How In-office Plans Can Help Free You from Insurance and Benefit Your Patients

By Landon Lemoine

If you’re a motivated dentist looking to separate your practice from mundane and outdated work brought by traditional insurance, incorporating in-office plans into your practice could well be the way to accomplish this — as well as bring in new patients and increase your income.

Even better, their subscription-based model not only benefits the practice, but also its patients. Here’s how.

How Patients Benefit

Provides the Uninsured Financial Options

Roughly one-third of the adult population has no dental insurance. According to the American Dental Association, almost two-thirds of uninsured patients have no plans to go to the dentist in the next 12 months.[1] Unemployment brought on by the pandemic greatly increased the number of people who have no coverage.

Without coverage, the idea of paying upfront for the needed work can be financially daunting, and in some cases, impossible. Membership plans equip practices with tools to provide financial options to their patients that enable to pay for and receive the care they need.

Patients needing expensive treatment can sign up for a monthly or yearly payment plan that allows practices to break up the cost of treatment for the patient into manageable monthly amounts. This is a better alternative to credit agencies with high interest rates or insurance companies with lofty coverage.

More Cost-effective than Traditional Insurance

More Americans are leaving traditional dental insurance behind and are looking for more cost-effective alternatives. In-office plans can help your practice keep these patients and keep them away from phony discount cards and inadequate insurance plans.

Because in-office plans are easily customizable, they can provide a better, more personalized treatment plan for a patient. Patients can avoid paying for coverage they may never use, because these plans enable them to pay a manageable monthly cost for the services they need.

How Practices Benefit

Creates Recurring Revenue

Converting uninsured cash patients to an in-office plan generates more recurring revenue for a practice and can bring uninsured patients in the door more often. In-office plan members also are far more likely to show up for their second visit, knowing they’re getting the care they need without taking on a large and immediate financial risk.

Creates the Ability to Work with Local Businesses

In-office plans allow practices to go beyond working with individual patients by enabling them to work with local small businesses. While practices can increase their patient base by working with these businesses, they’ll also be helping by enabling them to provide true benefits for their employees without the cost and hassle of working with a traditional insurance plan.

Decreases Admin Work

As a practice increases its in-office plan membership, the practice’s admin work will decrease. This is because the more individual and uninsured patients purchase the in-office plans, the less pre-authorizations and claims it will need to deal with.

In short, in-office plans provide a real benefit to a practice’s existing patients, can drive new ones in the door, and help free dental offices from haggling and battling with traditional insurance companies.

[1]https://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_1114_1.ashx


The FDA knows the frustration its members have with third-party payers. That’s why we’ve partnered with Bento to support adoption of a dental benefits administration technology that allows dentists and patients to remove artificial barriers to care and reduce administrative costs while improving oral health. Bento is a modern alternative to traditional dental insurance by enabling employers, groups and individuals access to comprehensive dental coverage through an advanced AI-based digital platform. Unlike traditional insurance companies, Bento works directly with dentists and provides solutions for practices, patients and employers. When creating in-office plans powered by Bento’s tech-enabled platform, dentists have complete control from plan design, pricing, and Bento even provides the tools needed to start selling plans to patients. Creating a plan powered by Bento is completely free, only takes minutes and FDA members receive a discount on administration. Visit floridadental.org/bento for more information.

Hurricane Practice Prep

We’ve all seen the dramatic effect hurricanes can have, both the initial wind and rain and the floods and devastation that follow. There are steps you can take to stay safe and reduce damage to your property in the event of a storm.

BEFORE A HURRICANE

  • Install storm shutters.
  • Remove yard debris, such as dead tree limbs, that could become flying missiles.
  • Make sure your practice communication plan is in place and ready to be put into effect.
  • Make sure you and/or employees know how to shut off utilities, including water main.
  • Look through your emergency kit to ensure it is fully stocked and up to date with necessities for preparing your practice.
  • Back up computer records and store them at least 50 miles off-site.
  • Gather important papers to take with you if you must evacuate, including inventory lists and insurance information.

DURING A HURRICANE

  • Know your community’s evacuation plan and, if asked to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Stay inside and away from windows, skylights and glass doors. Avoid elevators.
  • Avoid washed out and wet roads that can hide downed electrical lines or underlying currents that can carry your vehicle away.

AFTER A HURRICANE

  • Water is a major cause of damage after hurricanes. The longer your house is exposed to water, the more damage you’ll see to your roof, ceiling, walls and floors, as well as any personal belongings inside. After the storm has passed, it’s important to dry out anything water damaged.
  • Open windows and doors to allow air to circulate and speed up the drying process.
  • Clean up any broken glass and remove debris.
  • Board up broken windows and doors.
  • Cover roof damage with tarps or plywood.
  • Save receipts for any temporary repair expenses.
  • Move any wet items to a dry place.
  • If possible, place any damaged items in a safe, secure area where they can be inspected later.


Content provided by Safeco Insurance.

