Dental practices have been re-opening across the country as restrictions on the Corona pandemic are lessening for oral healthcare. But where are the patients, and how many of them plan to return for treatment in 2020? For those that consider coming back to your practice, you need to provide affordable options for them to see you. One of those ways, especially for the uninsured and self-pay patients, is to offer them a membership plan which provides a significant upside to both providers and patients.

When weighing the pros and cons of putting your own membership plan in place, you should consider how a well-managed program administered by a compliant discount medical plan organization can help your practice(s) increase patient traffic as well as your case acceptance rates. Consider the facts about re-energizing your dental business with your own membership plan as it relates to your continued economic success.

Membership plans establish a loyalty between patient and provider. These plans provide a flexible, affordable option to access needed dental care. The membership fee usually offsets the costs associated with standard hygiene visits. Plus, for the patient, there are discounted fees for any restorative or elective procedures.  Members have an incentive to remain a patient within the practice, and any changes in employment will not disturb the ability to get treatment. The membership plan supports itself on its own merit.

The genius behind the membership is that it provides an ongoing administrative and financial structure to bring in additional revenues for your practice(s). When patients invest in their dental care by joining a membership plan, they are more likely to use it.  As a result, DSO’s and dental practices typically experience greater patient retention rates, fewer cancellations, higher case acceptance and healthier patients.

Also, for the DSOs and practices that treat patients using this type of membership program, the average production increase per visit is roughly $200 per patient. A study was completed in 2019 from participating dental practices across the country with about 4,000 patients that were in the under-insured or non-insured category.

The results indicated that those patients in membership programs increased revenue by 104%, meaning those patients participating in a membership plan outspent two to one over those patients who were not enrolled in a membership program. According to Dentistry Today magazine, additional data suggests that plan members can spend anywhere from 2 to 3.4 times more than the average uninsured patients.

Another key aspect to having your own membership plan is the transparency you provide to patients. When they have information provided to them through their membership materials which shows the ADA codes and related costs associated with treatment, the dental practice has helped alleviate sticker shock at check out. The patient knows in advance what costs should be for their visit. Appointments can be better planned when patients know how much they need to prepare to pay for any given procedures.

When presenting treatment plans, showing your patients how much money to the dollar they will save compared to what they would have paid without a membership is an effective way to convince them to accept treatment. A membership plan provides savings to patients and opens the door for people who may have previously delayed preventive, restorative or elective procedures based on cost. Give your patients a financial reason to come back for treatment.

At the end of the day, dental providers struggle to efficiently service and retain uninsured patients.  As a result, dental providers feel the negative impact of low production numbers from their patients who are uninsured. Many dentists also still continue to depend on third party insurance plans that do not have the best interests of their practices in mind.

Not only that, but collection rates soar when payors push back on claims and payment dates, thereby extending accounts receivables to even higher percentages of delinquency. Plan members pay at the time of service. And, they come back for additional oral health treatment due to their investment in a membership plan and the out of pocket savings with the dental practice.

Using a certified plan administrator to power your membership plan ensures the DSO and the dentists that effective, compliant administration provides additional revenue, higher case acceptance, greater patient loyalty to the dental practice(s) as well as a reduced burden on the medical healthcare system and increased oral health for the community.

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