The COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the economy, setting off mass layoffs and upending lives and businesses across the country. By June 2020, it’s estimated that a staggering 27 million people will have lost health and dental insurance coverage.
The effects to dentistry were immediately seen – with a 70% drop in dental expenditures, as many offices were forced to close or see emergency patients only. But the long term effects are equally as alarming: it’s estimated that dental spending and utilization will go down by
34% in the year following the pandemic, largely driven by a loss of insurance and corresponding decrease in claims.
Having dental coverage is a key indicator and predictor of dental service utilization. Disposable income also plays a role, because most dental insurance doesn’t cover more extensive procedures. The extent of the economic downturn cannot be predicted, and it will likely take some time for re-employment and employer based coverage to resume. While unemployment numbers may go down, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a decrease in the uninsured, because many of the new jobs added are part time or don’t qualify for benefits. This is particularly problematic for dental services, because people will have less coverage AND lower disposable income.
A DIY Solution
The best (and perhaps only) solution is to offer a Dental Membership Savings Plan of your own. Now, more than ever, patients need access to in-house discount programs offered directly from dental practices. In-office membership plans provide dental savings to patients at an affordable monthly or annual rate. With options limited for employer based coverage and lower incomes, your office can offer it’s own in-house dental savings plan for those who need it most.
The reduction in patient volume due to capacity and staffing limitations, and the commensurate increase in overhead due to PPE and sanitization requirements, means most dentists can no longer afford to treat patients without adequate compensation. If you can see fewer patients, then you may have to temporarily suspend one or more in-network contracts with low reimbursement – this is all the more reason to offer an alternative. Your in-house plan may offer a convenient solution for patients who have lost their insurance and those whose coverage has become out-of-network.
If you haven’t started your dental membership savings plan, the time is now – your patients and your practice will thank you for it!
Here are some convenient resources to get started:
- Dental Savings Plan Startup Checklist
- Ultimate Guide to Dental Membership Management Software Platforms