You finish with your exam and set the patient up to review your findings. You make your recommendations for dental treatment and the patient seems to understand; however as soon as you finish talking the patient announces, “I’m only doing what insurance covers.”
Few things deflate a dentist and team more than having patients who let dental insurance dictate the pace of care. In some situations, the patient is choosing the path of managed neglect since insurance benefits only provide modest help for someone with lots of pending treatment.
The other casualty in this situation is a dentist’s morale, and I often find dentists who change the way they diagnose because they are weary of insurance questions.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When patients indicate they are unwilling to do more than what insurance covers, they are often simply telling you they do not see the value of treatment. The challenge is not dental insurance; the real obstacle to overcome is connecting with your patients.
Start with what happens before you do your exam. How effective is the co-diagnosis that occurs with your hygiene team? Does your hygiene team use value-building phraseology such as decay, fracture, discomfort, infection, and disease? How often is your intra-oral camera used?
What value-building phraseology do you use during your exam? And keep in mind that dental terminology, while clinically correct, communicates absolutely nothing to the patient. If you are asking patients to step outside of insurance, you need to clearly communicate the benefits of treatment.
Dental insurance is a terrific benefit, a gift certificate that helps patients with their treatment needs. Since all gift certificates have their limit, it’s up to you and your team to build value to ensure that patients do what’s best for their dental health.
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