In This Economy, Even Dental Insurance Patients Look Good

A recent study commissioned by Delta Dental finds that 60% of American consumers have dental insurance. The same study shows that 29% pay for their dental care out-of-pocket.

But what about the remaining 11%? Well, it appears that one in nine adults think they can sidestep the issue by never going to the dentist.

Caught in a financial tug-of-war, dentists have a love/hate relationship with dental insurance companies. Insurance providers regularly raise patients’ monthly premiums, but rarely (if ever) raise the actual patient benefit and only increase claims to your through after a prolonged struggle. And of course, a benefit of a thousand dollars a year bought a lot more dental care back in 1960 than it does today.

Some practices have given up on the insurance game completely; a recent Wealthy Dentist survey showed that 11% of dentists no longer accept dental insurance of any kind. However, most practices still depend on insurance companies as a source of new patients.

Take It or Leave It

We could complain about it all day long, but it’s not going to do much good. Dentists have two basic choices when it comes to dental insurance: take it or leave it. Dropping insurances is satisfying for many doctors, but it’s a difficult transition that’s not feasible for all practices — particularly not in today’s economic climate!

If your practice accepts insurance, it’s important to make sure you’re getting as much out of the deal as you can. Remember, two-thirds of the people getting dental care have dental insurance! That’s a huge pool of potential new dental patients.

The Delta survey also shows that 82% of people with dental insurance are covered under an employer’s plan. In addition, fully 88% of those employers pay all or part of their employees’ monthly premiums. So three out of four people with insurance aren’t even paying for all of it.

Get Your Share

But how many of these consumers are actually using all their dental benefits? While the Delta survey doesn’t mention any numbers, you can be certain that lots of consumers are letting their dental benefits go to waste.

So who’s going to remind these patients that they’re eligible for all sorts of free or subsidized dental care? Well, it probably won’t be their dental insurance companies!

That’s where your dental practice comes in. How many insurance patients does your practice have? How many of them haven’t been in lately? Now that it’s January, how many of them now have access to a year’s worth of benefits? How much money could you make if these patients came in for care?

Bringing insurance patients in is as simple as reminding them that they’re covered. But if you don’t remind them, they can easily fall by the wayside. And in today’s economy, can you afford to lose such a reliable stream of patients?

Next week we’ll discuss exactly how you can remind these patients of their dental benefits and inspire them to make an appointment.

Read Delta’s survey results

Only Half of Dentists Still Accepting Dental Insurance

Dentists Dropping Dental Insurances

Dentists are sick and tired of dental insurance companies dictating fees and treatments. Just over half of the dentists in this survey said that they had mostly or completely stopped accepting dental insurances.Dental Survey Results

“We still work with hundreds of insurance companies by filing the paperwork, etc,” said an Ohio dentist. “But by not being ‘in-network’ on any plan, we get paid for what we do.”

Dropping insurance can raise a dental practice’s bottom line, but it can also cost them patients. One-third of respondents felt that dropping insurances was not a financially realistic option for them.

Here are some more thoughts from dentists:

  • “Insurance has ruined medicine.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “I have a brand new office and a lot of debt. Being a preferred provider for insurance companies is not ideal long-term, but it is necessary now to get people in the door.” (Indiana dentist)
  • “If I dropped insurance, I’d be cutting ties to 85% of my patient base!” (Endodontist)
  • “Those who can’t be bothered with insurance are self-serving people who have lost sight of the service part of being a professional.” (California dentist)
  • “If all dentists dropped all insurances, then ALL dentists could collect their fees in full from everyone.” (Virginia dentist)
  • “Dental insurance is a joke.” (Alaska dentist)
  • “Some of the contracted insurance patients are the most demanding and unappreciative.” (Minnesota dentist)
  • “We have no contract with any insurance companies. It is a great benefit to have control of our fee structure.” (General dentist)
  • “I have dropped all insurance plans, and patients pay us first. However, we will fill out paperwork and fight for the patient to get the benefits they are owed.” (Washington dentist)
  • “Free At Last!!” (Minnesota dentist)
Post your own thoughts on dental insurance, or check out the full survey results to read stories of dentists who have successfully dropped insurances.

Dentists Detest Dental Insurance

Clear Majority of Dentists Are Eager to Organize Against Insurance Companies

Dental Survey ResultsWhen a recent Wealthy Dentist survey asked dentists if they would like to see their colleagues organize against dental insurance companies, the answer was a resounding “Yes!” from fully 94% of respondents.

