One of the most powerful phrases in the English language must be “It’s free!” When our cell phone plan comes with a streaming service, our car lease includes maintenance, or our meat subscription sweetens the deal with complimentary eggs, we get that awesome “it was free” feeling. In reality, we paid for each and every ‘bonus’, but we rationalize a bundle purchase far differently than purchasing items a la carte.
In the case of dental membership plans, this real consumer behavior to more highly value things perceived as being “free” is incredibly powerful. It is what turns plan members into practice loyalists who accept more treatment than patients with insurance or so-called discount plans. Membership plans like those created with Plan Forward put the power in the hands of the practice to bundle included services so that patients want to take advantage. The “it’s included” phenomenon means that members accept more treatment and reap the benefits of consistent dental care.
Three in four Americans have dental insurance, but the complexity of navigating insurance coverage (for both patients and practices) tends to leave people never quite feeling confident in what is included — even though the answer might be a lot. Despite paying a monthly fee, certain services may only be covered under specific circumstances, at certain locations, or at ill-defined intervals. The nature of insurance billing is opaque by design, meaning that patients are often unsure of whether they’ll get a bill after accepting services. Compare this to the transparency of a membership plan, which is created and managed by a practice and includes (for “free”) a specific set of services in exchange for a monthly fee. No surprises.
Historically, dental discount plans have been presented as an alternative to insurance. While offering more transparency because patients are selecting services a la carte, the lack of the “it’s included” feeling means that patients traditionally accept less treatment and visit less frequently. So, while dental discount plans offer advantages over insurance by removing restrictions, maximums, waiting periods, annual limits, and denied claims, the model doesn’t encourage consistent and thorough treatment.
The transparency of dental membership plans is where they really shine — for both patients and providers. First, patients know what package of services they purchased and are motivated to use their benefits. They’ve paid for them! Though the care is more affordable for patients, removing the insurance middleman allows providers to be fairly and predictably compensated. Subscribing to your practice also has the benefit of a direct relationship between patient and practice, and consistency in the care provided. This, in turn, nurtures loyalty and a higher likelihood of accepting treatment that falls outside of the membership benefits when needed.
Aside from predictable recurring income, membership plans like those created with Plan Forward can also provide practices with valuable insights about their patients which optimize how they package and market their plans. For practices with multiple locations, membership plans can be tweaked for a unique set of services and fee schedule that makes the most sense.
It’s time that the power of “it’s included” was used to help consumers live better lives. With dental membership plans from Plan Forward, more patients can affordably access quality dental care regardless of their insurance status, and more practices can take control of their profitability and production. That’s a bundle of benefits we can all get behind.