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?



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

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.  

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? 

patient benefits

How Does A Dental Membership Plan Work With Your Practice?

Easy, you bundle services and set the price that is higher than your reimbursements for your insured patients, but still offers value for your cash patients. This is unlike a discount plan where you charge an enrollment fee, and then a la carte services at a discounted price. With a discount plan, patients still pick and choose the services they want, and the practice has no visibility into recurring revenue. Since each year, the patient must re-enroll in the discount plan, the churn can be as high as 90%! This is not the case with membership plan, where at some practices, the churn can as low as 15-20%. Plus since x-rays are bundled in the membership plan, patients accept them, and are 50-75% more likely (compared with uninsured patients) to accept treatment.  

Since membership plans bundle preventive care (2 exams, 2 cleanings, x-rays, fluoride, and an emergency visit are typical) for one price, hygiene stops being a loss leader. We have stats around these metrics, as well as detailed ROI for some of our  practices – the bottom line : membership plans work.


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 the number of plans that will appeal broadly to your patient demographic
  2. Determine what services should be included in your plan 
  3. Estimate the payout per service based on the UCR and the payor reimbursement, and add these to find your plan price
  4. Decide who should be eligible for your membership
  5. Develop a strategy to inform current and new patients 
  6. Get your team on board and ready to talk about the benefits of becoming a members, and the potential savings

One of the reasons that membership plans are transformative for a practice can be found in how they change 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 trust their provider’s guidance. Why does patient behavior matter to the business?  It matters because hygiene stops being a loss leader and is now profitable, treatment acceptance can be 50-75% higher (because patients accept x-rays and fluoride since they’re included), and the practice retains its 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, potentially 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, sales scripts for your Office Managers and the marketing materials for your office! We will set expectations on how quickly your plan should grow and support you on that journey.  

Advertise your membership program in your office, on your website and on your social media. Talk to patients who come into the office or call to inquire about an appointment. Talk to employers in your area or community venues like churches. Make sure your team is talking about the value of these plans, and the savings for your patients to join. 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.

Plan Forward provides you with brochures and marketing collateral to display in your office on an acrylic stand. We will also provide an enrollment link and a landing page which you can customize. Whenever you send an appointment reminder, you can hyperlink your enrollment page. This is the perfect time to remind patients that there is an alternative way to pay for their dental care.

Plan Forward also provides the dashboard so you can manage, track, and evaluate how the plan is working. We can build in alerts depending on what your practice needs, and we can help you determine the Long Term Value of your membership patients (based on production, no show rate and other metrics). We can help you track patient usage of the plan services. 

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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.