If you’re a general dentist, you probably define your target audience more by geography than by demographics. However, there is a segment of the population who spend a lot more time in the chair than any other: seniors. Many of them no longer are employed, and this presents an opportunity for dentists everywhere to offer the ultimate solution to attract and retain retirees: dental membership plans.
Allow us to explain.
The United States Census Bureau estimates that the baby boomer population has now reached 73 million. People in this age group tend to need more restorative dental care than any other, and this presents a unique problem. Medicare most often doesn’t offer coverage for dental care and according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the number of companies including retiree health benefits in their packages has dropped by 50% since 1988.
Alongside that challenge, the personal finance landscape looks a lot different when you’re no longer bringing in fresh cash, and this generation—the children of a post-Great Depression world—has a unique perspective on the value of a dollar. They know what things should be worth, so paying a premium—especially an insurance premium—without seeing the return is decidedly not their preferred approach.
Membership plans offer a simple and transparent approach to provide excellent care for retirees – there are many reasons dentists can use membership plans to target their senior audience.
retirees will get what they paid for
Baby boomers, more so than younger generations, are frugal at heart. They don’t like to be overcharged for anything, be it a cup of coffee or a five-figure dental treatment. I mean, who does? But seniors seem to be really good at spotting it and making sure they’re getting their money’s worth. They’ve mastered the art of scrutinizing itemized receipts; they know how to avoid being nickeled and dimed.
Understanding the full cost of a procedure before any work is done, as opposed to getting surprise bills in the mail for months as insurance processes this part and that, is precisely the sort of transparency they desire.
Now, let’s add another layer to this: most people aren’t able to navigate the complex and esoteric insurance world of medical codes, deductibles, and policy payouts. This makes disputing charges—or even knowing they’re incorrect—pretty difficult.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just pay the true value for only the service we were actually rendered? Enter, again, dental membership plans!
Because it’s essentially a payment schedule, a dental membership plan enables you, the dentist, to offer your patients a transparent way to compensate you for your work. It’s a mutually respectful interaction that builds trust and appreciation.
It makes financial planning (essential when you’re essentially living off of savings) simpler.
The straightforwardness of dental membership plans compared to insurance isn’t only a big deal to retirees because of the perception of a fair transaction.
When you know what you’re paying thanks to a dental membership plan, you can better form your own personal finance plan, too. This is critically important when your salary comes from a lump sum that needs to last.
According to data released by Employee Benefit Research Institute and Greenwald & Associates, 3 out of 4 retirees are confident that they have enough to maintain comfortable retirement, but only 30% describe themselves as “very confident.” This means that they probably have the money to pay for what they need, but they are still worried about long-term sustainability. A more clear-cut solution empowers them to see far into the future of their finances, rather than being blindsided by costs and feeling out of control.
seniors save money.
We all wish it weren’t true, but the need for more health-related intervention, rather than just prevention, is a natural part of aging. No longer does eating less sugar solve all of your problems. At a certain age, doctors and dentists become a more relevant part of one’s life.
But for retirees, this can pose a problem, because as we mentioned previously, Medicare doesn’t always assist seniors with dental care, and more frequently than ever before, their employment packages aren’t including it either. All this despite the fact that many significant dental problems can have wide-ranging health implications (for example, gum disease may increase your risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease).
So, clearly, avoidance of dental care is not a great option, but this means that retirees are paying shockingly high premiums. Take the parents of Eric Dawe, our VP of Business Development, as real-world examples. They retired not too long ago, and were recently on the hunt for dental insurance. They discovered that the best option would cost them $70 a month per person and had a low cap and long waiting period on restorative care. Yeah, we were surprised too. The insurance industry jacks up their rates because of the greater likelihood that they’ll need more expensive procedures, and even says “we won’t pay for it after a certain point anyway.” And Eric’s parents are left with no other options. Until now, that is.
With dental membership plans, they can work out a system for paying for both preventive and restorative care that actually gets them what they need (rather than charging them exorbitant costs, and still refusing some treatments, purely because of their age)—a refreshingly antiageist reality.
membership plans Reduce discount-hopping.
Dental membership plans will also save them money in the form of discounts offered. While many seniors are familiar with—and will even “practice hop” to take advantage of—paid coupons for dental work, a membership plan is far more beneficial.
Instead of paying for a discount, retirees can pay for the services they need and receive discounts as a perk of membership at your practice. Many dentists choose to establish a Senior Plan, which might, for example, include two preventive visits per year and a 20-30% discount on restorative procedures—all for one monthly price that looks nothing like an insurance premium.
As we think you’d probably agree by this point, this is a win-win. Dental membership plans help attract and retain retirees: by offering plans to your senior patients, you can help them to better manage and maintain their finances, and provide benefits that encourage them to stick with your practice and team, building a relationship along the way.