The COVID-19 crisis left millions of Americans jobless. Loss of jobs, salaries, and benefits have left individuals struggling financially and seeking budget-friendly dental care coverage solutions. Fortunately, you may be able to choose from affordable options like discount dental programs or a dental discount membership plan.
Dental practices look to serve their price-sensitive patients, but there is confusion about whether a dental membership plan or dental discount plan is the best solution. This guide clears up that confusion and breaks down the differences between membership and discount plans for dental.
What Is a Dental Membership Plan?
Dental membership plans offer subscription-style dental coverage that dentists can provide directly to uninsured patients. Routine preventative care, such as cleanings, exams, x-rays, and hygiene, is included with the plan, and as a member, the patients get access to discounts on other non-routine procedures, such as fillings.
How Do Dental Memberships Work?
Think of a dental membership plan like other subscription services you can join, like Netflix and Amazon Prime. Patients pay an annual or monthly fee to their dentist and receive preventative dental care and discounts for other types of treatment in return.
Dentists can design in-house dental membership plans based on their practice's and patients' unique needs. Dentists are 100% in control, setting the fee schedule, subscription price, and treatment protocol. Patients make payments directly to the dental practice, alleviating the burdens of third-party payment delays, paperwork, and claim denials.
What Are the Benefits of a Dental Membership Plan?
Dental membership plans can offer several advantages to dentists and patients alike. For dental offices, benefits include:
- Cash flow: You can immediately collect payment at the time of the dental service, so there isn't a claims process that delays payment to your practice.
- No administrative fee: Since you won't have a third-party administrator managing the plan, you won't have to pay a fee to them, which means more money for your practice.
- Increased patient loyalty: Because of dental membership plans, your patients are likely to grow more loyal to your dental practice.
For patients, they can access dental care at a budget-friendly rate.
- Receive benefits immediately after signing up
- Access to simple, personalized, and affordable care
- Avoid the hassles and costs of insurance, including no deductibles, claim denials, waiting periods, or paperwork
At Kleer, our Success team’s entire role is to make sure your membership plan is successful — they help monitor the performance of your plan and provide tips, tricks, and resources to help drive growth.
What Is a Dental Discount Plan?
Dental discount plans are another option for dentists. A dental discount plan, also known as a dental savings plan, is designed for individuals, families, and groups who want to save money on dental care. Dental discount plans are an affordable alternative to traditional dental insurance. Dentists who participate in dental discount plans agree to accept discounted fees from plan members.
How Do Dental Discount Plans Work?
Think of dental discount plans as a buyer's club. When patients join the club, they receive member-only discounts. A dental office's in-house discount plan is managed by a third-party administrator who provides patients with access to a network of dentists.
Patients join a dental discount plan that is right for them and can print their membership card after their plan is activated, which typically takes just a few days. At this point, patients can search for a participating dentist in their area and schedule an appointment. When contacting a participating provider, a patient should mention the name of their dental discount plan as shown on their membership card.
Plan members show their membership cards when they visit a participating plan provider and can receive most dental services at a discounted fee, paid directly to the dentist. Payment is due after the dental services are performed. Patients can get reduced rates on the following:
- Preventive care: Preventive care includes treatments that keep your gums and teeth healthy like regular checkups, basic x-rays, and cleanings.
- Specialists: Patients may also be able to get reduced rates when they visit specialists, such as an orthodontist, an endodontist, or a prosthodontist for the treatment of complex dental diseases and issues. Orthodontists can provide patients with braces, endodontists can provide root canals, and prosthodontists can provide dental implants, dentures, and braces.
- Restorative care: Restorative care includes treatment for dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease, and treatment to restore missing or damaged teeth.
- Cosmetic treatments: Cosmetic treatments are services that enhance a smile with procedures like overlays and tooth whitening.
What Are the Benefits of a Dental Discount Plan?
Dental discount plans are flexible and affordable and can offer patients the following benefits:
- Savings: The biggest advantage to patients is that they can save money by participating in a dental discount plan by paying reduced rates. As soon as their plan is activated, patients can get discounts on a variety of dental treatments. Patients also won't have to worry about paying deductibles or co-pays.
- Flexibility: Even when patients have dental work that's in progress or dental health problems, they can still save with a dental discount plan.
- Available when needed: Patients can say goodbye to worrying about how they'll pay for unexpected dental emergencies. There is no maximum yearly spending limit, so members can enjoy discounts on dental care year-round.
- Simple to join and use: There aren't any background checks, approvals, insurance authorizations, or paperwork required to join a dental discount plan. Everyone is accepted, as there are no health restrictions, so joining and using this plan is easy and accessible.
- Additional discounts: Many dental discount plans include the possibility to save on prescriptions and other health care services like vision and hearing care.
Unfortunately, dental discount plans are not as beneficial to practices and patients as dental membership plans.
