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Score 3 Key Wins With Patient Membership Plans

By Planet DDS
May 27, 2021

By Dr. Greg Grillo

Running a successful practice has always required quick reactions to broader market forces. But COVID-19 changed job-related dental benefits that many people took for granted, and new expectations emerged. Jobless claims skyrocketed to 38 million in May 2020, four times the number filed during the 2008 crisis. Salaries and security went out the window for many people, and benefit packages did, too. While jobs and benefits will claw their way back, only 50% of patients may enjoy dental coverage in the future.

Opportunity always lies within our challenges. If we focus on the struggle, we’ll see that uninsured patients generally accept half the treatment of insured patients, and they’re much more likely to avoid regular care. But many of them want better access to care, more predictable healthcare costs, and less reliance on confusing insurance plans.

Better access to care means that we help people enjoy healthier, fuller lives. The data shows that people without dental benefits are more likely to lose teeth and acquire dentures, and they’re less likely to undergo restorative care or treat periodontitis. Worse, those without dental benefits suffer from other diseases. Coincidence? Probably not. Researchers found that when adult Medicaid recipients received preventive dental care, healthcare costs for seven chronic health conditions were lower by up to 67% .

In a complicated healthcare world, we need to give patients increased access to care without compromising our profits. Insurance tantalizes patients with affordable care, but most plans leave more disillusionment than solutions. We need more options.

The Insurance Conundrum

You and I know that dental insurers create barriers to quality care that impact patients and practice health. It’s difficult to compute the combined costs of write-offs, denied claims, staff follow-up, paperwork, delayed payments, and more. Patients face costly premiums, co-pays, and annual maximums that haven’t increased for at least 30 years. And when patients pay for individual plans, they’re fortunate to break even over a calendar year.

Many of us continue to feel the frustration of dental insurance in our practices. With new PPE costs and reduced patient volume, there’s little evidence we’ll increase productivity without first defining new paradigms. Our evolution requires a mix of tools that solve problems for patients in proactive ways. By doing so, we’ll maintain viable practices that can continue to invest in technology, training, and teams that provide exceptional care.

The Solution: Membership Plans

Some ideas don’t fit our historical paradigms, but paradigms continue to shatter at breakneck speed. Subscription-based services used to belong just to print magazines and newspapers. Now, there’s a membership for everything from shaving cream to organic meat. Not long ago, we rented movies and bought the latest Coldplay album as single products. Now, we pay $15/month and stream unlimited volumes of media. Subscriptions fit our budget and lifestyles, and they continue to evolve into every corner of the market.

Membership plans present a new opportunity for our practices to give patients what they want. If you’re like me, you’ve never given them much thought. But we’re in a different world with shifting expectations. These plans offer a win-win outcome, especially when combined with online payment portals and teledentistry components. Membership plans wrestle control away from insurance companies and give patients a predictable model for their budgets.

Patients pay us a monthly or annual fee to access preventive services and discounts on other procedures. We set it up to fit our practice. A customized membership plan delivers three wins that serve us and our patients:

Predictable Cash Flow, Predictable Budgeting

Our practice knows how much baseline, recurring revenue to expect through our membership plan. Patients know what to plug into their monthly budget; everyone’s happy when they see what’s going out and what’s coming in.

Fewer Restrictions, Fewer Frustrations

We often get caught between insurance companies and patients when exemption clauses and contract exclusions come back in a policy’s fine print. Membership plans give patients precise costs at discounted rates; transparency increases satisfaction, acceptance, and profits.

Better Efficiency, Better Service

If you’ve analyzed the number of staff hours spent chasing denied claims or benefit explanations, you know these costly efforts may undermine profits and relationships. Staff time spent engaging patients leads to better reviews and more referrals; membership plans reduce multiple costs and provide next-level service.

Elevate the Experience for Patients


  • When you manage a Netflix subscription, you probably jump online and update your account on your phone. Patient portals deliver the same level of service, and that makes everyone happy.

Consumers are revamping priorities and lifestyles in 2021 like no other time in modern history. Price-sensitive Millennials appreciate the transparency of membership plans, and Baby Boomers facing retirement crave predictable healthcare costs. Gen Xers look for reasons to cement their loyalty with brands, and every demographic appreciates tools that help them efficiently manage their lifestyles.

Offering dental membership plans can help you both attract and retain patients. Combined with tools like Treatment Opportunities , you can identify patients who have unscheduled treatment plans and offer them the kind of membership benefits that will enable them to schedule the care they need! Tune into a webinar with Legwork Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Korey Korfiatis, and Megan Lohman, Co-Founder & CEO of Plan Forward , to get the scoop on how to implement membership plans at your practice.