Is dental insurance the mob? Do you have to take their deal? And if you do, how do you get the most out of it? How do you get out? We discuss all of this and more in this episode of Dental Marketing Mastery!

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Podcast Highlights:

  • Insurance as a marketing medium
  • Up front costs
  • Transitioning away from insurance
  • Existing patients
  • Dealing with getting rid of insurance
  • New technologies
  • Online scheduling
  • Adding convenience and value

Podcast Transcription

Hello, and welcome once again to the Dental Marketing Mastery series. This podcast is brought to you by and New Patients Incorporated. I’m Howie Horrocks, the Founder of New Patients Incorporated, along with me once again, as my friend and partner and the President of New Patients Incorporated, Mark Dilatush.

Howie: Hello, everybody. Welcome once again to our weekly podcast.

Mark: Hello, Howie.

Howie: Yes.

Mark: Is the entire town of Las Vegas going Las Vegas Golden Knights crazy right now?

Howie: I’ll tell you last night, it you know you were high fiving with complete strangers walking down the street.

Mark: Right

Howie: They’ve done something that’s never done happen in the history of sports that I know that inaugural season they make it to the finals.

Mark:  I know. I know. You’re NBA. And plus, it’s a city that’s been starved for? Oh, yeah. national sports team since.

Howie: Since forever.

Mark: Congratulations to all the

Howie: Yeah,

Mark:  Los Vega-ns.

Howie: It’s a lot of fun.

Mark:  I know. I bet.

Howie: Anyway, what are we doing? Today? We’re gonna be talking about dental insurance. There’s a good one.

Mark: Yeah, it’s been a while

Howie: It has.

Mark: There’s lots of updates. There’s some general advice. And then there’s some updates as well. So, we get, I don’t know, 30-40, maybe 50 start-ups a year. How it’ll engage, and invariably can engage us, which is a really good starting point for the entry of insurance. Let’s, let’s back all the way up. And let’s define insurance participation. Basically. Insurance participation is a marketing meeting.

Howie: Yeah, it puts butts in the chair, right?

Mark: Yeah, some guy let’s, let’s pretend some guy shows up. He kind of looks like he was in the sopranos, right? He shows up at your office and says, “Hey, Dan, I got a deal for you. Right. I’m gonna send everybody from my union over to your office. But I want 20% kick. No, seriously?”

Howie: No, I know. It’s just It is Soprano like,

Mark: Okay. I mean, think about it. Right? That’s pretty much what it is. And then goes, Well, how are they going to know to choose me? And the mob boss goes, Well, I’m gonna stick you on my list. I’m gonna send a list to them once a year. And, you know, I’ll put you up on my website. How’s that? And then goes? What’s it cost me of from? The mob bosses? Nothing, nothing, nothing! And then, Dr. Dan says, you gotta deal. And of course, the mob boss goes to every other dentist in town. Guys do and pretty soon the mob boss says 20% of everybody’s revenue.

Howie: Yeah.

Mark: Okay. So, I know, it probably wasn’t the appropriate analogy, but I’m from New Jersey, I get to make that analogy.

Howie: You’re right down the street from them.

Insurance as a Marketing Medium

Mark: Right down the street from so anyway. So insurance, dental insurance is, is a marketing medium, you trade 20 to 30% of your revenues to accompany who’s willing to put you on a on a on a list and on their website on another list, and then return on, they are going to expose you to the employees of the employers that they sold policies to? I mean, basically, that’s what it is.

Is it all bad? No, it’s not all bad. Is it All good? No. So not all good. It’s kind of right in between. And what you really, really, really want to do, if you own a dental office, is put your business hat on and look at it for what it is. It is a potential to attract patients to your office with less investment, friction, then other marketing mediums, because it doesn’t really cost you anything up front to sign on with an insurance company froze.

From that standpoint, it looks really, really enticing to the young dentist or the new dentist that’s buying their practices, maybe for the first or second time. Because at that point, they’re kind of in a you know, they might be in sort of a panic mode, right? Where am I gonna get all my patients, from let me set up on all these plans.

Okay, well see, when you’re first starting a practice, that kind of makes sense, it makes sense. You might, you might want to ask, you know, take a local office manager from a different dental practice out for lunch one day and just ask our “Well, what are the most prominent dental insurance plans that you have in this town?” And she’ll say, I don’t know, whatever, Delta, Cigna and United Concordia, okay, fine. And you might want to just participate with those three. Your marketing might want to actually list the ones you participate with front and center. And you might want to have a mention of them on your homepage. So at the very beginning, when there’s nobody in the chair, the chair is empty.