Dental Membership Plans vs. Dental Discount Plans
There is a misconception that dental membership plans are the same as dental discount plans. However, there are significant differences between the two that set them apart, both in terms of how they work for dental practices and patients and laws and regulations.
|Dental Membership Plan||Dental Discount Plan|
|Fees||Dentists can use a fee schedule unique to their practice and decide their own discounts.||Patients pay third-party administrators a yearly fee to access discounts from a network of dentists. These plans are often hard to understand and have waiting periods and maximums.|
|Management||Dental practices design their own membership plan, set pricing, and control the fee schedule. There is also no third party managing a membership plan, setting pricing, or controlling the fee schedule.||A third-party administrator manages a dental discount plan.|
|Network||Do not include a dentist network. Instead, each dentist creates their own membership plan and offers it directly to patients of their practice.||A third-party administrator provides patients with a public network of dentists who offer the plan.|
|Payment||Dental practice receives payments directly from patients.||A third party collects and keeps payments from patients, leaving less for dental practices.|
|Pricing||Set by dentists and based on practice dynamics and patient demographics.||A third-party administrator also controls the pricing for dental discount plans.|
|Treatment||Dental practices design the treatment plan based on their practice and their patients' needs.||A third-party administrator will offer generic treatment plans without input from dentists.|
|Compliance||Need to comply with federal and state regulations, state dentistry laws, and anti-kickback laws. However, dental membership plans don't need to be licensed under the Discount Medical Plan laws, as there is no third-party administrator.||Must also comply with federal and state regulations, state dentistry laws, and anti-kickback laws, and need to be licensed by the state under the Discount Medical Plan laws.|
While discount dental plans can offer some benefits to patients and providers, they can't compete with dental membership plans.
Legal and Compliance Requirements for Dental Membership Plans
Dental membership plans need to be compliant with various state and federal regulations, including:
- Federal anti-kickback laws
- Federal physician self-referral laws
- Federal consumer protection laws
- FTC laws
- State healthcare and dentistry laws
Meeting these regulations requires the implementation of a variety of features including disclosures, consents, data security infrastructure, support processes, and secure payment management. At Kleer, we take regulatory compliance very seriously and have spent considerable time, money, and effort to make Kleer compliant.
What Is the Best Solution?
Dental membership plans are a better solution than dental discount plans for both dentists and their patients. With dental membership plans, dentists take back control from third-party administrators and offer care directly to their patients. Dentists control everything involved, including pricing, office fees, and treatment. As a result, patients avoid third-party hassles and access the care they want directly from their dentist in a budget-friendly way.
With our dental membership plan from Kleer, you can build a custom care plan, manage your plan, grow your plan and practice and maintain federal and state regulatory compliance.
1. Build a Custom Care Plan
At Kleer, we offer a turnkey cloud-based platform that includes everything your dental practice requires to design, launch, and manage a successful dental membership plan. Our platform is free to implement and it's easy and fast to launch. Dental practices can create and launch a membership plan in just days with the assistance and guidance of our Kleer Success Team. Our process features a design consultation and team training, and launch materials will be shipped right to your office's door.
When you can build a custom care plan, you can ensure each membership plan works for both you and your patients. Your practice can offer multiple care plans that are customized to fit your patient demographics and ensure that your plan pricing is as profitable — and competitive — as possible with our Kleer SmartPricing™ tool.
2. Manage Your Plan
We provide a user-friendly platform that allows you to easily manage your dental membership plan with patient self-service tools, automated renewals, fast electronic payment processing, and intuitive plan management tools.
Our solution also doesn’t stop at technology. At Kleer, we offer a full suite of support and marketing tools, and we'll help your practice optimize your dental membership plan and increase your enrollment by helping you implement best practices and analyzing plan performance.
With Kleer, you can easily manage your plan in real-time. Enjoy the following benefits available with membership plan management:
- Measure membership plan performance with a simple, user-friendly dashboard
- Track recurring revenue and deposits to your bank account
- Monitor member enrollment, activity, and payments
- Automate the member renewal process
- Improve administrative efficiency with patient self-service tools
3. Grow Your Plan and Practice
Kleer will get your practice results. Data from practices that use our solution show that Kleer membership plan patients complete two to three times more hygiene visits, accept two times more treatment, and generate two times more revenue than uncovered patients. With our free, customizable marketing tools, support and resources, you can:
- Invite and enroll your patients easily and quickly
- Learn how to maximize your membership plan results with our training tools
- Promote your dental membership plan to active, dormant, and new patients with a thorough marketing toolkit
4. Maintain Federal and State Regulatory Compliance
You won't need to worry about maintaining federal and state regulatory compliance when you choose the dental membership plan platform from Kleer.
- Create a membership plan that is compliant with HIPAA and DMPO
- Make sure your practice is compliant with data security, privacy, and payment processing laws, such as PCI
- Get answers to — and help with — compliance questions from our Success team
At Kleer, we're determined to offer your dental practice the best solution on the market.
Request a Software Demo
Insurers currently control every aspect of the dental care market — access, treatment, pricing, and payment. They’ve created costly and overly complicated dental plans that work only for the insurance companies, not for patients or dentists. Implementing a dental membership plan at your practice can be your first step in establishing freedom from insurers and enabling your patients to access the care they need.
At Kleer, you can transform your dental practice with our industry-leading membership plan platform. Powering your in-house membership plan with Kleer’s software makes building, managing, and growing your plan easy. We can help provide a channel for independent and group practices so you can cut ties with your lowest-paying and most underperforming PPOs.
Our Kleer Success team can offer the support your practice needs. We are a partner in growth rather than just another piece of software, and we can help you offer dental care, liberated.™ Request a software demo from us at Kleer today.