Due to the dramatic increase in uninsured patients, dental membership plans are more important than ever before.
In 2021 and beyond, the financial landscape for dental patients will look vastly different than it has for the past few decades.
The steady rise of the freelance economy has been increasing your uninsured patient percentage for some time. But the number of patients without any dental coverage is spiking.
Well, there are a few reasons.
1. The gig economy is alive and well.
According to Wonolo, an on-demand staffing platform, growth in freelance workers is nearly doubling year-on-year. Members of all generations are recognizing the freedoms—and opportunities—that can come with “being your own boss.”
And they’re liking it. The same Wonolo article cites that 50 million “gig workers” are completely happy with their workload and pay. Plus, only 30% would prefer a full-time position (from a Stride Health survey).
Add to that what we already know – millennial and gen z professionals generally don't love the 9-5 corporate format. Together, these insights suggest that the jumps we’re seeing in gig workers, freelancers, and solopreneurs will only continue to increase.
Not to mention, the COVID factor.
2. The pandemic has left many without insurance.
In the wake of COVID-19, the economic impact on businesses and restrictions for health and safety resulted in a few major changes to the workforce. Many individuals were laid off from their full-time positions and are collecting unemployment. Others are hunting for still-scarce jobs or pursuing gig work full-time (see section above).
Others chose to follow that latter path for the sake of staying safe at home. Still more individuals have kept their jobs, but at the cost of benefits, which many businesses sacrificed to cut costs enough that they could continue to pay salaries.
According to a recent survey that was compiled by Urban Institute from April 2020 to July 2020, more than 3 million people had lost employer-sponsored health insurance coverage as a result of the COVID-19 recession. And 2 million of those did not transition into a new insurance option.
These situations, while each unique, all create one common reality for those within them: no dental insurance.
3. The virus influenced our perspective on health—for the better.
The interesting foil to the above is that people are more aware of their health, and how crucial health care is, than ever. The varying symptoms and long-term implications of COVID-19 have opened up a conversation about how all aspects of our health are intertwined. We better understand how preventive care is essential to keeping major problems at bay over the course of a lifetime.
So, even though many of your patients may now be without insurance, their motivation to seek out and maintain dental care is likely trending upward.
Longtime patients will be more likely to schedule cleanings and keep the appointments. Those who haven’t gone to the dentist in a while—whether because of a lack of insurance or a fear of going—might now have a different perspective.
By offering dental membership plans, you can help them make it happen, which also helps your practice take full advantage of this renewed interest.
So what does all of this mean for you and your practice?
It means you’re being given an opportunity to evolve.
If ever there were a time to give the business side of your practice ample attention, it’s now. The traditions of the dental profession have drastically changed over the past few years and decades. Just ask our dentist CEO, Dr. Brett Wells. He founded DentalHQ as a response to a market of patients that is vastly different than it was even five years ago. The next few years promise to alter this aspect of the dental profession even further.
It’s time for you and your practice to grow. You’re a great dentist, but you’ve got to be a great businessperson, too.
Imagine a day-to-day in which your office manager, rather than confirming appointments and playing phone tag with insurance representatives, is more focused on positive patient interactions. On genius marketing campaigns. On efficiency-improving process changes. This is the kind of reality—built on smart use of time and talents; agile when needed—that your practice must achieve.
Dental membership plans are the key to opening that door, and the recent unique challenges make turning the knob even more relevant right now.
You’re going to have more patients than ever before who don’t have, or maybe don’t even want, traditional dental insurance coverage. This makes for a unique business opportunity for dental practices. An opportunity to own it all, from patient care to payment system.