Changing the Narrative
By Heidi Arndt
Getting non-insured patients engaged in your group practice
Research shows that dental benefits are an important driver for dental care use. Patients who have insurance benefits are twice as likely to visit a dentist compared to a person without benefits.
How many patients do you have visiting your group practice that do not have insurance? How are you addressing these patients?
When you start to look at your patient base, how do you view your non-insured patients? Oftentimes team members will write these patients off as they don’t believe they will be compliant or interested in comprehensive patient care. While research does support this assumption, I believe it is our role to change the narrative with these patients.
Ninety-Seven million patients in the United States do not have dental insurance. According to the ADA, only 40 percent of these patients visit a dentist every year. Why is this? Are we talking to these patients differently? Can these patients afford regular dental care? Do these patients value good oral health?
Here are three ways you can get these patients engaged in your group practice.
1.Educate all patients the same regardless of their insurance or benefits.
This may sound elementary, but all too often we’re having conversations and creating treatment plans based on the patient’s insurance coverage. While we want to be conscious of their benefits, we also need to understand the message we are giving our patients. When training our providers, we need to be sure we are focusing on comprehensive and preventive dentistry.
2.Cost is the number one reason people stay away from the dentist.
While our providers need to focus on presenting treatment, we need to be ensured the administrative staff understands all of the options for offering affordable dental care to patients, and that they are comfortable doing so. No matter how the patient is paying, I believe it is best to always take the approach when discussing fees with the patient.
Show the UCR fee for the procedure.
Subtract out the discounted fee (negotiated PPO fee or Membership Plan fee)
Equals the amount due to the patient.
By using this process, you can demonstrate the savings they receive from their dental insurance or their membership plan. If we are only showing the patient the discounted fee, they cannot see what true savings they are receiving from their plan.
Transparency in fees is important. This transparency will support the patient appreciating the value of the care they are receiving, and the benefits provided by their insurance or membership plan.
3.Membership plans are the future.
Ninety-seven million patients don’t have dental insurance, and this creates a perfect opportunity for the dental practice to build a strong relationship with the patient by offering a membership.
Unlike insurance, membership plans encourage plan utilization rather than placing restrictions on plan usage.
No Waiting Periods
Most membership plans offer a discounted fee for dental care, and other perks that will keep the patient engaged in your practice.
There are many different membership plans available today, and most can be tailored to your dental group. While there are many options available for membership support, it’s important to pick a partner who will support you with the marketing, customer service and the education you need to be successful.