This Year’s Must-Have Holiday Gift: Patients
Here we are, just weeks from the 2013 holiday season. Oh Joy…or not. For dental practices, the holidays deliver an abundance of no-shows, last minute cancellations, and any number of excuses to delay treatment. But with a little planning, the final weeks of the year present the perfect opportunity for dental practices to ensure that the schedule is not only full, but patients are in the chair. That opportunity comes in the form of the annual insurance benefits notification to patients.
Many dental insurance plans are just sitting there with benefits unused and poised to go to waste as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 31. In fact, dental insurance companies count on making 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. But insurance companies certainly aren’t going to alert customers, and most patients are too busy to study how much remains on their policies. So it’s up to dental practices to get the word out to patients - and fast.
I recommend a multifaceted approach that makes use of all your practice/patient communication tools, including postal mail, email, text messaging, Facebook, Twitter, your website, and the practice blog to let your patients know that you have a little gift just for them this holiday season.
First step, identify those patients with unused insurance benefits who are in need of treatment or preventive care. Next, draft an email to notify them of the unused benefits. For example, the email might read, “Our computer estimates that you still have unused dental insurance benefits available to you. Unfortunately, you will lose those benefits if you do not use them by the end of the year. We want to help you secure the insurance coverage available to you on every dental procedure you schedule, and this is an excellent time to take care of any hygiene visits or dental treatments that you might have been putting off.
Give us a call today, and together let's make sure you get the treatment you need in time for the holiday season. As a special incentive for scheduling your appointment, we are offering a free teeth whitening kit if your treatment is completed by December 31, 2013. Please call (give phone number and name of appointment scheduler) or ‘click here’ to schedule your appointment.”
In addition, post a general message on your Facebook page reminding patients that unused insurance benefits cannot be carried over. Consider writing a practice blog explaining to patients that dental insurance companies bank on policy holders who do not use the benefits to which they are entitled and have paid premiums to secure. Consider a tweet along these lines – Are you about to lose your unused dental benefits? Call Dr. Joe and find out 222-555-1234.
For patients who may prefer postal mail over electronic messages and email, send a letter to inform them of their unused benefits. Include information along these lines:
Dear Mrs. Patient,
Did you know that each year insurance companies make millions of dollars off patients who forego necessary and preventive dental care? Many individuals are not scheduling necessary dental treatment that they have insurance to cover. Thus, the insurance revenues allocated to pay dental claims are never used, and unfortunately, those dollars cannot be carried over year-to-year. The bottom line: What the patient does not use they lose.
Our computer estimates that you still have $$$ in unused dental benefits. We are here to help you secure the insurance coverage available to you on every dental procedure you schedule. Give us a call today, and together let's make sure you are in excellent dental health. As a special incentive, we are offering a free in-home teeth whitening kit for all dental treatment completed by January 1, 2014. Give (name of appointment scheduler) a call at 222-555-5555. I look forward to seeing you soon.
P.S. Find out about additional interest free financing options for dental care. Check with Peggy in my office for all the details.
For more information on this topic, visit my blog: The Lighter Side
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