Having the Affordability Conversation with Patients
Encouraging patients to pursue the dental care they need is always difficult, and when the out-of-pocket burden is high, it becomes even more challenging. But practices that are good at addressing patients’ affordability concerns will have better financial outcomes and greater patient satisfaction.
The two primary reasons that patients choose not to pursue dental care are fear of pain and concern about affording the cost of care. A 2021 study found that 46% of patients say it’s difficult to afford out-of-pocket costs for dental care. This is more than those who report struggling to afford health insurance or a mortgage. With dental insurance enrollment stagnating over the last few years and healthcare costs likely to rise, affordability challenges are likely to continue.
Helping patients navigate paying for their care is a critical skill for every dental practice, and the benefits of a good payment experience are substantial. Here are some tips to ensure that your practice is best prepared to help talk with patients about affording care.
Enabling a Good Conversation
- Ensure treatment plans are presented clearly. It’s important that your patients understand what they are being treated for and why it’s important for them. Good practices present the treatment and why they recommend it in layman’s terms so that every patient can understand it.
- Provide multiple payment options. Customers need multiple ways to pay for their care. Third-party patient financing, digital payments like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Paypal, as well as internal financing plans will all help your practice best serve patients and maximize plan acceptance.
- Present all a patient’s payment options together. Many patients don’t know which payment method is best for them. Presenting all a patient’s options together in a platform like FeatherPay will give them full clarity on their options and help them evaluate what’s best for their situation.
- Let patients use multiple payment methods to complete their transactions. For larger treatment plans, many patients need to use more than one payment method. FeatherPay data indicates that dental patients with out-of-pocket expenses larger than $1,000, patients opt to use multiple payment methods about 10% of the time. Failing to make it easy to combine payment types to pay for their care will result in patients with larger out-of-pocket burdens to walk away.
During the Conversation
- Let patients know that many payment options are available. Most patients aren’t aware of the suite of payment options available to them nor can they articulate clearly the difference between these options. Proactively explain that you have a number of pay now and pay later options available based on what their needs are.
- Encourage patients that you’ll get the most you can out of insurance. Patients want to know that they’re getting the most out of their insurance, even though most patients don’t know what their insurance does and does not cover. Actively stating that your practice is committed to minimizing their out-of-pocket costs will help them feel better about pursuing care.
- If the patient seems hesitant, keep asking questions to find out why. Many patients won’t say directly what is keeping them from moving forward. Instead, they’ll be vague in their responses. Ask patients directly what’s keeping them from pursuing care.
- Give them space. You want patients to feel comfortable making their decision. Often, this means giving them the space to evaluate their payment options. Payment platforms like FeatherPay let you send an invoice to a patient's mobile phone. They can then complete their payment without you having to be in the room.
Common Questions and Responses
That seems expensive!
I understand that this may be more than you were expecting to pay. Just remember that as dental conditions worsen, the prices get more expensive and the work more extensive. So right now is the very best time to take care of your dental needs.
Is that the best price you can do?
I can understand how affordability is an important factor. Because we value our patients’ time and pocketbooks, we always present the best price to every patient, every time.
I need to talk to my spouse.
I completely understand, and I like to talk with my spouse about important health information too. I’ll step out of the room with you to give you a few minutes to call your spouse and discuss it. That way, if they have any questions that you’re unable to answer, I’m right here.
If you are interested in improving your treatment plan acceptance, then FeatherPay may be able to help.
FeatherPay is a patient payment platform that accelerates revenue and lowers operational costs for dental practices while delivering a great experience for patients. By combining all the different ways a practice enables payment into a single experience for patients and administrators, FeatherPay enables a productive conversation with patients about how to pay for care.
Practices that use FeatherPay have seen a 5-20% increase in their revenues. Furthermore, they also see improvements in operational metrics such as same-day care, patient times in the office, and unpaid patient liabilities.