Membership Plans: Now is the Time!
Trying to decide whether to offer a membership plan? Our office has been using an in-house membership plan for about ten years. They are becoming increasingly popular with patients. We manage the program ourselves, but some companies will do that for you. There are advantages to both options, but we found it easy enough to do it ourselves.
The biggest advantage is to our patients, such as those without insurance, self-employed, elderly, people with high premium costs on employer-sponsored plans, or even employees working for businesses that do not offer dental insurance. With our “plan structure,” patients save roughly 25% by signing up. It is structured to provide choices for adults, children (13 & younger), and periodontal patients. Not only do they receive a discount on hygiene services, but the plan also includes a fee reduction on dental treatment.
One of the big advantages of an in-house plan is that there are no waiting periods, maximums, or deductibles. This is a huge selling point for patients with large treatment plans. Patients with traditional dental insurance will usually use the whole amount right away and then wait to schedule the remaining care later. With a membership plan, they will always receive a discount.
Also, be sure to clarify to your patients that your membership program is not dental insurance. It’s like a cash discount. If you choose to design your own plan—the first step is to decide how to structure it, such as offering single membership plans, family plans, or a more a la carte style. We have restructured ours over the years to fit what we thought was best for the needs of our patients. From single adult plans to adding additional family members and periodontal patients.
How much will your plan cost? When choosing how much the “membership” fee will be, look at the costs of paying out of pocket for cleanings, exams, X-rays, and fluoride treatment costs for the average person twice a year. This information will help decide what to charge to make it a savings to the patient but still profitable to the practice. Then, decide what kind of discount you would like to offer; I have seen practices offering anywhere from 10-25% off dental treatment with their membership plans.
Membership plans are completely customizable, making it easy to fit what patients need and want. When looking at our non-insured patient base, the majority of them are on the membership plan. This also helps these patients keep their oral health at its best by scheduling every six months (or more often, based on their periodontal condition) because they do not have to pay as much out of pocket.
When patients begin comparing the membership cost with the costs of dental insurance premiums, they are surprised that most of the time, the membership plan costs less. In the days of inflation and rising food costs, everyone wants to save money!
If you do not already have a membership plan for your patients, now is the time to look into it, regardless of whether you want to manage one on your own or partner with a company that offers the service.
About the Author
Kristina Bekkum, MAADOM, is the business manager for Valley Dental in Onalaska, WI. Having begun her career in dentistry as a dental assistant, she has spent the last ten years in administration. Kristina is a lifetime AADOM member, earning her fellowship designation (FAADOM) in 2020 and her master’s distinction in 2023. When not in the office, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.