5 ways to tell if dental benefit plans are failing your practice and patients

March 15, 2016

Because each dental practice is unique in how and where they are located and plans can vary widely in fee schedules, it is difficult to understand when plans are negatively affecting your patients and your practice.

Accepting dental benefit plans is often a necessary part of practicing dentistry. The dental benefit plans that you accept affect your revenue, the business of your practice and your ability to treat the patients in your community. That is why selecting profitable plans while managing patient flow is key to running a successful dental practice.

Unfortunately, because each practice is unique in how and where they are located and plans can vary widely in fee schedules, it is difficult to understand when plans are negatively affecting your patients and your practice. Keeping that in mind, here are five ways to tell that your dental plans are not pulling their weight in your practice.

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You aren’t meeting revenue goals

If you are not bringing in the revenue to match your goals, it’s probably worth examining your dental plans. The lack of revenue may be a sign that your fees are too low or that you are not accepting enough plans that bring in significant revenue. Dental benefit plans have varying fees and support different number of patients so, depending on the types of services you provide most often, different plans will have a significant impact on your bottom line.

What does an average patient cost the practice? We tell you here.

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You haven’t recently renegotiated fees

Fee negotiation is time-consuming and not transparent. It can be challenging to judge if you are receiving good rates for the benefit plan. This is why it is important to negotiate frequently, at least twice a year, and benchmark against national and regional data.

Find data here: 18 of the most popular codes and what dentists are charging

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You don’t have enough patients

Few can afford to pay out of pocket, even for extraordinary dental care, so ensure that all patients have access to your services by accepting key plans for your geographical region. This facilitates good dental care in the community.

Learning opportunity: Unveiling the secret new patient guide

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You want to manage your capacity

Dental practices have a set number of chairs where they can provide dental care, and this count limits the number of patients you can treat. Chair space also impacts the staffing levels and the number of practitioners working and bringing in revenue. Adding or changing dental benefit plans can increase or decrease how busy your practice is based on the number of plan subscribers in your area, so choosing the plan that keeps you busy and your patients in good oral health is key.

Learning opportunity: 6 things you need to know which switching software 

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You want to expand, but you don’t know where or how

If you want to expand your practice, you will need additional patients to fill chairs. Finding these patients can be challenging unless you accept common dental benefit plans. Plan your expansion and capacity by estimating the number of new plans and revenue each current and potential dental benefit plan will provide.

Learning opportunity: 3 must-read e-books for 2016

You no longer have to guess which dental benefit will benefit your patients and practice. ADA’s Benefit Plan Analyzer, powered by Sikka Software, helps you navigate through the process of selecting and managing dental benefit plans. The application uses data from your own practice to calculate the financial impact and capacity constraints of adding a benefit plan. The app compares plans side-by-side so that you can select the right plans for you.

ADA members are eligible for a six-month free trial. Click here to get started today.