How to Set Up Your Own In-House Dental Membership
If you double the number of experiements you do per year, you’re going to double your inventiveness” – Jeff Bezos
Isn’t dental insurance great? Many of our patients have PPO Dental insurance plans. These plans most often require that our patients:
-Pay monthly premiums into the plans every month – to the insurance company
-Pay a deductible to begin having ‘coverage’
-Have a ‘yearly maximum’ for their coverage
-Restrict the TYPE of dental treatment the patient can have, regardless what the dentist and patient decide together is best
– Have waiting periods and limitations that can leave the insurance non-effective for stretches of time
-Surprisingly have treatment DENIED and not paid for, then they get stuck with the bill (and they are upset), or we the dentist eat the bill (and we are upset)
– Give patients a discount on treatment
Well….most of that stuff sucks. For the patient and for the dentist.
But there is another option that is becoming more and more popular in the world of private practice dentistry; which is to step outside of the insurance realm all together. This option is an In-House Dental Membership Plan. Which eliminates many of the drawbacks of insurance (because its not insurance), but still allows dental care to become more financially tangible for our patients, while at the same time serving as a marketing, patient attracting, and case acceptance tool for us – the dental practice owner.
Insurance is defined as: “A practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for payment of a premium.”
Conversely, a Membership Plan will eliminate the need for a that 3rd party (‘company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation’) and brings the relationship back to simply being between the patient and the dental practice. A Dental Membership Plan is more akin to a discount plan at Costco – or Sam’s Club.
The Gist of a Dental Membership Plan is TYPICALLY as follows:
-The plan is set up by the dental practice
-The patient pays a monthly or yearly fee to the practice
-The patient has no ‘yearly maximum’ or secretive restrictions
-The patient recieves set discounts, and free treatment, for their dental care
-The middle-man of the insurance company is cut out; one less entity to pay and take a slice of the pie
-This plan helps the uninsured niche feel like obtaining affordable dental care is more possible.
6 Essential Parts of an In-House Dental Membership Plan (sample):
1)An Up Front Cost:
Patient agrees to pay $350 per year
-If patient wants to add a spouse additional $300 per year
-If patient wants to add a child additional $200 per year
2) Something Free:
Patient recieves cleanings, exams, x-rays, and fluoride Tx for the year at no additional charge
3) Discounted Treatment:
Patient recieves 20% off any and all additional dental treatment needed for the year
4) Have Patient Sign a Terms of Agreement:
Write, or have a lawyer right, a terms of agreement which outlines the specifications of your plan. If you want a copy of my terms of agreement. Send me an email and put “In House Membership” in the Subject line. Email to PracticeBiopsy@gmail.com
5) Track the Timing of the Membership:
In your practice management software, or by other means, indicate the date the pts plan starts and expires. So there are no surprises.
6) Issue a Physical Membership Card to the Patient:
Have physical membership cards designed and made to give to your patient. They will keep it in their wallet and it will make the plan feel for ‘real’ to them, and they will be more likely to use it for treatment at your office. The image below is what my membership cards look like. They are the size, material, and thickness of a credit card. I had them made by PlasticResource.com
The specifics of the exact %’s and dollar amounts are totally determined by you – and will depend on the economics of the demographic your practice is serving, as well as the specific goals of your dental practice.
MOST IMPORTANT FACT IN THIS POST: Some states have laws which RESTRICT these types of plans. Before creating your own in house memebership plan, please contact the legal department at your state dental association and verify that thes plans are legal in your state. I’m in Michigan….it’s legal here.
Also, so that you can sleep easy at night – you may want to have your lawyer review any legal documents that you have having your patient sign regarding this plan. If you sleep easy at night without a lawyer reading over your plan, that’s fine too….your call.
If you also take dental insurance, you likely can’t legally explicitly prohibit people with insurance from having your memebership plan. However, it wouldn’t really make sense for them to pay for insurance and also pay for your plan, right? Also, you can prohibit double stacking of discounts – as in, you can’t have a discount from your in house plan stacked for a double discount after getting the discount from your insurance. Got it?
Here is my In-House Dental Membership Sales Sheet
You can use it as a template
–DeAngelo S. Webster, DDS
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