Why a Small Discount is a Big Draw for Uninsured Dental Patients
In today’s economic environment, attracting and retaining new customers can be a difficult task for just about any business. For the dental industry, the task can sometimes feel like, well, pulling teeth.
As stated in a recent Dental Economics article by healthcare marketing expert Jen McGuire, access to dental insurance is the number one predictor of whether or not a patient will pay a visit to the dentist. And with approximately 50 million people in the United States without dental insurance, you can see why so many dental practices are seeing their patient base diminish more and more.
So what can dentists do to attract more uninsured, fee-for-service patients to their clinic, especially for preventative care? According to Jen McGuire, a good place to start is to offer an in-house discount plan to those without dental coverage.
McGuire believes that most people simply need a reason or incentive—in addition to a nagging ache—to prod them to make an appointment to visit the dentist. You can have the edge so that they choose your practice over another. In-house discount plans are a great way to motivate those patients who want affordable dental care, but do not have insurance available to offset the cost.
So what exactly is an in-house discount plan?
While options for these types of payment plans can vary, they typically are packaged as monthly or annual pre-payments where an uninsured patient will pay for preventative care upfront at around a 10% discount off the normal fee. As McGuire puts it, “By target marketing this type of plan to fee-for-service patients, you give people a reason to say yes to dental care from your practice. Patients pay slightly less out of pocket, and the office increases new-patient flow, patient retention, and case acceptance.”
How can in-house discount plans improve your dental billing and collections processes?
As we’ve previously discussed in our blog, sometimes the best way to improve your patient collection processes is to avoid the process altogether. By having your fee-for-service patients (who are already at the highest risk for delinquencies) pay for their services upfront, you will receive payment regardless of whether or not they ever actually pay you a visit.
Patients will have incentive to keep their appointments, as they will have already paid for their care in advance. As a result, you and your staff will need to spend less time performing collections and making those often-difficult phone calls to patients who fall behind on their bills.
So why can’t an in-house discount plan be a win-win for your dental practice? Wouldn’t you like to focus on what you do best (providing superior dental care) and spend less time performing collections—all while increasing your patient base?
YOUR TURN: What is holding you back from offering an in-house discount plan to your uninsured patients? We believe the decrease in fee is offset by the increase in patient flow and retention that comes as a result of these plans. Do you agree? Why or why not? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
No Legal Advice Intended: This communication is for informational purposes only and is not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and I.C. System, Inc. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal issues.