The simplest way to know if your dental patients are looking for a dental plan is to ask them! However, a lot can be found online, too. The number of average monthly searches for the term “dental plans” (and related queries: e.g., dental plans near me, what are dental plans, etc.) is nearly 22,000 searches per month for the last 12 months.
That’s a lot of people interested in dental plans–from seniors to new parents to working professionals–which is why considering an in-house plan for your practice is a great idea!
How Many People in the U.S. Don’t Have a Dental Plan?
According to the NADP, at the end of 2016 only 66% of Americans had dental benefits. That leaves nearly 114 million Americans who do not have dental coverage, many of whom you probably will not see in your office if they can’t afford the care. This includes young kids, parents, individuals and seniors! They are all looking for affordable dental plans and options, or else they will just forego the treatment they need to save their money.
How Can My Dental Office Help Patients Who Are Looking for a Dental Plan?
Create an in-house dental plan of your own! An in-house plan is often set up like a dental discount plan. This kind of plan can help patients afford the care they need, and keeps them coming back to your office for follow-up work and routine visits.
If you aren’t familiar with dental discount plans, here’s a quick rundown of how they work. These plans give members access to a set schedule of discounts at their dentist, all for one low membership fee. For instance, an adult cleaning that would usually cost $102 out-of-pocket in the state of Texas would now only cost the member $31 with a dental discount plan membership. While that may not seem like the best news to you (the dentist), as far as profits go, these affordable rates keep patients coming back to receive the treatments they need.
Some dental offices have seen discount plan patients spend more per year than cash-paying patients, and even more than their PPO patients!
From our analysis, in a period of one year…
- In-house plan members typically spend $821 on dental care at their dental office
- PPO plan members spend $805
- Cash-paying patients spend $730
As you can see, in-house plan members spend more on their dental care because they are getting a discount on treatment, driving them to spend more in the end. (Think of it like an Amazon Prime membership: Even though they offer significant perks to their members AND free shipping, Prime members are known to spend a lot more than what non-members spend). If you add enough members to your in-house plan, you can see how profitable this can be for your office (not to mention helping patients get the dental care they need).
Are Other Dentists Offering Their Own Dental Plans?
There are thousands of dental offices in the U.S. that have begun offering their own dental plan. They’ve seen the need for in-house plans and the benefits of offering them.
Let’s face it, creating your own plan…
- Caters to what you and your patients need in a dental plan
- Brings in additional revenue for your practice
- Cuts down on paperwork that needs to be filled out
- Ensures procedures/treatments that you want discounted are included in the plan fairly and evenly for all patients
- Improves patient loyalty to your practice by offering the affordable rates patients need
- Decreases turnover rate in patients who need a procedure done but can’t afford it
- Cuts down on skipped and canceled appointments due to cost
Patients can buy dental plans from companies who sell them OR they can buy them from their dentists, making it even easier for them, logistically, and even more profitable for you.
Questions to Consider for Your Dental Practice
As you think about whether you would like to offer an in-house plan at your practice, first consider some of the common questions you get from patients. Then, think about these scenarios…
1. How many times have patients left my office or canceled their appointment because they couldn’t afford the treatment they needed?
The answer to this one is probably quite a lot. Dental care is expensive. Often, patients have to decide what is most important to do now and what they can have done later, because of the cost. Imagine if you could significantly reduce these occurrences. Would you do it? Not only would you earn money you wouldn’t have received otherwise, but you can help care for people’s teeth who might neglect needed dental work due to the cost.
2. Is there a way I can encourage more patients to get the care they need?
In such a competitive market, and due to the nature of business, it can be easy to get caught up solely on the numbers and forget why you went into dentistry in the first place:
To help care for people’s teeth, and make a living while doing it.
It’s important to keep this in mind as you consider how you might help the patients who can’t afford dental care. Is there a way you can help them?
3. How can I improve patient retention and loyalty to my dental practice, thereby increasing profits for my business?
Creating your own in-house dental plan will keep patients coming back to your practice. It meets the increasing need for affordable “dental plans” that we saw in the number of searches used each month for the phrase. Not only that, but an in-house plan is a great revenue source for your dental practice, encouraging patients to spend money receiving the dental care they need.
* THIS PLAN IS NOT INSURANCE and is not intended to replace health insurance.