Today a 20 year-old came in as a new patient (husband and 8 month old baby in tow). She found me via my website and also cited my “good reviews.” Her chief complaint was a broken down tooth with a bump on her gum. It was #9. She had already lost #10, because “a dentist just pulled it.” She was wearing a flipper.
She said, “I know you’ll just have to pull this one, too. It’s really bad.” Maybe not. let’s take a look.
The tooth had a rather large carious lesion on the distal. There was a draining sinus tract on the facial gingiva. The PA x-ray predictably revealed an apical abscess. But, it was restorable. And, I told her as much. Her treatment choices were:
- Extract and add to her flipper. “You’d be losing ANOTHER front tooth.”
- Root canal therapy and a large composite or crown. “You can keep your front tooth.”
“But, I don’t have insurance.”
Yep. She said it. And, we’ve all heard it soooo many times. For most of my 25 year career, I’ve pontificated about how patients don’t need dental insurance because it’s not really insurance. In a nutshell, it’s a sucker bet and it’s a crap product. I’ve done the actual math for patients to PROVE I was right. And, in all those years, I don’t think I changed one mind.
She’s a “sixty percenter.”
According to current figures, about 60% of Americans do not have a dental benefit plan (it’s NOT “insurance!”). Yet, the myth of “needing” so-called “insurance” is pervasive. If you ask people why they haven’t had PREVENTIVE dental care, they’ll say the same thing, “I don’t have insurance.” Aaaaaaaaaagh! Never mind that the cost of the provisions (read beer) they’ve acquired for this coming weekend’s Superbowl festivities is more than what it would cost them as a cash patient for two semi-annual recall visits. Maybe they have Superbowl party “insurance?”
I’m a stubborn one, and it took 25 years for me to figure this one out. No amount of intellectual judo (or even math) will convince EVEN A SMART PERSON that dental “insurance” is nearly worthless. Even clever metaphors like “tooth of the year club” and “a gift card from a control freak“ do nothing to change their minds. To their very cores, they believe they MUST have “insurance” to obtain dental care.
If you can’t beat’em, join’em.
No. I’m not talking about joining “plans.” I’ve never signed a contract with an HMO or PPO, and I never will. Why would I join a race to the bottom to get the 40% of patients on those silly plans? Why would I abdicate my professional autonomy to a faceless company whose name adorns the tallest building in the metropolis? Why would I willingly undermine the precious doctor-patient relationship by inviting those mother-******s into it? Again… to get that same 40% all the other “plan dentists” are clamoring to get?
Oops… sorry about that. Got a little philosophical, and I’ll surely piss off some of my brothers-in-arms. Here’s my point. I’m talking about the 60% that don’t have ANY kind of plan, yet they feel LEFT OUT. They believe they can’t come to the dental party without their “invitation” (a dental plan). I’d rather have something that appeals to THOSE patients. What can I do to get THEM in the door and ANXIOUS to get treatment? How can I leverage their strongly-held belief that they need a “plan” and lead them to treatment?
Give’em what they want, and cut out the middle man!
So, how can I address the objection, “But, I don’t have insurance?” without sounding like a bloviating elitist? The answer: “We have an in-house savings plan that’s BETTER than dental insurance. It’s called Quality Dental Plan.” And, then I go on to tell them there are no premiums, no waiting periods, no denials, no claims to file, no annual maximums, no exclusions, and nobody interfering with their decisions about what’s best for them. “Jo-Ann can fill you in on the details and get you started saving money right away.”
And, it’s all true. Quality Dental Plan is a MUCH better deal for patients than any “insurance” plan.
It’s a no-brainer!
So, my new patient, the new mother who was convinced she would have to have her FRONT TOOTH extracted said, “So, you can make it look like a regular tooth?” My assistant interjected, “Dr. Mike is awesome. It will look like you got your natural tooth back.”
Jo-Ann then sat down with my patient and her husband in the consultation room and presented Quality Dental Plan. We’ve had 100% sign-up once they get the details from Jo-Ann. She signed up, paid the annual membership fee, and made the appointment for the root canal. Booya!
But, that’s not all!
There’s much more to this concept of an in-house savings plan. I implemented Quality Dental Plan just a few months ago. So, it’s still early in the race. But, so far, so good. I plan to write up a more thorough review of the concept and system in the future.
This patient did come in for her root canal and final restoration (large composite). She is SO happy! If it wasn’t for QDP, I’m quite certain she would have either had the tooth extracted or gone somewhere else.