Greg Beck

Tired of tussles with insurance companies and the aggrieved patients they often produce? Consider a self-administered in-office plan instead.

Greg BeckHAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED establishing your own in-office, self-administered Private Dental Plan (PDP)? One key advantage it offers is limiting one’s dependence on insurance-based dentistry. Every year, as you are surely aware, dental insurance plans cover less and cost your patients more.

You might already recognize the benefits that can accrue when you have your own in-office program, but are you prepared to eliminate a plan (or plans) for patients whom you rely upon? Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of practices that have successfully purged their existing plans. Here are some key considerations to keep in mind.

  1. Start with one plan you know you’d like to eliminate. Calculate the percentage of write-down on your reimbursement versus your private fee; the number of patients on the plan; the ease of collecting reimbursements; and the quality of the plan’s patient base. If you have multiple plans, don’t eliminate them all at once. Start with the least desirable according to these factors, then slowly go up the ladder so you’re not overwhelmed with converting patients en masse.
  2. Have a plan of action to convert your patients to your PDP. People want options, and you need to be prepared to offer some, thereby encouraging your patients to remain with you instead of going elsewhere. A simple phone call can be a truly important move to retain their business. Prepare as well with letters, explanatory brochures and applications to send to them.
  3. Target those who purchase their insurance individually. Those individuals pay more than someone who is part of a group plan—especially when an employer contributes to the premium. As such, anyone on an existing group plan is not really a target for conversion.
  4. Unlike medical insurance, dental insurance is meant only to help pay for treatment. It doesn’t cover catastrophic conditions, for example, nor will it completely cover treatments. Make sure that your patients understand this, and inform them that third-party insurance doesn’t provide advantages. Your self-administered Private Dental Plan is a much more attractive option.
  5. Be realistic: You won’t convince all your patients to join your in-office plan. There are tactics that will help you boost the numbers, however. You’ll have a much better conversion rate if you speak with patients by phone rather than via the more impersonal email, text or letter. If your staff is too busy to spearhead this initiative, consider using a temporary outside service to make calls and coordinate plan signups.

Making sure that your patients understand their options helps demonstrate that you’re dedicated to their oral-health needs. This is important—and something they’ll be sure to appreciate when you reach out to them. If you’re interested in learning more about how a Private Dental Plan can help you and your patients alike, please visit inofficedentalplans.com to get started.

GREG BECK, the president of Dental Practice Services in Overland Park, Kansas, is program manager of the Private Dental Plan program. Dental Practice Services, which works throughout all 50 states, has operated the PDP initiative for nearly two decades.