They’re one of the most talked about trends in dentistry today; what exactly are professionally administered In-House Membership Plans and why are they so popular amongst today’s dentists?
What are In-House Membership Plans?
In-House Membership Plans, also referred to as an In-House Dental Plans, are not insurance but rather a licensed dental plans that are offered through dental offices directly to patients without insurance.
Unlike traditional dental insurance plans filled with red tape, In-House Membership Plans feature no waiting periods, maximums, exclusions or claims process. In exchange for a low annual fee, members receive transparent discounts on all dental procedures rendered at their dentist office.
Why are they so popular amongst dentists?
The popularity of In-House Membership Plans is directly correlated to the unpopularity of dental insurance amongst both dentists and patients.
According to the National Association of Dental Plans, roughly 77 million Americans don’t have a dental plan and self-pay for dental care.
This has resulted in a large number of individuals and families either not going to the dentist at all or going only when they’re in need of significant dental work.
Combine this with the fact that large dental insurance companies like Delta Dental and United Concordia continue to lower reimbursement rates for network providers, it’s no secret why In-House Membership Plans are so popular amongst dentists.
Professional Administration vs. ‘Mom & Pop’ Administration
With so many ‘mom & pop’ In-House Membership Plans popping up in independent and small group dental offices nationwide, it’s very important to point out the administration features In-House Membership Plans must contain to actually increase an office’s case acceptance, services rendered and patient loyalty.
Until the recent launch of the My Loyal Dental Plan platform, professionally administered In-House Membership Plans have only been available to dentists affiliated large dental service organizations like North American Dental Group, Heartland Dental, and PDS.
Here are some features you’re In-House Membership Plan must have to be a success:
Regulatory Compliance. One of the biggest – and most important – features of a professionally administered In-House Membership Plan is that it’s regulatory compliant. Roughly 25 states now have Discount Medical Plan Organization (DMPO) statutes on the books.
Membership Billing. Patients must pay a set membership fee to be a member of their dentist’s In-House Membership Plan. The membership fee should be billed separately from any services rendered fees and properly reflect the plan’s overall value to its members. Typically, dentists will require their patients pay their membership fee annually so they’re members are “locked in” and encouraged to come back to their office(s) for their regular scheduled treatment.
Member Terms & Conditions. An In-House Membership Plan must include a detailed Member Terms & Conditions document that’s in compliance with state DMPO regulations. The Member Terms & Conditions must be accepted by the member when enrolling in their dentist’s plan and should contain language clearly illustrating its participating dentists, membership costs, refund policy, member discounts and more.
Member ID Cards. An In-House Membership Plan should have a Member Welcome Kit that includes Member ID Cards with the member(s) name clearly illustrated. Patients that are a member of their dentist’s plan simply present their Member ID Card at the time of service to verify their eligibility for member-only discounts.
Member Renewals. One of the main reasons dentists utilize In-House Membership Plans is because they’re a great way to increase loyalty from self-pay patients. In order to actually accomplish this, an In-House Membership Plan must have a process to notify its members of their upcoming renewal so they’re encouraged they renew their membership and continue regularly scheduled visits. Today’s most successful In-House Membership Plans, including the ones administered by Ascension Dental, will notify its members of their upcoming renewals by proactively sending out a renewal letter (30 days prior), email (7 days prior) and making a courtesy call (5 days prior).