Howie: Right?

Mark:  You might want to use dental insurance for that purpose to fill the empty chair.

Upfront Costs

Howie: Right, the big bit about no upfront costs is, you’re right, it’s critical to especially a new start-up. You know, traditional marketing plan you got, you know, if you’re gonna do any mail, well, that that’s the printing, and there’s a cost right there. And if you want to, you know, buy a mail list, or if you want to do radio, they don’t they don’t let you pay as you go, you pay up front there.

Mark:  Even build a dental clinic website or do dental PPC or do anything, anything online dental marketing or offline is going to cost your money. Exactly.

Howie: Right. Right. It could make total sense, you know, in the beginning stages of crack,

Mark: Right?

Howie:  Sure.

Mark: What you do is you participate with as many as you can want to have to, you know, given your market area. And you fill capacity in your practice to the point where it’s really kind of difficult to get it in a new patient appointment within eight workdays. Right?

You get to that point, and you start to say to yourself, Well, now, volumes of new patients really aren’t my problem. Now, the quality of the new patients is really my issue. And it’s at that point, or maybe shortly before that point, where you start to transition your marketing focus from those plans more toward attracting patients who aren’t on those plans so that you can ultimately get rid of those plans.

Howie: Great. Why don’t we take a short break here, Mark, and we’ll continue this discussion about how the how you transition?

Mark: Got it?

Howie: Okay, we’ll be right back.

Hello, everybody. This is how we Horrocks and along with me is Mark Dilatush. She president of new patients Incorporated. How you doing Mark? Hey, how are you? How are you? This is the part of the podcast where we get to brag about our company. Yay. So sometimes it gets lost. And all these podcasts what new patients incorporated actually does. We have? I don’t know how many podcasts 75-81 a week for well over a year. And all of you listen to these a half hour at a time and you might lose sight of what we do. So here’s the short answer. We do everything we’re talking about in these podcasts on behalf of our clients. Okay, we know the podcasts are there for our clients, of course, just so they understand what the heck we’re doing.

But also for the doctors who are do-it-yourselfers. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer. And you want someone to do this for you,, there’s an icon in the dead center at the top of our homepage where you can get a complimentary marketing plan, a series of questions will need to be completed. And once you complete that, we will analyze your market area, develop a marketing plan and get on the phone with you discuss all the sections of the marketing plan just to make sure you understand a couple of things, what you’re up against, what your expectations should be, and what market how we would do if we owned your dental practice.

Howie: Hello, once again, we’re back. We’re talking about dental insurance. And we’ve gotten up to the point where dentist might be considering transition transitioning away from dental insurance. And it’s right Mark?

Mark: Yeah, and certainly you want to reach your capacity first. But you don’t want to transition out of dental insurance until you have your chairs filled, your hygiene is booked. And you know new patients are having to wait four or five days, maybe six days they get into your practice, then you say to yourself, okay, well, if marketing cost me 5% of my revenues. What insurance cost me to 25? If I spend five, and I can replace the patients who are on these other dental insurance plans, I actually gained 20% right there.

Howie: Yeah

Transitioning Away From Insurance

Mark: Okay. for the same work, no more work, no more…you know, you don’t have to go to a new you don’t have to have a new service. This the same services you’re providing right now. You can get 20% bump, just by replacing how you’re promoting your practice. So, the next step in the life cycle of the practice regarding insurance, is to count the number of new of patients who are on each of these plans.

Let’s say you have three plans. Plan one has 200 patients, Plan two as 100 and Plan three has 50. You always start with the bottom one, you always start with the lowest number, kind of invert the list, so that it goes from the lowest to the highest. And what you do is you do dental practice marketing, you spend 5% of your revenues to attract higher quality new patients, until you end up until you end up with 50 new patients.

Once you reached 50 new patients who don’t have that plan, you and the rest of your team can have a cake, put a couple candles on it. You can all write your letter as a group. This is an incredible team building exercise. If you want to make it one, it really is. And you can formulate your letter to the in that insurance plan, that insurance company. Letting them know that we’re disengaging, we’re no longer going to be participating in your in your plan. And everybody on your team will be will rejoice Trust me. And then you move on to the next other plan with the next highest number. I have patients represented in your office and you replace that number of patients before you get rid of that plan.

