9.28.12 Issue #551 info@mckenziemgmt.com 1-877-777-6151 Forward This Newsletter

Insurance “Coupons” Put Patients in the Chair
By Sally McKenzie, CEO

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I stood behind a woman at the grocery store the other day. She had a cart full of groceries and a fistful of coupons. I watched in amazement as this woman cut her grocery bill almost in half. I take advantage of coupons and special offers from time to time, but I had not thought much about, let alone seen, “extreme couponing” until then.

Coupon use is growing. Consumers saved $4.6 billion in 2011 and coupon use rose over 12% from the year before. According to an analysis by The Neilsen Company, more affluent households dominate coupon usage: 38% of ‘super heavy’ users and 41% of ‘enthusiasts’ come from households with incomes greater than $70,000. Households with incomes of $100,000 and up were the primary drivers of coupon growth...”

I suspect you are asking, “What does this have to do with dentistry?” It is a reminder that attitudes toward money - specifically spending and saving - have changed significantly over the past four years. Patients don’t want to lose money any more than you do. Moreover, those most tuned into the value of the dollar - the better educated, higher income households - are also those most likely to understand the importance and value of your dental care.

However, as consumer savvy as this population may be, I can virtually guarantee the majority of them don’t realize that they are likely losing $500, $250, $700 in your office. How? Many, many patients have dental insurance plans with unused benefits that are poised to go to waste come year’s end.

As I remind practice after practice, dental insurance companies make millions of dollars off of patients who never use their insurance benefits because unbeknownst to the consumer, many of these plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually. Certainly, the insurance companies aren’t going to encourage customers to use benefits, and it is the rare patient who actually knows what they have left in benefits. Most are too busy to sift through their policies to determine what might remain on them, which makes informing them about the benefit an excellent win-win opportunity for patients and dental practices.

What’s more, fall is the ideal time to alert patients to unused benefits. There are still a few months before the end of the year to improve practice production, and you get the patients’ attention before the holiday rush kicks in. 

Take these steps:

1. Generate an “unscheduled treatment plan report.”
2. Identify those patients who still have unused insurance benefits.
3. Use the letter I’ve prepared for you below.
4. Add a P.S. that says, “Take your insurance dollars further with interest-free patient financing. Ask ‘Jessica’ in my office for all the details.”

I can virtually guarantee that every patient you notify will thank you for calling this to their attention. Whether they take advantage of the opportunity or not, they will appreciate the fact that you took the time to educate them on this important insurance detail.

Below is a suggested letter that you can customize to best fit your practice.

Dear Mrs. Patient:

Did you know that you may lose $XXX in dental care benefits? Our computer estimates that you still have $XXX in unused dental insurance benefits that will be lost by the end of the year.

Each year insurance companies make millions of dollars off patients who forego necessary and preventive dental treatment. Many individuals who are paying for dental insurance do not realize that their plans provide coverage up to a certain dollar amount annually.

Consequently, some patients are not scheduling the dental procedures they need, deserve, and have insurance to cover. Thus, the insurance money available to pay dental claims on many patients is never used, and, unfortunately, those dollars cannot be carried over year-to-year. The bottom line: What you don’t use, you lose.

We are here to help you secure the insurance coverage available to you on every dental procedure you schedule. Give (name of appointment scheduler) a call at 555-1234. I look forward to seeing you again and addressing your dental care needs promptly.

Dr. Dental Health

P.S. Find out about additional interest free financing options for dental care. Check with (name of appropriate employee) in my office for all the details.

Next week, don’t stop here. Follow-up.

For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side.

Interested in speaking to me about your practice concerns? Email sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com
Interested in having Sally McKenzie Seminars speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.
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