What a Membership Plan Could Do for Your Dental Practice

It’s no secret that many dentists are less than thrilled with dental insurance. We’ve spoken with more than one doctor who has told us that reimbursement rates continue to go down even as labor and supply costs go up — leaving practices feeling squeezed in the middle.

Now, we’ve written about membership plans as an alternative to the insurance model before. But after recently interviewing Dave Monahan, CEO of the dental membership plan provider Kleer, on Dental Marketing Theory, we want to follow up with some numbers. 

“Every dentist has about a thousand patients,” Dave says. “And about 250 who are uninsured. So 75 percent of the income and production in a practice comes from insured patients. About 25 percent comes from uninsured patients.”

Now, those uninsured patients are typically going to be less able to accept — or afford — treatment. And given that most dental insurance plans come through employers, uninsured patients don’t usually suddenly get insurance unless they find a new job with a better benefits package.

But a good membership plan can offer a pathway to making care more accessible to patients without demanding a change in their employment circumstances. Dave shares that patients who sign up for a practice membership plan built on his company’s platform typically schedule twice as many appointments and commit to twice as much treatment as other uninsured patients.

Why does this happen? In Dave’s view, the answer is surprisingly simple.

“Once somebody buys a subscription, they’re committing to their care,” he says. “They come to their hygiene appointments. Where does treatment come from? Treatment comes from hygiene.”

We’re marketers, so we don’t have a dog in this fight. But we love seeing dentists have options. 

Our hope? That a rise in effective membership plans will make it easier for patients to get care, practices to thrive — and maybe even push insurance carriers to reevaluate their own approach in order to provide additional value.

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