January 7, 2016 – If you’ve been following health care news, you might have seen articles about the rise of “Concierge Medicine.” In this business model, medical doctors operate by charging a monthly fee. In return, they give patients certain services, with discounts on services not covered by the retainer fee. In the past, only the very wealthy could afford to have a doctor on retainer. However, there are now many doctors offering concierge medicine at affordable prices.
A Business Case for Oral Physicians: Market Analysis and Potential Practice Models for Dentists to Address the United States Primary Care Shortage
The patients get all of their primary care covered for a predictable fee which is usually lower than the cost of equivalent insurance coverage. The provider gets a more regular income stream and can avoid dealing with insurance companies. Usually concierge patients also receive certain guarantees about scheduling appointments and wait times. Concierge plans save both patients and doctors times and money.
So far, concierge care hasn’t really taken off in the dental industry. Instead, people with dental insurance expect to receive most care at little or no out of pocket cost, and people without dental insurance neglect necessary treatments until underlying issues become too painful to ignore. However, an in-house savings plan can give you and your patients many of the same benefits that medical doctors receive from concierge plans. With an in-house savings plan, patients pay a set monthly fee for care. The plan offers certain services for free and others at a sizeable discount. Patients without employer-provided dental plans usually pay less than they would to buy dental insurance, and receive slightly better benefits. Meanwhile, the dentist receives a predictable stream of income and avoids insurance claims. Fewer claims means that you free up your office staff to schedule new patients instead of sitting on hold with insurers.
When I developed my in-house dental savings plan, I decided to offer similar benefits to insurance, but at half the price. You can find the details on benefits offered and how the cost to me was equivalent to the cost of being an in-network dentist in my new book, Grow Your Dental Practice with Wine and Cheese. Once I explained how the plan worked to uninsured seniors, they were eager to give it a try. You see, most of those uninsured people who neglect dental care avoid treatments because they’re afraid of how much they might cost. They can actually afford dental care, but after a lifetime of dealing with ‘free’ treatments from insurance, they have no idea how affordable most procedures are. A dental savings plan gives them the ability to budget for regular dental care. Your plan improves their oral health and saves you the hassle of dealing with insurers.
These plans, like concierge medicine, are becoming more popular because they meet an unfulfilled need. Be the first practice in your area to offer a plan, and grow your practice by bringing dental care to an under-served group: retired seniors.