Dentists’ primary complaint is that insurance payouts have not kept up with inflation. “When I entered private practice in 1970, Chevron was the first to offer dental benefits, with a maximum payout of $1000. Now twenty-eight years later, the norm for maximum payouts is still $1000. The premiums for dental coverage have continued to go up, but not the maximum benefit payout,” said a Mississippi dentist. “There is something badly wrong with this discrepancy.”

Here are some more dentist comments:

  • “$1000 has been the maximum for 20 years. That’s not right.” (General dentist)
  • “In my 40 years as hygienist and dentist, I have seen the annual allowance stay the same ($1000-1200) with no increase in benefits and more paperwork and restrictions—totally absurd!” (Indiana dentist)
  • “If we all (dentists) combined our veto power, insurance companies would have to respond by raising the annual benefit. The customary benefit of $1,000 is laughable. That worked in 1960, but not in 2008.” (Massachusetts dentist)
  • “It’s a benefit, not insurance. If dental insurance had to be true insurance, it would skyrocket the price or devastate our fees.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “Best to leave the organizing to the ADA.” (Washington endodontist)
  • “Dental insurance is a myth. It is more like a ‘gift card’ with many exclusions.” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “We need to educate our patients that Dental and Medical Insurances are totally different animals. Patients have become so accustomed to the Medical Insurance model that they expect low co-pays and no out-of-pocket expenses.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “If patients really analyze the costs of dental insurance, they would see that in most cases it is better to self-insure.” (Texas dentist)
  • I would have chosen another profession had I known the dental insurances were going to dictate so much of my profession.” (California dentist)
  • “Insurance companies have actually called my patients telling them to go elsewhere!” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “Most companies mislead patients and make the dentist look like the villain!” (New Jersey dentist)
  • “It’s a nightmare that profits only insurance CEOs.” (New York dentist)

Post your own comments or read the complete dental insurance survey results

Dental Marketing in the New Year: It’s Time to Get to Work!

Remind Insurance Patients That Their Benefits Have Been Renewed

When I asked dentists about their New Year’s resolutions for their dental practices, I learned that attracting more new patients was the #1 resolution. Well, January is traditionally one of the best months to acquire new dental patients for your practice! Three completely different types of patients are all coming into the market at the same time.

  1. People who have put off their dental treatment plans until after the November-December holidays.
  2. New Year’s resolution patients who have decided to clean up their dental act as part of their new physical fitness program.
  3. Patients who have put off their dental treatment until their dental insurance benefits are renewed in the new year.

Group number one, the procrastinators, are already in your practice. All you need to do to get them in the door is to follow through on your normal Chart Audit of patients with uncompleted treatment plans. This means a call from your dental scheduling coordinator to remind these patients that the new year is the right time to complete their treatment.

Patients from group number two are generally not in your practice. These people will be out looking for cosmetic, implant, sedation and orthodontic dentists in droves! Most of these people will look online to find a local dentist who can meet their particular dental needs.

If you don’t already have a comprehensive Internet marketing plan (multiple dental directory listings, email newsletter program, team training on how to convert Internet patients and multiple targeted high-value new patient websites), there’s no time like the new year! Just call us at 888-476-4886 or schedule an appointment online.

Group three, those patients who have been putting off treatment until their dental insurance benefits are renewed, can be quickly converted into active treatment plans with a simple letter that should be sent to ALL your insurance patients. Here is a sample letter:

Re: Dental Insurance Benefits in the New Year

Dear Mrs. Crawford:

I would like to take a moment to discuss your dental insurance benefits.

Almost all insurance companies renew your dental benefits with the New Year. That means that you can take advantage of possibly $1,000 or more of benefits for yourself and your family.

So if you’ve been postponing dental treatment, now is the time!

Many insurance patients neglect to take full advantage of their insurance benefits. These benefits, often part of an employer’s insurance program, are typically lost if not used. What are you waiting for? Call today to ensure your best dental health – particularly if you’re due for your regular check-up and cleaning!

As always, please do not hesitate to call our office at (555)555-5555 or email us at should you need anything at all.


Dr. Fullname

P.S. If you have friends or family who you feel would benefit from our preventive approach to healthy gums and teeth, please send them our way. We’ll take good care of them! Be sure they mention your name so that we can thank you personally with a token of our appreciation.

To send this newsletter to your entire patient base, or for more details on “Smile Cards,” and access to 74 other pre-written patient communications letters that can kick-start your dental marketing in the new year, click here now!

We all know how many insurance patients wait until the end of the year to use their benefits. All it takes is a simple reminder from you to bring them in earlier!


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