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4 ways to make it easier for your dental patients to pay for treatment


A pile of cash

In a study released in November, 2014, the ADA Health Policy Institute reported that cost is one of the top reasons adults were not visiting a dentist. Specifically, cost of care was specified by 35.7% of adults aged 18 through 34 43.4% of those aged 35 through 49 and 50.5% of adults aged 50 through 64. Even among those with private health insurance, 35.1% of respondents cited cost as the biggest reason for not visiting the dentist.

Clearly, dental practices seeking to increase production need to address what many prospective patients identify as a financial barrier to treatment. This does not necessarily mean reducing fees, because the actual cost is less important than the affordability. Making purchases affordable has become a common strategy for increasing sales by all types of businesses in our society. From monthly payments for cars and houses, to adding purchases to credit card balances, to promotional discounts, consumers (who are also dental patients) respond favorably to affordability strategies. Such strategies also work for dentists.

Payment options: Growth strategy for dental practices

For all treatment plans that will require significant out-of-pocket expenditures by patients, offering these four payment options will increase your acceptance rate:

5% or 10% discount for payment in full when treatment begins

Patients who have good personal cash flow but are trying to economize will find this to be an attractive option. It will also appeal to those who like getting a “deal” or buying products that are on sale.

Half-payment at the start of treatment, half on completion

Patients who’d rather pay cash than create debt - but need to spread out the cost somewhat - will often respond to this plan.

Acceptance of major credit cards

The credit card industry and retailers thrive on consumers’ desire for convenience and the ability to make purchases without counting what’s in their wallet or bank account. Allow your patients to enjoy these advantages.

Outside financing

Acceptance of larger cases increases when practices help connect patients with reputable finance companies, such as CareCredit, to handle payment for treatment. In exchange for a modest fee, you not only increase production but also eliminate potential collection problems.

Getting the word out

Having these payment options will result in production growth - even in the new dental economy - but only if your patients are aware of them. Implement these communication strategies:

Send out messages about your payment options to your entire patient base.

If your practice is like most others across the country, a significant number of your patients are not even coming in for visits let alone being asked to accept treatment. To enjoy the full benefit of offering payment options, you have to communicate with all patients in your database proactively, via e-mail or regular mail. You should also include payment information on your website and in social media posts.

Acquaint all patients in consults with your payment options.

You literally have no idea which patients will be interested in choosing from your four payment options so present them to everyone.

If you want to increase production, be sure to offer a range of payment options as one of your growth strategies.

Editor's Note: References available upon request. Photo by Revisorweb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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