Motivating Insurance-Driven Patients

When dental patients tell you they will only do what insurance covers, it is not a reason to acquiesce.  Instead, it’s a wakeup call for you and your team regarding how you present treatment and educate patients.


When patients fail to schedule for recommended services, it often means they will use the same amount of money (or more) to pay for something they do value.  Another competitor for their discretionary spending did a better job than you of creating a sense of need and a clear image of how they would benefit from the service or product.  Fortunately, you and your dental team can level the playing field by using the same approach.

It starts with using understandable language.  Consider how advertisers present services and products to us.  Advertising messages are easy to understand, and we can often picture how we will benefit from making the purchase.  Contrast this with the clinical phraseology you use chair-side.

For example, telling patients they need to return four times each year because they have perio and deep pockets is both confusing and ineffective.  Instead, motivate patients by reminding them they have gum disease which is currently under control because they come in four times per year.  Make the extra costs relative by asking them to put an extra $20 aside each month, and remind them this is one of the best investments they can make for their dental health.


Make sure you and your team communicate the same clear message whenever you discuss treatment and services.  Let patients know how they will “benefit” from investing in their oral health.  And whenever possible, use intra-oral photos to reinforce recommendations.

Although it requires a little extra time and teamwork, you can motivate insurance-driven patients.  When they clearly understand how your recommendations will benefit them, they are far more likely to schedule.

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