Today, many Americans don’t have insurance or are unhappy with their coverage. When they require specific types of treatment, they’re often left frustrated by expense, waiting periods, exclusions, deductibles, and the portion of the bill that an insurance carrier won’t even touch.
Fortunately, dentists are starting to change all of that by offering in-house dental savings plans as an affordable alternative to conventional insurance policies.
What is a Dental Savings Plan?
Savings plans are a dental discount program for a low cost monthly or annual subscription fee. They can be done completely in-house or facilitated by a third-party.
Simply put, a traditional in-house savings plan goes something like this: For one annual (or monthly) fee, the patient receives all of their preventative services (including cleanings, x-rays, and exams) plus an additional percentage off of the price of all other treatments, whether they’re restorative or elective cosmetic services. Everyone is accepted and there are no limits on use and no waiting.
Depending on your office’s preferences, you can offer different types of plans, such as individual, family options, senior plans and even perio or restorative plans.
In-House Plan vs. Third Party Plan
According to the ADA, over 25% of Americans are currently without any form of dental insurance and of that, only 20% reported visiting a dentist within the past year. That’s nearly 80 million people! When asked why they’ve been avoiding a visit, the number one answer was cost. With a single preventative visit costing an upwards of $200 it’s no wonder they might forgo a visit.
Most patients love having a dental membership plan because provides them an alternative to having insurance that may not cover the treatment they need. Patients are also much more inclined to follow through with more costly treatment plans if they are incentivized by a discount – which will lead to an increase in case acceptance.
Having an in-house dental membership plan also improves patient loyalty. When someone is registered with an in-house dental plan they will return to the practice where they’re a member, rather than moving to a competitor down the street that is offering a cheap cleaning promotion. Savings plans can be compared to Amazon’s subscription model – a person is much more likely to return to your practice if they are receiving additional discounts by being enrolled in a membership plan.
Another challenge in dentistry is working with dental insurance companies. Over the years they have made the reimbursement process more difficult. With a savings plan there are no claims to deal with because everything is facilitated in house at time of service and all procedures are included. Additionally, the more patients you are able to enroll in a savings plan, the more profitable your practice will become with foreseeable income. This is a great benefit that comes with offering any type of savings plan!
Not only will it make billing easier, but in-house savings plans are another means to boost recurring revenue with a predictable stream of income. The nationwide average membership plan costs a patient about $350 per year or about $30 per month. If your office signs up 500 patients over the year, you can expect to see an extra $175,000 annually or $15,000 per month in revenue. That’s a ton of extra revenue! As these patients are also more likely to receive more treatment from you, this is even more additional income for your practice with exponential ROI. For tips on pricing your plan, be sure to read this.
Offering a third-part dental savings plan will certainly drive in new patients for your practice since they can have a large pool of patients, however you often lose many of the great benefits that come with offering the plan in the first place. Third-party plans often allow the patient to use the plan at any dental practice or specialty that participates, however this often drives down retention rates and loyalty to one specific practice. Also, third-party plans also keep most, if not all of the monthly or annual membership rates that the patient pays for. Using the example above, that’s a ton of lost revenue!
How to get started with your savings plan
Begin by checking with your local obligations before you start your in-house membership. Compliance on savings plans may vary from state-to-state based on your regional insurance regulations, so you should discuss with your attorney as you create your savings plan.
Then, determine the type of plan(s) you would want to offer, pricing and payment schedule. Annual plans will be easier to service and maintain, however, monthly payment options are much more attractive for patients. So, if you want to offer this you may want to look into software to service payments.
Along with payment collection, you’ll need to take into consideration the logistics of your plan. How will you keep track of the preventative services your patients use up? How will you track the revenue you’ve generated form this plan? How will you know if these are new or existing patients that are joining your plan? Will patients receive a membership ID? How will patients keep track of their account? Check out this comprehensive guide on rolling out a professionally administered plan.
There are plenty of companies out there that can service your dental savings plan, such as DentalStores.com – we will automate all of your payments, validate and maintain your patients’ activity and provide your office with e-commerce software where you can manage the overall health of your savings plans. You can visit DentalStores.com to learn more about the benefits of using software to service your new savings plan.
Lastly, you’ll want to market your plan(s) – begin with letting existing patients know about the service, sharing it on your social media and your website, and emailing your patient base. Be sure to mention it at each patient appointment for the next six months, to ensure that your entire patient population has a chance to discover what potential savings are in store for them if they join. You can also send out direct mailers, print ads, and run ads on Facebook or another channel that will reach your target market.
For a complete list to successively excuse your plan, check out our checklist below.
All things considered, subscription-based dentistry is disrupting the dental market and offering a solution to the millions of Americas that don’t have dental insurance and will benefit your dental practice in a number of ways, such as:
- Becoming less reliant on insurance
- Attracting new patients that without dental insurance
- Increase patient loyalty
- Increasing case acceptance
- Boosting predictable revenue
Using professional software, like DentalStores.com, to service your savings plan make it easier for automate billing, boost revenue and for tracking program usage. Whether you plan to use software or not, you should certainly evaluate if a savings program will work for your practice.