Dental savings plans (which work like a membership) were already trending before COVID-19 hit, and they seem to have only picked up steam in the days since dental practices have opened back up to full patient loads. Those patients are also navigating a "new normal" in their personal lives, as many have lost their dental insurance benefits.
Many of my friends who are practice management consultants are getting questions about how to set up a dental savings plan and what it really means for the practice. With that in mind, I posed five questions to Jenn Stoll, the chief commercial officer at DentalPlans.com, to see if she could shed some light on a timely topic.
Stoll served as a marketing consultant to DentalPlans.com for two years, as vice president of marketing for five years, and as president for three years before taking on her current role as the company's chief commercial officer. Additionally, she is the chairperson of the Consumer Health Alliance (CHA).
Q: What are the benefits of dental savings plans to a practice?
A: There are three main benefits to accepting dental savings plans at your practice.
First, accepting a dental savings plan, or many, can help a dental practice retain budget-conscious patients and increase treatment plan acceptance rates. Without an affordable option, practices may see patients leave and not come back to complete their treatment plan. Dental savings plans can offer those same patients a cost-effective way to get the care they need and deserve.
Second, dentists who accept dental savings plans are often listed, or even featured, in dentist directories by large marketplaces that sell a wide array of plans. DentalPlans.com, for example, has a directory used by millions of potential patients to search for a plan and provider. Consider this free advertising for your practice.
And lastly, these plans can help you reactivate patients who have gone dormant due to cost.
Q: How can dental savings plans help you increase treatment plan acceptance with your patients?
A: The biggest reason a patient delays treatment is due to out-of-pocket expenses. We've found that presenting a dental savings plan in conjunction with a treatment plan at checkout can increase treatment acceptance rates by 30% to 40%. And because most plans activate the same day, treatment can begin right away. It's a win-win for dentists and patients.
Q: How do dental savings plans compare to dental insurance?
A: With dental savings plans, you receive the payment at the time of service directly from the patient. There are no paperwork hassles, claim forms, or other additional administrative work required by you or your staff.
And, while traditional insurance has out-of-pocket maximums and limits on preexisting conditions, dental savings plans do not. Anyone can join and save, regardless of age or health. These plans work like a Costco membership. You pay a once-a-year membership fee (averaging about $135 per year) and then save all year long.
Q: What types of patients are ideal candidates for a dental savings plan?
A: Dental savings plans are ideal for patients who don't have dental insurance, those who have (or will) exhaust their dental insurance plan's annual limit, or those who are looking for cosmetic dentistry that may not be covered by traditional insurance.
Whether it's for new, existing, or former patients, a dental savings plan can provide cost-effective savings that help them complete their procedures.
Q: How can dental savings plans impact your bottom line?
A: Patients with a dental savings plan are 40% more likely to visit the dentist regularly (and spend double the amount of money) versus those with no coverage at all, so providing patients with additional ways to afford their treatment is significant to your bottom line.
Participating in at least one dental savings plan not only helps fill gaps in your appointment books but also gives you a reactivation tool to bring back previous patients for additional revenue.
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