As Dental Service Organizations (DSOs) look to modernize their practices to meet shifting consumer needs in a pandemic-altered operational environment, dental membership plans have taken center stage.

According to a 2021 survey by the American Dental Association, 25 percent of DSOs in the United States currently offer dental membership plans, enabling millions of people to access quality dental care at affordable prices.

For patients, enrolling in their practice’s dental membership plan gives them access to transparent member-only discounts on dental care services like exams, x-rays, cleanings, root canals, crowns, and more.

A Dentist Checking a Patient's Teeth

For DSOs, the benefits are multifaceted as dental membership plans enhance everything from payment options to patient connections, helping create thriving, sustainable DSOs in today’s rapidly changing dental landscape.

Here are five ways DSOs can benefit from offering a dental membership plan within their practices:

#1 Engage a New Generation of Dental Consumer 

Millions of people lost access to their employer-sponsored healthcare during the pandemic as record-breaking resignations, pandemic-related disruptions, and other factors derailed an already fragile payment structure. 

Meanwhile, many people are turning to gig work and freelance work arrangements that offer more autonomy and flexibility but frequently lack healthcare coverage. This growing cohort represents more than a third of the American workforce. More than a third of freelancers live without health insurance, and an analysis by the United States Census Bureau found adults between 19 and 34 have the highest uninsured rate in the country.

An Accenture healthcare consumer survey found that younger people are less likely than their contemporaries to value or pursue traditional insurance coverage.

Membership plans speak directly to this new generation of dental consumers chronically eschewing their dental health because of cost and accessibility. 

#2 Diversify Revenue Opportunities 

Introducing membership plans doesn’t mean DSOs abandon their existing insurance provider relationships. PPOs will continue to play a foundational role in today’s healthcare infrastructure. However, insurance alone can’t account for today’s dental consumers’ multifaceted and diverse coverage scenarios. 

When DSOs implement membership plans, they diversify their revenue opportunities by expanding coverage to people without traditional insurance coverage, including people experiencing job disruptions, entering the freelance economy, or navigating limited Medicare consumers.

By offering membership plans in a public marketplace, like membersy MarketplaceSM, dental consumers can compare plans and select providers and DSOs can reach a bigger audience than ever before. 

In addition, membership plans provide DSOs with a higher percentage of revenue than PPO arrangements, further enhancing revenue growth. When coupled with subscription-based payment options, membership plans foster diverse, sustainable revenue streams. With many practices operating at 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, membership plans allow dental practices to diversify their revenue opportunities at a critical time. 

#3 Connect Directly with Dental Consumers 

Today’s dental consumers expect a personalized experience complete with timely and custom communication practices. 

These expectations directly impact practice perception and patient retention. American Dental Association (ADA) notes, “Your ability to communicate with patients impacts their perception of your practice. Managing that perception is critical to providing patients with ethical, personalized, high-quality care that maintains, or improves, their oral health and their overall health and well-being.”

Dentist and Patient Doing High-Five

Membership plans meet this demand by making it easier to conduct authentic relationships with dental consumers. For example, with Membersy Connect, DSOs can easily promote membership and facilitate subscription payments, allowing practices to meet their patients wherever they are – online, in-person, and anything in-between.

#4 Prioritize Price Transparency 

Vibrant, thriving, and loyal patient communities are predicated on trust. However, it can be difficult to trust healthcare providers when costs increase annually while care outcomes remain the same year after year. 

Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that a Kaiser Family Foundation study found that nearly 40 percent of respondents described today’s health structure as “expensive” and “broken.” DSOs can respond to this troubling trend by embracing unparalleled price transparency through membership plans that clearly connect with cost and oral health outcomes. 

Since membership plans eliminate deductibles, co-pays, hidden fees, and surprise bills, DSOs can operate confidently, knowing they are operating transparently, building trust and loyalty. 

#5 Maintain Agility at All Times 

The dental industry is changing for the better. New operational models, including membership plans, are allowing more DSOs to offer high-quality service to more people, creating thriving patient communities and sustainable practices. 

Perhaps most importantly, membership plans return decision-making and control to DSOs by giving them the freedom and flexibility to develop the coverage plans that best promote oral health outcomes and support practice continuity. 

Simply put, in a fast-changing healthcare environment, membership plans position DSOs to maintain agility at all times. To learn more about how membersy can help your DSO implement no-hassle membership plans.