Most dentists think the biggest hurdle to growth and profitability is increasing the number of new patients. This is misguided for two reasons. First, new patient acquisition is very costly, time consuming, and difficult. Most efforts do not pay dividends. Second, the largest growth opportunity is right in front of their eyes. It is their existing, uninsured patients who come in their door every day.
This group has millions of dollars of untreated dentistry in their patient charts right now. The key is unlocking that potential by moving them from a pay-as-you-go model to a subscription model. In doing so, dentists can increase treatment acceptance and revenue by 50% and double the value of their practice.
Options for Patients
Your uninsured patients know that dental health is critical to their overall health. Unfortunately, many of these patients avoid dental visits and decline recommended treatment due to cost, fear of cost, and a lack of coverage. The good news is that 89% of these uninsured patients are interested in purchasing a dental care plan, but believe dental insurance is too expensive and complex, according to market research conducted by Finch Brands for Kleer. In fact, only 7% of uninsured consumers purchase dental insurance if it is not subsidized by their employer, reports the National Association of Dental Plans State of the Dental Benefits Market 2015 report.
So how do you take advantage of this huge opportunity while providing your uninsured patients with the care they want? Membership plans are the answer. Membership plans are dental care plans offered by dentists directly to their patients. Patients pay a monthly or annual subscription directly to their dentist for preventive care and discounts off all other treatment.
These plans are vastly different from dental insurance and discount dental plans because dentists are in control. Dentists design plans to work best for their practice, including setting the subscription price and fee schedule. Patients make payments directly to their dentist, avoiding the cost, hassles, and overhead of a third party.
Uninsured patients skip dental visits and avoid treatment because they don’t have coverage. As a result, they aren’t getting the treatment they want and need. Also, they don’t purchase dental insurance due to cost and complexity. This is where membership plans come in. Membership plans create a “membership club effect,” mitigating fear and giving patients peace of mind. These patients feel protected by the coverage that membership plans provide, so they visit more often and accept more treatment.
We recently conducted research and found that on average, uninsured patients who are on a membership plan accept 55% more treatment in a year than uninsured patients who are not on a plan. The same research also showed that a typical dental office can double the value of its practice by converting its uninsured patient base to membership plans.
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