Howie: Yeah, this could take years, right? In reality,

Mark: Yeah, normally 36 to 48 months, three to four years. And then so on average, you may have a practice that has nothing but dental insurance plans. In other words, you have like my I don’t know any practice that has no fee for service patients.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: Normally, even with the even with the most insured patient basis, normally it’s 60-65% are insured, the other 35% are not. Obviously, in practices like that, it’s going to take a little longer, but normally 36 to 48 months. And don’t underestimate what I said about this being an incredible team exercise because there’s really nobody in your office who wants to get rid of dental insurance plans any more than your employees.

Howie: Yeah,

Mark: Okay. Yeah, the people at your front desk, hate the eligibility, hate the you know pre-d’s, the person posting the insurance checks hates balancing it off. If you have associates, it’s a pain in the ass to track production, it’s just the entire operation is a pain. Okay, they will rejoice and they will look forward to every step on this journey. Let’s just fast forward, let’s say that takes four years.

Now, at the end of four years, you’re at capacity, again. Your schedules full. You’re having a difficult time finding four or five, you know, six days out. And you look down at your, your profits, you go, my God, I worked the same number of days, I took the same number of vacations. I have the same staff. Yet my profitability went up to 20%.

Howie: That’s a great day.

Mark: That’s a really good day. Right?

The only bad part of that is talking to your tax person. Right?

Really, besides, I mean, that’s basically in a nutshell, if you look at everything in like, you know, in a spreadsheet, that’s basically what happens on that day on the day. It’s just a matter of how big you want this thing to grow. And that’s, that’s really kind of a personal decision.

I have lots of friends, clients, dentists, that they just, they just want a nice life balance between being a solo practitioner and, and their home life and their hobbies and their friends and all that other stuff. And then I know dentists that are, you know, they just want to like the world on fire and go crazy. And either one of those is fine. It’s a very personal choice.

But another thing with dental insurance, actually, this applies more. I’m going to take you back now all the way back to starting up again. But this applies to the offices listening to this, you have insurance. And they may have online dental appointment scheduling.

Online Scheduling

Howie: Oh, yes, there’s some new developments there.

Mark: Yeah, there are some new stuff that’s happening and it’s not going to stop happening it’s going to continue happening. You know Howie and I are known, for being bleeding edge probably, because we’re older than 25 right.

Every once in a while, on these podcasts, we actually let you know, let you know something that’s new-new that very few people know. Anyway, um, if you have a dentist online scheduling facility and that online scheduling provider has a relationship with an insurance company, you end up being on the top of a search.

Here’s what that means. Most employees’ will look for a dentist that’s part of their plan on the insurance company’s website because they have a card cards in their wallet the card says United Concordia. The card says and the card says find your provider at They take the card out and they go to the website. And on the website, there’s a little zip code thing to type in your zip code. And up comes the United Concordia providers in and around that zip code.

Well, if they have online dental scheduling the system prioritizes them and puts them up at top, the very top of that search no matter the distance from the target. What does it, what does that do? It gives you a competitive edge if you want more united Concordia patients.

Howie: And that makes sense too. Because, you know, online scheduling is a huge convenience. And it’s good for the consumer, the person, the searcher. It’s gonna pops up and it’s good for the insurance company.

Mark: Right? So that’s basically the mob boss going yeah, you know what, per day I give you a special deal. Today, I’ll put you at the top of all the searches on my website. Right.

So anyway, so yeah, there’s lots of stuff there. Um, and that’s just going to continue to get developed. I mean, that’s not going to end that’s just beginning. There’s going to be added value for a while, because the insurance companies are also interested in making things easier for their subscribers to find a provider. So, it’s when things like that are aligned, they tend to work out and they work out really well. And in this case, they’re working out wonderfully.

We have a client now in Allentown, Pennsylvania, who didn’t even have a dental clinic website, but they were already United Concordia office. And the widget was installed on United Concordia they started getting patients online, they didn’t know where the hell they are coming from, because the widget wasn’t even on their website yet.

So seriously, I mean, lots of people emergencies and new patients, that’s what they use. They use the insurance directory a lot, you know, to find the dentist they’re going to use. Anyway, yeah, so that’s an update on dental insurance participation is sort of like a historic history as a backdrop, and an update on insurance participation, how to use it, when to use it.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s not a good thing. It just is the thing, and you use it as a tool, just like you use other marketing tools. And now you know when to use it. And you know when not to use it. So, hopefully that helps many of you.

Howie: Yes, I’m sure it will. Well thank you out there in audience land. We love you all. And we look for to this every week, don’t we Mark?

Mark: We do.

Howie: We do. And we will see you again next week. And you will hear from us again next week. Bye now.

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