Although about 50% of American adults with private health insurance also have dental insurance, 22% of those people don’t follow through with an annual visit. Dental insurance plans vary widely and many patients get confused by the various options. Although some question why dental insurance is so bad for their wallet, they wonder how they will afford dental care without it.
Luckily, dentists can explain insurance plans and let patients know they can still receive dental care without insurance. Other options, like dental membership plans, can give your clients additional opportunities to afford your services. Clearing these misconceptions and offering other budgeting choices gives more patients access to dental care.
How Dental Insurance Works
The two most common ways for patients to get dental insurance are through the workplace or private companies. While every plan is different, there are similarities across the system.
Dental plans typically have four payment types:
- Premiums: This monthly payment keeps a patient’s insurance plan active.
- Deductibles: The deductible is the amount a patient pays out of pocket before your coverage kicks in.
- Copays: Even when a client’s insurance covers a procedure or treatment, they may have to pay a copay each time they go to the dentist. This fixed amount often doesn’t count toward their deductible.
- Annual maximum fees: Unlike medical insurance, many dental plans only cover up to a certain amount. Once a patient reaches the annual maximum, they have to cover the rest until their plan resets.
Patients must pay their monthly premium whether they visit the dentist once a week or once a year. If they need extensive dental care, a client must meet the deductible before the plan helps with the cost.
The different fees and payment types can be overwhelming, and many patients develop misunderstandings.
5 Misconceptions Patients Have About Dental Insurance
Here are five misinterpretations patients often have about dental insurance.
1. Patients Need Dental Insurance to Go to the Dentist
Many patients think they can’t access dental care if they don’t have an active insurance plan. They may believe that a dentist won’t accept them as a patient or that they won’t be able to afford their visits without insurance. In turn, they skip necessary cleanings and other important procedures.
However, the truth is that dental insurance isn’t a requirement for dental care. Many practices offer other payment options for patients who can’t afford insurance, such as monthly payments or membership plans.
As a dentist, you can encourage your practice to dispute this myth. Ensure that your staff outlines all available payment options when a new patient shows interest in your services. You can also create signs or posts on your website that outline the possibilities. Providing clear messaging about other ways for patients to pay might increase interest in your practice.
2. Patients Will Use Insurance Often
Another misconception is that patients will use their dental insurance monthly or even more frequently. They might think a dental insurance plan is necessary because they’ll need it every month.
The reality is that many dental insurance plans charge high monthly rates regardless of how often patients visit the dentist. Good oral hygiene — brushing, flossing, and checking your gums at home — can prevent patients from needing extra dental care. If your clients only go to the dentist for cleanings twice a year, they might pay more for insurance than the out-of-pocket cost of visits.
Insurance plans are most helpful when patients need regular dental work done throughout the year. However, many people end up paying for a complete plan they hardly use.
To help alleviate this misconception, emphasize to your patients that an insurance plan isn’t entirely necessary and could actually cost more money than it’s worth.
3. Dental Insurance Covers Everything
Many patients also believe that dental insurance will cover every type of dental service. However, dental insurance doesn’t cover everything a patient needs, especially in emergencies. While insurance might cover regular cleanings, other procedures — root canals, fillings, crowns, and more — may not fall under plans. A dental plan also may not cover orthodontic or periodontic care, which can be critical for jaw and bone health.
Finding a plan with sufficient coverage is most important for patients with serious dental needs. Even then, they may still spend more on insurance than they would pay out of pocket, even when they see the dentist frequently. In that case, they may start to suspect that they shouldn’t buy dental insurance at all.
You can help them decide by describing insurance’s sometimes limited coverage. Explain that not all procedures are covered under many insurance plans, even with the high monthly premium costs.
4. Insurance Will Cover Costs Immediately
A dental insurance waiting period is a pause on a plan where clients become responsible for the coverage. Some patients might be unaware of this factor or believe it doesn’t apply to their plan.
Most routine tasks such as cleanings, exams, consultations, and X-rays aren’t subject to waiting periods. However, basic services typically have a 3-6 month waiting period, while you may have to wait 6-12 months for services that the carrier considers major procedures.
Waiting periods benefit the insurance company by preventing patients from signing up for insurance before an extensive procedure and dropping coverage immediately after. Although some policies will waive the waiting period, patients often have to pay more in monthly premiums to cover the costs.
You can ask your patients before procedures if they are aware of typical waiting periods or remind them regularly about how these could affect your services. If they can’t manage a waiting period, you can remind them of your practice’s other payment options.
5. Dental Insurance Saves So Much Money
Finally, patients often believe that dental insurance saves them a great deal of money. They might think that ultimately, paying the monthly premiums outweighs the cost of procedures or surgeries.
But dental insurance often doesn’t save as much money as patients might think. Along with paying premiums and copayments, they have to cover any costs until they reach their deductible.
Once a client reaches their deductible, they’re likely to reach the annual limit quickly. Most annual limits are between $1,000 and $1,500 — the average cost of a root canal alone can be between $600 and $1,400 before factoring in a crown, aftercare or medication.
Make sure you emphasize to patients that other payment options are available and might save them more money than a typical insurance plan. Many dentists offer a percentage discount on your total for patients paying out of pocket. Providing this option for your patients can help lower their bills to the cost of an insurance copay without paying any monthly premiums.
Consider Offering a Dental Membership Plan Instead
If you want to give your patients more payment options, consider implementing a dental membership plan at your practice. A dental membership plan is an in-house sponsored option for patients without traditional health insurance, letting them enjoy affordable dental care without paying out of pocket each time. With a dental membership, your clients only pay for what they need and prevent wasted funds.
With a dental plan from Kleer, you can offer plans for every budget and need. Patients and their families can access annual cleanings, X-rays, office visits, and more. Kleer dental membership plans include:
- Two annual routine cleanings — one every six months.
- X-rays, consultations, and exams.
- Fluoride treatments.
- Teeth whitening treatments.
- Discounted rates, which your provider determines.
You can contact us today to find a provider and see how to implement a membership plan in your practice.
Start a Dental Membership Plan for Your Practice Today
If you own or work in a dental practice, Kleer can streamline your in-office dental plan. Our simple platform makes it easy for dentists to sign patients up and track their memberships. You can offer simple, convenient plans for every patient and demographic, ensure profitable rates while offering discounts, and help everyone get access to the dental care they need.
We are a separate service that keeps your profits in-house and helps ensure quality care. Kleer offers:
- Personalized plans for each patient.
- A simple process without third-party interference.
- Discounts on certain dental procedures.
Ready to get started? Request a demo today!