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The LaMaster Law Firm Blog

Friday, December 28, 2018

Why Subscription-Based Dentistry is Gaining Traction

According to the National Association of Dental Plans, about 75 percent of Americans have some type of dental insurance, whether employer-based or private-pay dental coverage. Of those, only 50 percent say they have visited a dentist in the past year, while only 20 percent of the uninsured group reported seeing a dentist. This means that 80 million people are not receiving preventive dental care, with cost being the leading reason for avoiding the dentist.

One innovative solution to attract individuals without coverage, and reduce dentistry’s dependence on insurance, is subscription-based dentistry. While such programs are legal, you should consult with an attorney who provides legal services for dental professionals to determine if this option works for your practice as well as to protect your interests. Meanwhile, this article is a brief overview of subscription-based dental programs.

The Limits of Dental Insurance

Dentists and patients alike have expressed increasing frustration with dental insurance. For dental practitioners, one problem is that insurance companies keep reimbursement rates low and make payments more difficult. This ultimately forces dentists to pass those unreimbursed costs off to patients. For patients, many insurance plans prohibit their subscribers from visiting out-of-network providers. This only stifles competition and limits patients’ choices.

For those who do not have employer-based coverage, particularly self employed individuals and older Americans, purchasing a private-pay insurance plan may be an option. Nonetheless, the costs of insurance premiums and copays are usually higher than the cost of care in a given year.

Given the limitations of employer-based and private-pay dental insurance, more and more dentists are offering subscription-based plans to capture a wide pool of patients.

The Benefits of Subscription-Based Dentistry

Subscription-based dentistry involves creating a bundled plan of preventive care and offering to patients at an affordable price point. The service under such plans generally includes prophylaxes, evaluations, and X-rays, as well as discounts on treatment. Memberships have  typically been offered on an annual basis because they are easier to administer.

Currently, however, monthly membership programs have made gains because of the advent of automated subscription platforms. This is beneficial for those who divide their spending into monthly budgets because they offer monthly payment options much like dental insurance -- but without the middleman. Since the arrangement is between the practice and the consumer, the fees go directly to the dentist, which makes it more profitable.

The Takeaway

In short, subscription-based dentistry can reduce the cost barriers for those without dental coverage, which, in turn, can boost patient acquisition -- and a membership model will also enhance patient retention. At the same time, it takes a skilled attorney to help assess the legal and business risks involved in offering subscription-based dental programs.  When you become a client of LaMaster Law, you can grow your practice with confidence.




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