Ah, the Millennials. A generously-sized generation with a reputation for breaking the mold of their parents’ and grandparents’ purchasing habits, they present a challenge for thought leaders, market watchers, and industry consultants alike. This is true in the dental profession, too.
But fear not! We’ve got the secret dentists need to land these sometimes elusive clients: membership plans.
This somewhat new-to-the-scene concept offers the sense of security many find in insurance, but through an approach that meets a changing workforce where they are.
Millennials have a challenging history of being unable to get jobs that offer comprehensive health care or enable them to pay for it in full right away. The Great Recession clouding their entrance into adulthood is a big factor here, but so too is their desire to break away from the 9-5 and engage in the gig economy. They are also more likely to follow multiple career paths in their lifetime than previous generations.
Throw that together, stir in the millennials’ general distaste for big business, and you’ve got yourself fantastic candidates for dental membership plans.
You see, this format saves dentist and patient money, it’s more personal, and it makes out-of-pocket payments (a reality for many millennials) less daunting.
Let’s talk more about why those are three big reasons millennials respond to dental membership plans...
They save money.
An insurance alternative, a membership plan is a direct payment agreement between you and your patient. This makes for a more straightforward exchange. You get 100% of the payment and they get 100% of the services they paid for. This is an appealing benefit for your patients.
Today, 70% of patients are paying more to insurance companies than the true market price of the services they receive. By the time they pay premiums and copays, insured customers shell out much more than they should.
According to a survey done by Wolters Kluwer, 61% of millennials did not go forward with a medical treatment because they were concerned about the cost versus 31% of baby boomers.
Although the money comes directly out of the member’s pocket, membership plans actually save them in the long run because they get the real rate for the services and aren’t paying for anything they don’t need. And let’s not forget that millennials are younger, so they’re less likely to need major restorative care.
But when they do, you’ll be there. This is the second reason membership plans seem like a perfect solution to those 80s and 90s babies...
The process feels more personal.
Membership plans are a great way to build loyalty with a patient, especially millennials. For some of the same reasons we mentioned before—financial strain, namely—this generation is less apt to go to the doctor or the dentist in the timely manner their grandparents did. But what they do have in common with their elders is an appreciation for small business.
Millennials respect and value all things local. A defining feature of their culture is responsible consumership. They see clearly what happens when large corporations edge the little guys out—and they don’t like it. Generally, we’re talking grocers, bookshops, boutiques, and the like. But this sentiment fully translates to the dental profession.
Despite the financial struggles that have defined them, millennials are much more likely to go out of their way to give their business to a family-owned, around-the-corner practice. They aren’t a fan of that national chain feel and might avoid it even if it’s the most affordable option. So, making them feel like they have a personal connection with you is key. Because it is worked out one-on-one between you and them, a membership plan helps a dental practice to achieve and reinforce this relationship.
Now let’s jump back to that one other thing we touched on: millennials don’t attend appointments consistently. It’s true. In many cases, they are chronically short on cash, extensively overworked and overscheduled—and without insurance.
Yep, no coverage. And so, the third reason millennials love a good dental membership plan...
It makes paying out of pocket more digestible.
According to the Bureau of Labor, the number of U.S. workers participating in the gig economy is on its way to increase by 43%. Meanwhile, Prudential says that 48% of millennials are engaged in some sort of gig work.
This could be because of their recession-influenced entrance into the workforce, a general desire to do things differently, or both. Regardless of the why, it means that a growing segment of the population is without access to traditional employer-subsidized coverage options.
Here’s where dental membership plans shine: they offer the sense of security many find in insurance.
For all of the reasons we’ve mentioned, implementing a dental membership plan in your practice is a great way to show your millennial patients that you understand their needs and that you care about their care. The advent of the dental membership plan has brought forward a barrier-reducing solution millennials—and their dentists—have long needed. It just makes sense.