Do Dentists Do Better Without Accepting Dental Insurance?

It might be hard to believe, but there was a time when dentists had happy, fulfilling, and rewarding careers without the “benefit” of dental insurance.

Today, of course, dental insurance is practically inescapable and the impact on dentists is severe.

Insurance prompts more people to receive dental care, and that’s a positive aspect. However, dental insurance serves as a cap on the services that many patients are willing to accept and that’s a shame.

There’s probably not a dental practice in the country that doesn’t get dozens of calls every week that begin with, “Do you accept my dental insurance?” followed by, “Does my insurance cover this?” The majority of today’s dental patients are looking for the lowest out-of-pocket costs for care; understandable, but ultimately self-defeating as they well not receive the treatment they need.

Dental Insurance Is Like Fast Food

Fast food restaurants seem to be everywhere, but no one says that you have to eat there. It’s pretty much the same with dental insurance. You don’t have to cater to insurance companies or insurance-driven patients.

That statement usually elicits a “You’ve gotta be kidding!” reaction from dentists who can’t imagine how their businesses would survive without insurance. The reaction is understandable; the vast majority of dentists have never known what it’s like to practice with billing insurance companies.

But that reaction overlooks an entire segment of almost every dentist’s market – the 20 to 40 percent of prospects who don’t much care about what insurance will pay for, the ones who aren’t driven by low price, the ones who can afford to be selective about the dentist they select to solve their dental problems.

By refocusing your patient attraction efforts on that segment of prospects, you can markedly increase your average case value, secure new patients who are looking for a long-term relationship with their chosen dentist, and sharply decrease your reliance on dental insurance.

Insurance Or No Insurance?

The decision whether to entirely reject dental insurance depends on each dentist’s goals and market. There are any number of practices that no longer accept dental insurance, going entirely fee-for-service. There are more practices that have moved to a hybrid model, limiting the number of plans they accept.

Regardless, the decision to decrease reliance on insurance depends on the demographics of your market and your ability to siphon off a significant percentage of the “better” patients in your market.

It’s the latter point that’s the most important. SmartBox’s analysis indicates that in almost every market, a minimum of 20 percent of prospects fall into the “better” category. In more upscale markets, that percentage can rise as high as 40 percent.

However, the “traditional” approach to dental marketing is very unlikely to increase the number of fee-for-service patients in your practice. A complete refocusing of your marketing is required, and that’s a big ask for an already busy dental practice.

Make The Call

SmartBox specializes in helping more than 4,000 dentists on three continents attract the patients they want.  If you’d like to see what’s possible for your practice, schedule a Roadmap call. The call is a deep dive into your goals, the competitive forces at work in your market, and how you’ll reach those goals.

Following the call, we’ll send your completely personalized Roadmap to the future you want for your practice.