment acceptance is 50-75% higher (because patients accept x-rays and fluoride since they’re included) and the practice retains their patients. There are many case studies from the different membership plan companies, as well as detailed ROI calculations, that reinforce the notion that membership plans work for the patient and for the practice.

Sounds like a slam-dunk for your business? A recurring, high margin revenue stream from membership fees, driven by high hygiene recall… and to boot, double the treatment accepted. Dental membership plans are not new. The software platforms that manage these plans are.

The Process of Growing a Dental Membership Plan

Just because you have a membership plan in place doesn’t automatically translate to business impact.  You have to grow it. The most important element in growing a dental membership plan is properly training your team.  Give them guidance on how to talk about the plan with patients and set realistic expectations about who will likely join the plan. Showcase your plan on your website and have plenty of marketing materials around the practice. Remind your team that it’s not an afterthought, but an alternative to insurance and will help patients plan for their oral health in a predictable cost-friendly way. 

Plan Forward actually makes this process super easy on your team by providing the training and marketing materials for you. 

Advertise the heck out of your membership program! Do this internally and externally. What does that mean? Internally means talking with anyone who comes into the office or calls to inquire about an appointment.  It doesn’t just have to be a patient! That UPS driver knows someone that needs your plans. Make sure your team is talking about it, or even better, give them pins that mention it. Post it on your website (front and center – don’t hide it), share it on your social media pages and in any and all email signatures. Do you do any local advertising? Make sure you mention it on direct mail pieces, or in the ads you get with any type of  sponsorship.

 Display membership information in high traffic areas around your office, operatory rooms, checkout counters and even restrooms. Where do you have your patient’s captive attention? Maybe as they are staring straight ahead for their x-rays! Perhaps you have TVs displaying different information or entertainment, make a little commercial or info screen.
If you have an enrollment link, like Plan Forward provides, utilize this to your full advantage. Include it in appointment reminders with a catchy caption like “No insurance, no problem!” Be sure to hyperlink your enrollment page to the appointment reminder to give your patients more detail. This is the perfect time to remind them that you have an in-house membership plan created specifically for them. The membership plans are a HUGE health benefit for them, make sure they know it!

And last but not least, make sure your team has a simple way to manage, track, and evaluate how the plan is working.  Be sure to know how you can quickly identify a member from a non-member in your practice management system. Know how much revenue you’re collecting on your plan, and how much you’re “writing-off.”  Many practices also want to know how many members are accepting treatment. Then there is the inevitable renewal process.  Make sure your patients are aware they are renewing so they can be sure to utilize all their services within the year and aren’t caught off guard next time they walk in.  After a couple years, run the numbers and make sure it’s still working.


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Our membership plan will drive business results for your practice.

  • 2x revenue when an uninsured patient becomes a member.
  • Attract new uninsured patients by offering them a way to access care.
  • Retain patients and build a loyal base of patients who visit regularly.
  • Set your own fees and drive recurring revenue from day one. 
  • Options to build your custom membership plans, suited to your base of patients. 
  • Choose whether to offer monthly/annual payment schedules.
  • Provide a great patient experience.