Most dentists we know are frustrated with insurance.
Too often, the gap between your listed prices and what carriers are willing to pay seems to do only one thing: get wider. And basic but essential services like cleanings may even end up losing your practice money to provide.
That’s why many dentists are exploring options to move away from insurance. In-house membership plans, especially, are becoming popular — not just as a second-tier alternative to insurance but as a primary option that offers patients more value than they’d see by sticking with their insurance plan.
Some dentists are even convincing local businesses to offer practice membership plans to their employees in lieu of dental insurance.
We applaud that sort of creative thinking. But we also want to offer a note of caution.
If you’re moving to reduce or eliminate insurance billing from your dental practice, don’t do it overnight.
Why? If you’re like most dentists, insurance patients make up a significant portion of your weekly bookings.
That means that if you stop accepting insurance all at once, you’ll probably lose many of those patients. Sure, they may like you and appreciate your work — but think how many decisions you make based simply on a combination of what’s easy and costs less money.
If you abruptly remove the convenience of accepting a patient’s insurance — while simultaneously asking them to spend more out of pocket to visit your practice — don’t expect them to stick around.
Worse, not only will you take an earnings hit, but all of a sudden, the loss of patients means that you won’t have enough hours to give your hygienists and support team. And unless your team is okay with working only part-time (or you’re willing to make up the difference in their paychecks), you’ll probably lose most of them along with your patients.
So, what to do? Try slowly transitioning away from insurance over several years. Cut out one plan at a time and give everyone involved plenty of notice. Whenever you can, talk to your patients face-to-face about the change.
That courtesy may help keep more of them around. Also, make sure you invest enough in your marketing to fill in any gaps in your schedule left by those insurance patients who do decide to go elsewhere.
Even better, you won’t experience any sudden need to significantly cut back hours, so you’ll see much less disruption to your team.
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