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Don’t Let Your Patients’ Unused Dental Benefits Expire

By Planet DDS
November 10, 2021

By Dr. Greg Grillo

Someone once said, “Days go slow, years go fast.” We’re aware that the calendar pages keep turning every year even when we think there’s plenty of time to get through our list. Healthcare appointments for non-urgent care often shift to the backburner. When the phone rings in December, it’s usually a patient looking for an appointment before their insurance runs out. Patients don’t need to understand every detail of their dental insurance benefits. But they often need a little help from us to keep them on track. We can suggest strategies that avoid unnecessary costs from expired benefits or neglected dental treatment.

1. Prioritize Prevention: Make It Mission Critical

Most patients know that their policies generally pay for two professional cleanings and exams each year, and these services usually require the lowest out-of-pocket expense. Preventive care drives many patients to their first visit, and it can help motivate patients to keep coming back. STRATEGY: Preset hygiene visits to fit the second one in before the end of the year. At the first visit of the year, prioritize any treatment needs and encourage patients to schedule their follow-up dental work before leaving the office. Our practice uses LEGWORK DENTAL APPOINTMENT REMINDERS to connect via text, email, phone, and postcard options so that patients don’t miss their visits.

2. Elevate Remedies: Don’t Get Ambushed

Patients often expect dental insurance plans to cover major dental procedures the same way they cover preventive care. We know that DENTAL BENEFITS HAVEN’T CHANGED MUCH IN 50 YEARS , and patients quickly find paying for dental services escalates beyond their meager plans. We providers serve a vital role in helping our patients understand how to maximize their benefits and think beyond their insurance benefits. STRATEGY : Discuss treatment and show patients how to spread out complex plans across two benefit years. For example, If a patient needs a root canal and a crown, you could complete the root canal in one calendar year and the crown in the next. Patients appreciate the consideration and assistance, and you’re able to provide better health care. Use automated tools, like LEGWORK PAPERLESS FORMS , to free your staff from mundane tasks so they can focus on more of these high-value interactions. Add custom messaging on reminders in the second half of the year to remind patients to ask about their unused health insurance benefits.

3. Split Missions: Integrate Resources for Better Care

Dental insurance often motivates patients to seek dental care, but their coverage amount varies, and it’s not always enough to meet their goals. The MEDIAN SAVINGS ACCOUNT IN THE U.S. HOLDS $5300 , and it’s unrealistic to expect most patients to cover larger balances in one payment. Consider how most people make significant purchases within a monthly budget and help them approach their dental care the same way. With a proactive approach, the annual maximum will influence treatment acceptance decisions less. STRATEGY: Design payment options that fit into monthly budgets and enhance cash flow. Most patients report they’ve never been offered a healthcare payment plan, but 42% OF THEM would like one. Regular payments flow from one year to the next and soften the impact of limited dental benefits.

4. Educate Patients With Timely Campaigns

Dentistry involves a language of its own, and we often forget that patients don’t understand the technicality of procedures or jargon from insurance companies. Confusion leads to frustration, and that may lead to misunderstandings that reflect on our brand. We’re responsible for guiding our patients to the care they deserve. Over 70% OF PATIENTS say they’re frustrated by their healthcare experiences, and we can change that perception in dentistry. STRATEGY: Eliminate the confusion that causes patients to delay their treatment by providing information on all aspects of care. Help patients explore their goals and provide timely information regarding their options and benefits by using tools like LEGWORK SALES FUNNELS . As patients prioritize dental care and understand how it fits into their budget, they’re less likely to postpone their next step.

5. Bring Patients Back To Missed Treatment

Treatment plans often slide into the background for both patients and dental practices. You may be surprised to discover hundreds of thousands of dollars of unfinished care sitting in your charts. One practice found nearly a million dollars when they completed an audit of their records. Activating a small percentage of these patients can fill hours on your schedule and help patients maximize their insurance plans. STRATEGY: Don’t wait until late fall to complete an audit of unfinished treatment. LEGWORK TREATMENT OPPORTUNITIES makes it easy to generate reports and nurture patients towards care during each season. With carefully designed templates, refresh your patients’ memories and encourage them to schedule an appointment before the year slips away. Consistent follow-up, including letters that specifically remind patients they may have unused benefits, helps patients maximize their plans and avoid crisis care.

Unused Health Benefits Include Quality Dental Care

Patients often confuse medical and dental benefits, and they rely on us to fit treatment goals into their budgets. We know that there are significant differences between unused health benefits across the professions, but most patients don’t understand what that means. ONE IN 4 U.S. EMPLOYEES who have dental insurance report they haven’t been to the dentist in the past year for a check-up. And 65% would like their employees to help them learn more about their plans. That conversation isn’t likely to happen, so we need to step into the void. We enjoy the opportunity to help our patients utilize something they don’t understand well, and that’s a win for everyone. When we pair automated tools with a desire to help our patients utilize their benefits, we gain patient loyalty and a better reputation in our community. Automated phone calls and reminders, electronic reminders with custom messaging, and unscheduled treatment tools help bring more patients through the door. Legwork offers endless possibilities that many of us haven’t considered. Lower barriers with integrated telehealth options and online booking tools to keep patients moving forward with care. Need help in communicating with your patients about their benefits? Request a demo to see how Legwork can help.

* * Legwork customers, contact Customer Support if you need help setting this up in your automations.