Subscription Dentistry: A Win-Win for Patients and Dental Practices

Have you ever considered that there has to be a better way than relying on dental insurance plans?

A frequent question we’re asked is, “Why should we make the switch to offering subscription plans?” Practices are very familiar with the pains caused by dental insurance (or a lack thereof), but they also need to know that subscription dentistry is a good choice for both themselves and their patients.

For our practices in Illinois, being able to offer monthly subscription packages to patients has been a game changer—a win-win for our patients and our business. Here’s why we feel that it’s a good thing for other practices to consider:

How can you sell subscription plans to patients? Here are some points to consider.

The Patient Perspective

Let’s start with your patients who actually have dental insurance. How many are happy with the whole process they need to go through in order to use it?

For many, dental insurance is complicated and possibly infuriating. They find that in an effort to weed out covering pre-existing conditions, their insurance company has imposed a wait period of at least six months. You’re not going to wait that long if a problem has become acute!

Then there are restrictions to the type of work they can get done. They’ll find out that the very thing they really need done isn’t covered under their policy, which is buried somewhere deep within the fine print. It makes it worse when they don’t discover this until after a claim has been submitted, then find themselves on the hook for the full amount of the procedure.

There’s often a perceived lack of transparency when it comes to what is covered and what isn’t. There are thousands of complicated insurance codes in dentistry and the practice won’t usually know what’s covered until a claim is submitted. This can lead to mistrust of the dental practice if the patient is surprised by the final bill.

Many often find that they’re paying a relatively high monthly premium, yet their annual benefit caps are quite low. $1500 is common, and this hasn’t changed in years despite the overall costs of things going up. The patient comes in and finds that their annual cap is blown in one visit and has an overall feeling of receiving little value from their insurance policy.

Now, let’s look at your uninsured patients. For many, it’s because they simply can’t afford insurance. For others, it’s because they have difficulty accessing it. Insurance policies were designed to be taken up by large groups, so individuals such as retirees or the self-employed can have a hard time trying to buy a policy. Sometimes they can’t get one at all, other times they have to wait a year or more.

When we introduced monthly subscription plans, we had overall positive feedback from both groups of patients. One of the key positives for them? Transparency. They knew exactly what they were getting and could see where plan tiers made sense to them. While insured patients can’t use a Health Assurance subscription plan alongside their insurance, many have found that it’s a better option and have replaced their insurance with it.

Transparency is a key positive for dental patients on a subscription plan. Click To Tweet

You don’t need complex procedural codes or confusing fine-print with a Health Assurance plan. The dental practice is free to create the plan tiers as they see fit in order to best cater to the needs of their patient base. The patient can see what’s included with each plan, along with how much they will need to pay. If they need to pay anything on top of their monthly plan amount for a procedure, they are able to know exactly how much ahead of time—no more nasty surprises waiting in the mailbox!

Your Practice Team

The experience of dealing with insurance for your practice team often tends to be as frustrating as it is for your patients. For starters, where there are issues for patients there will be issues for someone in your practice.

A common question is, “Does my insurance cover this?” So when it turns out that insurance won’t cover as much as expected or won’t cover that particular procedure at all, the dental team often finds that they lose the patient. How many of us have seen that happen when things as basic as fluoride or x-rays aren’t covered by the patient’s insurance policy? These are often unpleasant conversations for the dental team and patients.

On the other hand, the question as to whether or not a procedure is covered becomes very easy if you have patients using a subscription plan you have set up. Transparency is a huge bonus here—it tips the bias toward a mutual goal of good dental health, rather than a patch and repair service.

Spare a thought for your administrative team too. Who is it that usually fields angry phone calls when bills have been sent out revealing that insurance didn’t cover what was expected? Administrative staff tend to put up with a lot, including the difficult task of trying to find ways to help uninsured patients who are shopping around (often with an acute condition already presenting).

Dealing with billing and insurance companies can also take up a lot of valuable admin time, as your team members need to decipher those complex codes too. How does subscription dentistry help with all this? Well, some patients won’t need to be billed at all for starters, as their work will be covered by their monthly plan.

Secondly, better transparency leads to less irate phone calls to deal with. Administrative staff also find that some load is taken off them because a Health Assurance subscription plan is billed monthly and automatically. For those patients who don’t need additional billing, workload can be cut back greatly.

Hygienists and dental assistants also catch a break with the implementation of subscription dentistry. Instead of having to spend a lot of time trying to convince patients to save a tooth or to book regular hygiene appointments, the conversation is changed because the monthly plan makes it easy for the patient to do those things. The dental staff can focus on getting the patient to wellness, then setting up a plan that is designed to keep them there.

Your Practice Health

If patients are happier, your practice has to be winning, right? We’ve found that offering subscription plans helps to not only improve relationships with patients, but open up opportunities for the practice to reach new groups of people it may not have before.

Dental practices can design their own single or multi-tier plans based upon the needs they assess within their own area. This means they’re customized to suit and provide the practice with an attractive service for patients, allowing them to grow their base.

There’s also a lot to be said for predictable monthly cash flow. Many practices go through ebbs and flows where certain months are dead quiet, but subscription plans allow you to keep a regular cash flow going into the business. If you were relying solely on insurance or payments from the uninsured, you’d have a quiet month with little cash flow—you may even be reducing hours of team members to try to reduce expenses.

On the other hand, where you’ve set up those win-win plans, patients are happy to be paying each month because they can see that they’re getting value from doing so. There are clear savings without the barriers presented by having a third party in the mix, so patients are much happier choosing to stick with a plan to bring them to health.

Since most costs are fixed, most gains in revenue are realized as pure profit. Dentists frustrated with rising overhead now have a method to regain the revenue that can restore income and profit growth in their practices. Because patients stick around, you don’t need to spend more on marketing to replace churning patients.

Another bonus for you? If your team has to deal with fewer frustrations, it becomes a more pleasant environment for everyone. Team members are keen to stay working in your practice and can be there to form true relationships with your patients.

How do you sell subscription plans? Get our tips here.

Final Thoughts

Our own experience has been a doubling of per-patient revenue and growth of our customer base across our two practices, just through offering Health Assurance subscription plans.

Patients are happier. People who were uninsured previously have a simple solution to get the care they need, while people who were insured find a product that saves them money and is simple to understand.

We call that a win-win!


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