On June 30, 2020, Kleer kicked off our Liberating Dental Care webinar series with a presentation on four reasons the COVID-19 crisis made dental membership plans a must-have. This webinar addressed how the cost of doing business has climbed due to requirements for PPE and infection control, while production has declined due to patient distancing and a drastic increase in the uninsured patient rate. Furthermore, these challenges have made the PPO high volume, low reimbursement model obsolete.

The webinar also outlined the opportunity forward-thinking dental professionals have to use the current climate as motivation to implement dental membership plans and provide patients with better access to care, improve practice cash flow and profitability, and eliminate the hassles and costs of insurance. 

This blog summarizes the presentation and outlines the four ways the COVID-19 crisis made dental membership plans a must-have. You can also watch an on-demand playback of the webinar to learn more.

1. 50% of patients do not have dental coverage 

As of June 2020, U.S. jobless claims due to the COVID-19 crisis hit a record 44 million. Losses of jobs, salaries and employer-sponsored dental benefits significantly reduced the number of insured dental patients. Prior to the crisis, one in three U.S. adults and two in three seniors lacked dental coverage. Because of COVID-related losses of jobs and employer-sponsored dental benefits, we estimate more than 50% of adult patients are uninsured.

Patients losing dental benefits will create a substantial risk to your practice’s production. Statistics show that uninsured patients visit the dentist three times less often and accept less than half the treatment of insured patients. The good news is that uninsured patients value oral health and want coverage. In fact, as part of market research Kleer conducted, 89% of uninsured patients surveyed said that they were interested in purchasing a dental plan if it is simple, affordable and transparent.

A dental membership plan will give patients exactly what they want. Payments are affordable, prices are transparent, coverage is easy to understand, and there are no hassles like deductibles, pre-approvals and annual maximums. Plus, patient benefits start the minute they join. 

More information about the uninsured patient mindset and preferences in dental benefits is included in our white paper “A New Reality: Dental Coverage and Patient Mindset in a Post-COVID World.”

2. Dental insurance is even MORE broken 

The dental care system has been broken for years. Insurers control everything including access, payment, pricing and treatment. They have created overly complicated plans that work for them but not for dentists or patients. The COVID crisis brought to light additional fractures in the insurer-controlled system. While healthcare and auto insurers stepped to the plate to help their customers in a time of need, dental insurers did nothing. In fact, they continued to collect premiums. Our research shows that dental insurers collected $8.6 billion during the COVID shutdown.

With membership plans, dental practices are in control—including plan design, pricing and fee schedules. Practices are paid directly by patients, and the hassles and frustrations of dealing with insurance middlemen are eliminated. 

3. Increased costs and decreased production 

A model that did not work prior to COVID-19 is only getting worse. Patient distancing has forced lower patient volumes and decreased production, while the cost of PPE and infection control further misaligned practice costs and PPO reimbursement. Based on conversations Kleer has had with our customers, we estimate the following cost increases and production decreases due to COVID.

  • PPE (masks, gowns, shields, etc.): $15-$30 per visit
  • Infection control (HVAC, sanitizer, etc.): $5000-$10,000 per office 
  • Infection control (hand scaling, operatory sanitation): 5-10% production decline 
  • Patient distancing (no waiting room, patient screening, etc.): 20-25% production decline

Watch the on-demand webinar to learn how a dental membership plan can double the value of your patients, so you can worry less about the impacts of PPE, infection control and patient distancing protocols. 

4. Cash flow is critical to the survival of your practice

When practices across the country shut their doors because of the COVID crisis, it is safe to say panic ensued for many. Cash stopped coming into practices when patients stopped coming in; however, bills for rent, equipment leases, debt and payroll persisted. A membership plan is one path to generating consistent, recurring revenue that your DSO or group practice can depend on in good times and bad. According to data from Kleer customers, membership plans will generate an average of $25-$60 per patient per month. This recurring revenue was a lifeline to many practices when the COVID-19 shut down occurred. The webinar shows what this means for your practice, depending on number of patients you expect to enroll in your plan.

Dental care, liberated™

As an ally to the dental industry and advocate for patients who want simple, affordable oral care, Kleer is leading a movement to liberate dental care. Kleer is hosting monthly webinar discussions on the topic of liberating dental care. Our webinar programs include educational content and open discussions. We will be announcing our July webinar soon—stay tuned!

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