This article was originally published in FDA Services’ Hurricane Guide, “Storm Proof.” Be prepared for the 2021 hurricane season with articles about how to prepare, loss and damage, and making a claim. Visit fdaservices.com for more information.

Are You Prepared for Hurricane Season?

June 1 is the official start of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season! Don’t let that important date pass you by without reviewing your storm readiness plan and ensuring you have the right coverages in place to protect your practice. Creating an airtight plan now will give you the peace of mind to focus your attention on other challenges your dental practice may face in the coming months. 

Here are a few points to keep in mind this season:

  • Flood policies have a 30-day waiting period before they become effective.
  • Your office insurance could have some gaps that leave you vulnerable to storms (i.e., wind damage coverage). FDA Services (FDAS) can help identify and fill those gaps.
  • It is important to review the value of your building and its contents every few years to ensure that you have enough coverage.

Call or text FDAS at 850.681.2996 to review your coverage today!

2021 Hurricane Guide

Make sure you check out the 2021 FDAS Hurricane Guide, “Storm Proof,” which is full of helpful resources that will help you prepare for this year’s hurricane season with plenty of time to spare.

Closing a Dental Practice: Patient Safety Considerations

By David O. Hester, FASHRM, CPHRM, Director, Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management, The Doctors Company

Dental practices undergo closure for many reasons, including dentist illness, death, relocation, or the dentist’s decision to sell, practice solo, join another group or retire. As a service to our members, the Department of Patient Safety and Risk Management of The Doctors Company provides this information to make the transition easier.

What should be done in an emergent situation?
During any change in practice, the continuity of patient care to ensure that no patient is neglected is of paramount concern. If the change is abrupt — as in the circumstance of a death — the safety measures below will assist in ensuring patient safety and continuity of care.

Review all previously scheduled appointments to determine the appropriate action. Immediately contact a dentist of the same specialty to arrange patient care or provide patients with a list of dentists of the same specialty within the area. You also should take the following steps:

  • Ensure the availability and accessibility of dental records as needed for the continuity of patient care.
  • Post a notice of closure in the office and in the local newspaper. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for a sample notice.)
  • Call all dentists who customarily refer patients to the practice and all contracted managed-care organizations, and the medical malpractice carrier.

Who should be notified if it is a non-emergent closure?
If the practice closure is non-emergent, notify the following individuals and entities:

  • all patients and legal representatives in the “active” caseload; this includes any patient seen in the past six months to three years or others the dentist considers “active,” and any patient in an acute phase of treatment
  • all peer dentists within the community
  • local dental societies
  • all third-party payers (including Medicare and Medicaid) and managed-care organizations
  • the DEA (if you are retiring or if you are moving to another state)
  • the state licensing board
  • professional associations in which you hold membership
  • your CPA or financial adviser
  • your employees
  • landlords, lenders and creditors
  • insurers that cover the practice, the employees and the physical facility

How should the notice be communicated?
Draft a letter to each patient that contains all the necessary details. The same letter can be used for everyone listed above. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for a sample letter.) It’s recommended that letters be sent with return receipt requested and that a copy of the letter and return receipt be kept. If a patient is considered high risk, send the letter certified with return receipt requested. Post a notice in a local newspaper to inform inactive patients or those who have moved away. Include directions for obtaining acute, critical or emergency care if a new dentist has not been selected by the time the practice closes.

Is there a time limit for sending the closure notice?
Yes. In a non-emergent situation, send the notice at least 60 days prior to the anticipated closure. This gives patients an opportunity to locate a new dentist and to obtain copies of their dental records without undue stress.

What other responsibilities should be undertaken by the practice that is closing?

  • Provide patients with easy access to their dental records by enclosing an authorization document in the notification letter you send to them. (Contact your patient safety risk manager for samples.) When the signed authorization is returned, you can provide copies and apply appropriate charges.
  • Provide information on where the dental records will be stored in the future, the length of time (in years) that the records will be retained, and a permanent mailing address or post office box number for all future record requests. Arrange a secure storage place for the original dental records that is safe from theft, fire, flood or other weather-related disasters.
  • Maintain the dental records in accordance with The Doctors Company’s recommendations: 10 years after the last adult visit and 28 years from birth for pediatric patients. The records should be easily accessible and retrievable.
  • DO NOT give original records to patients. The easiest method is to find another dentist to take over the practice and turn the records over to that provider or turn the records over to another dentist of the same specialty.
  • Stress the importance of continuing care for all patients. Provide information about where they can find another dentist, such as the Yellow Pages and the local or state dental society.
  • Make provisions for the completion of all dental records.
  • Place a notice of closure in your waiting room and in the local newspaper for at least one month, giving pertinent details of the closure.
  • Consult with your personal or practice attorney and the state licensing agency to ensure that you have met all regulations.
  • Destroy remaining prescription pads.
  • Keep the narcotics ledger for a minimum of two years.
  • Dispose of any drugs.

 

Contributed by The Doctors Company. For more patient safety articles and practice tips, visit www.thedoctors.com/patientsafety.

The guidelines suggested here are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each health care provider in light of all circumstances prevailing in the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.