I don’t want anything that isn’t covered by insurance.”
Wendy Briggs, RDH
What’s a dental team to do? We hear these words all the time in the dental practice.
The patient comes back for their preventive maintenance visit, and they tell their hygienist, “If my insurance doesn’t cover it, I don’t want it.” How do we overcome this? Should we even try?
We have long held the philosophy that the patient should always drive their experience. We focus on giving the patient what they want. So how do we balance that philosophy, and this statement even while we realize that much of what we should provide to this patient is not covered for them?
These are all excellent questions that we are faced with daily in the dental world. I have found that the best way to overcome this attitude is to help the patient understand the why. Why is it a good idea to look beyond the basic coverage that many insurance companies provide? What benefits do they stand to gain when choosing to pay out of pocket for preventive services that aren’t covered…this is what they need to know.
I often teach hygienists a few key phrases that can help guide patients’ decisions regarding care that is not covered for them. The key is helping them see the value in paying themselves for these services. It really is all about the cost vs benefits!
Many dental patients that we serve today are high risk for disease. They are high risk for cavities and often high risk for other serious infections in the mouth. If they are high risk for decay, they have a higher need for preventive services. The reality is, if we take the time to have a risk assessment conversation with the patient and highlight WHY these services are a good investment, we can often help them see the value. When they see the value of the investment, they no longer insist on covered services only. Also, I should note that even in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, when patients understand WHY these services are beneficial, they get them done.
You can download a free copy of the Risk Assessment tool we use here: http://theteamtraininginstitute.com/risk-assessment-brochure
To begin this discussion, I usually say something like this, “My job is to let you know of any opportunities I see that can benefit you. Your job is to let me know what you would like me to do about it.” This statement often takes the pressure off of the patient and helps them see that when we discuss treatment options that are elective, it really is up to them. We care about their dental health and want to give them the information and science so they can feel good about their decisions.
When we perform a risk assessment and identify that they are at risk due to their history of decay, multi-surface restorations, dry mouth from medications (the list often goes on and on) They may have a different perspective about what they are willing to accept if they understand the connection between their risk factors and their ongoing struggle with cavities. This is especially important for the patient who has already invested in restorative dentistry and repairing the damage from infectious caries. These patients understand the value in protecting the investment they have already made in rebuilding their mouths if we help them see it from that perspective.
Then the conversation about Fluoride, prescription-strength products for use at home, sealants or other valuable preventive services becomes about helping them succeed in spite of their risk factors. Giving every patient the opportunity to win in their battle is incredible rewarding for both patients and providers.
We have made a commitment that we refuse to allow dental insurance (or lack of it) to dictate the level of care we provide. Our patients often need more, and they deserve the opportunity to make educated decisions that affect their dental health.
For more on increasing preventative services acceptance and how you can double your production starting tomorrow, we have made 43 copies of our #1 Amazon best-selling book, “The Ultimate Guide To Doubling Your Dental Practice Production” free for readers of the Profitable Dentist. They will be available at www.DoubleProductionStartingToday.com while supplies last.