So many times when we are thinking about educating our patients, we are thinking only about the person in our chair, and what their specific circumstances are at that moment. However, as we have all come to learn over the last few years with the ever-changing economy, people’s circumstances may not be the same from one month to the next. They may have insurance at the time you treatment plan a crown needing to be done, and they may not have insurance one month later.
We need to educate the patient on what their needs are the moment they are in our chair, and explain how the benefits they have at the time will play in helping to pay for their needs. Here is a challenge for all of us to take on - educating our patients about what they don’t need, and how it may work to not have insurance.
For example, Mr. Smith was at the dental office today and had periodontal probing throughout his entire mouth that was within normal limits - no bleeding upon probing, no recession, and he has never had a cavity. Mr. Smith is also lucky enough to have an employer that purchased and pays for a very good insurance plan with excellent benefits. What could we as dental professionals ever teach Mr. Smith when it comes to periodontal disease, cavities, and insurance benefits?
Mr. Smith made the comment that he always worries about coming in and being told that he has a cavity, because he has never had one. The hygienist may immediately reply with a statement similar to the following: “That is great that you have never had a cavity, but when it comes to gum disease and cavities, if I had to have one or the other, I would rather have a cavity because we can fix cavities. We cannot cure gum disease. We can only slow down the progression of it. Of course I would prefer to not have either in my lifetime.”
The hygienist should consider continuing from there by saying: “I always find it sad when I have patients that come in and have gum disease as the result of not having insurance for a period of time. The thing that most people don’t realize is that they may have to pay more now than they would have if they had come in and done the preventive care and paid cash. The reason why is because now they most likely will need to pay a percentage of the treatment being done, and the cost of the treatment is higher. Not only that, the patient has lost the health of their mouth, and will be fighting gum disease for the rest of their life.”
The other thing to consider when talking to patients is that with so many employers picking insurance plans that pay less benefits and make the employee pay a larger portion out of pocket, it may be more cost effective for them to put their contribution in a separate bank account every month and not even pay for insurance. This account would be used to pay for their dental appointments when needed. This is a very good way for quite a few patients whose oral health is similar to Mr. Smith’s good oral health. Insurance is not the end all.
So, when you have a patient in front of you, consider that word of mouth is one of the best referrals into your practice. Current patients may take the education you give them and share it with a friend, family member, or remember it when it applies to their life circumstances.
Interested in improving your hygiene department? Email email@example.com and ask us about our 1-Day Hygiene Training Program.
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