Now is the perfect time to help your patients take full advantage of their end-of-year dental benefits. With many insurance plans having a “use it or lose it” policy, you can help your patients by reminding them of expiring benefits as we approach the end of the year. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of people maximize their annual dental insurance plans each year.
“According to the National Association of Dental Plans, only 2.8% of people with PPO dental plan participants reached or exceeded their plans annual maximum. Many people also have Flexible Spending Accounts, which help pay for dental and medical care with pre-tax dollars.”
Maybe it’s the collective busyness of the holiday season. Or perhaps many are merely uninformed. Either way, it’s good for the patient experience to be their advocate so they can take full advantage of their dental benefits before they run out.
Why It’s Important to Inform Patients About Dental Benefits
Keeping patients informed not only benefits them by ensuring benefits don’t go unused, but it also provides an opportunity for patients to improve their oral health.
- Your patients win by applying unused benefits for preventive treatment or to lower out-of-pocket costs on higher fee procedures they’ve been delaying.
- Your patients also receive the benefit of better oral and overall health by completing any needed treatment or procedure.
- Your practice also benefits by tapping into allowable reimbursements that increase production and profitability before the end of the calendar year.
As you close out the fourth quarter, put these best practices in place for your patients and your practice.
Educate Patients About Their Dental Benefits
Your patients will appreciate being educated on their dental benefits. Dental insurance plans and the available benefits can be difficult for some patients to navigate. By keeping your patients informed, you help them say “yes” to the treatment they need at the right time. With a better understanding of what could happen at the end of each calendar year, patients will be empowered to take advantage of any expiring benefits. Here’s a few tips on what to keep in mind when it comes to dental insurance benefits:
Determine the type of plan each patient carries
Some patients may have Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs). Some insurance plans are offered through a patient’s employer. And some may have individual plans through the Health Insurance Marketplace put in place by the Affordable Care Act.
Confirm their plan’s benefit expiration date
Many insurance companies follow the annual December 31st usage deadline – with no roll-over into the new year. But some plans might have other calendar deadlines for benefit expiration.
Make patients aware of exceptions
There could be options that work to your patient’s advantage. For example, some companies allow a two-month grace period for unused FSA funds. Or an allowance of $500 can be extended into the next year.
How to Send Relevant, Timely, and Tailored Communications About End-of-Year Benefits
Put a process in place to start sending out benefit reminders early enough so that patients have time to schedule appointments before the end of the year. Then, use your dental practice management solution to identify patients with unscheduled or overdue treatment. Compare that list with those patients who have remaining benefits.
Now you know the exact group of patients for whom this communication will be highly relevant and helpful.
Once you’ve segmented your patient data, send a series of communications to help patients:
- Take advantage of their unused dental benefits
- Schedule their appointment
Timely communication is also important. Remember that the end-of-year period is busy with holidays and travel:
- Start the benefits usage conversation early
- Specify the treatment opportunities they have on record and help them prioritize any remaining treatment
- Stimulate their interest by giving them the option (if possible) of phasing their treatment using their benefits
Communication using the preferred channel is also essential. Know your patient’s preferred channel:
- Text messaging
- Email communications
- A phone call
Personalize Your End-of-Year Benefits Conversations
Personalized communication helps your patients feel more compelled to respond. This is important as you’re focused on reminding them to use their (personal) dental benefits.
- Give personal attention to their specific insurance coverage and approaching benefits expiration (e.g. their FSA account, individual dental insurance plan, or an employee provided plan).
- Connect their available benefits to their specific treatment plan.
- Determine an incentive that might have appeal to each patient (e.g. a time-sensitive savings percentage, an out-of-pocket savings discount, etc.).
- Include a P.S. (on an email or mailed letter) or a follow-up communication that highlights a fee reduction for a teeth cleaning, teeth whitening procedure, etc.
Your patient’s end-of-year dental benefits are a strong incentive to schedule treatment. Realizing their specific benefits have a shelf-life could be the motivation they need to take advantage of expiring benefits.
Using well-segmented patient lists help you craft more effective and tailored communication.
Consider a Cloud-Based Solution to Improve Your Data Management and Patient Communications
Going forward, you may find it easier to target the right patients who would benefit from an end-of-the-year reminder by using an all-in-one practice management solution like Denticon. With Denticon, you can segment patient lists based on outstanding recallable procedures and remaining dental benefits. You can even manage your patient communications within Denticon.
Schedule a demo today to find out how Denticon can help your practice encourage more patients to take advantage of end-of-year dental benefits.