What is a Dental Wellness Membership Plan?
in-house dental wellness membership plans allows patients to purchase a
“membership” to a specific dental practice that provides all of their
preventive wellness care needs, such as professional dental cleanings,
dentist exams, required x-rays, an emergency exam if needed, and savings
on other restorative and cosmetic procedures. By offering an in-house
dental membership savings plan, dental practices have a simple option
for reaching the growing number of uninsured patients in their
Eliminates #1 Reason Patients Avoid the Dentist
primary reason patients avoid the dentist is a lack of insurance.(1) By
offering an in-house membership plan as an alternative to insurance
directly through the practice, dental professionals are addressing the
primary barrier to increasing new patient flow and practice growth.
46% of the potential patient population in the United States does not
have dental insurance(2), and 87% of patients purchasing new medical
insurance plans on the ACA exchange are opting out of the dental
option3. Since 2003, the number of insured patients in the United States
has been on the decline(4). Therefore, the need for a dental practice
to offer some type of alternative for patients that do not have dental
insurance is essential for practice growth.
plans are extremely simple concepts for patients to understand, and
many patients often hold membership plans to other local service
providers. As a member, patients make small monthly payments in exchange
for necessary preventive dental services and as a loyal member, they
receive special discounts on other services. In comparison to complex
dental insurance plans, a direct membership plan is clear, concise, and
affordable and clarity trumps everything else in business (Image 1).
making small monthly payments for the membership plan, their dental
membership quickly becomes a habitual part of their monthly expenses
rather than an unexpected or unbudgeted variable cost. This allows the
dental practice to build a patient base with a membership mentality that
will increase patient retention and secure patients to their practice
Sold Anywhere, Anytime
the practice phone was ringing on Tuesday at 10:00 am, would you ignore
it? Dental practices often lose potential new patients simply due to
availability. By offering the monthly membership plan on a practice
website with an e-provider partner,
it can be purchased by new or existing patients at any time. Rather
than giving a potential new patient a business card, or telling them to
call the practice during business hours, patients can go to the
practice’s website and sign up immediately. The entire dental team can
in effect become full time sales ambassadors for the dental practice.
is also very important when it comes to ROI on marketing endeavors.
Whether using social media, mailers, or other media forms, new uninsured
patients may want to join the practice during non-business hours.
Instead of a call to action of filling out a website contact form or
call during business hours, these patients can purchase a membership
through the website immediately.
One of the biggest mistakes small
business owners make is thinking they can’t sell their services online.
Online business-to-customer sales in the United States is growing in
the double digits every year, while brick and mortar sales flat line. A
membership plan offered through a practice’s website allows a practice
to capitalize on a large volume of local customers who otherwise may
have chosen an alternative simply due to the ease of service
availability. Over half of the dental membership plans purchased by
patients are occurring outside of normal business hours according to e-provider statistics.
Puts Responsibility of Appointment on Patient
wellness membership plan also creates a very smart psychological change
in the business dynamics between the dental practice and patients.
Hygiene appointments are the lifeblood of any practice. Instead of
chasing existing patients with or without standard dental insurance with
mailers, phone calls, texts and emails to make and maintain their
hygiene appointments, membership plans put the responsibility of
maintaining appointments on the patient rather than the practice.
it is recommended and prudent to notify patients of their lapse in
dental care, the patient’s membership dues are being paid automatically
to the practice, and if the patient chooses not to make and maintain
their appointments, the financial consequences are already built into
the membership plan. An average of 18% (5) of patients who have coverage
for preventive care do not see the dentist twice a year. Instead of an
insurance company reaping that financial benefit, the financial windfall
goes to the practice where it belongs.
Independence and Control
of the biggest issues dental practices that are dependent on insurance
patients face is the lack of control over fees and payments from dental
insurance companies. As the number of insured continues to decrease and
costs continue to rise, dental insurance companies are putting the
squeeze on practice providers in order to maintain their revenues. By
building an independent membership patient base, practices begin build a
more secure future for the practice.
With a membership plan, the
practice sets the membership prices, fees, and exclusions for any
discounted services, putting them in control of their own revenues.
Membership patients also have a much higher acceptance rate of
restorative and cosmetic treatment plans because the special membership
discount gives them the secure feeling of obtaining a “good deal” on the
quality dentistry they want and need, opposed to the decision process
of patients in need of dentistry that is “not covered” by their
insurance, or who are not receiving a membership discount. These
circumstances immediately create a psychological barrier to the patient
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