No one wants to pay for dental care. Smartphones and cable are funner and sexier. Grown ups take care of needs before wants. Let us help you keep the needs stuff less expensive so you have more left over for the wants stuff!
I was checking out at the Hallmark store this weekend when the clerk started the now familiar dance.
“Do you have one of our Hallmark Crown Rewards cards?”
“Would you like to sign up for one? You can earn points for rewards with every purchase.”
What I actually wanted to say was, “No, I just want to buy my cards in peace. Thanks.”
It isn’t that any individual clerk is particularly pushy about it. It’s more that you can rarely go into a store any more where they don’t want you to sign up for a card or a “club.” I guess they offer coupons or gift certificates if you buy a certain amount at the store. But what they really do is allow a store to track what you purchase. I’m not super worried about the privacy issues involved. I’m more interested in being able to buy something without going through that extra conversation.
Every. Single. Time.
At Best Buy: “Do you have a Reward Zone card with us?” I do, I never carry the actual card and I don’t think I’ve actually ever redeemed a single reward point from Best Buy.
At Dunham’s: “Do you get our coupons in your email?” This is an easy one. I can say, “I already get them, Thanks!” I do, but I’ve filtered the emails so I don’t have to see them.
Tractor Supply Company might be the worst. They don’t have a club that I know of, but they always require your phone number and zip code before they check you out. It’s like being held hostage (very pleasantly, for a very short time) in order to buy some Carhartts!
We have a club, too. We call it the Mead Family Dental Gold Club. It’s for people who don’t have dental benefits that are looking for a great way to control costs for regular dental care.
But I promise we’ll never hold you up at the check out to offer it to you.
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If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments. I always answer my own emails!
Let’s say you don’t have dental insurance but you’re still interested in top notch preventive dental care. Preventive services like cleanings, exams, fluoride treatments and x-rays are one of the most cost effective ways to catch dental problems when they’re small. You know this and you want to stay on top of things.
One advantage of having dental insurance benefits is that most preventive services are either paid for or heavily discounted. Dental benefit plans are willing pay for these types of preventive services because, in theory, it will reduce the amount of other treatment you might need.
Here at Mead Family Dental, we want everyone to have the incentive to come in for regular preventive care. So for those without dental benefits, we offer the Mead Family Dental Gold club!
Here’s how it works:
For a yearly fee you get all of your exams, cleanings* and x-rays. Along with that you receive a 20% discount on any other dentistry that you choose to have done. Make sure you check out www.meadfamilydentalgoldclub.com for all of the specific details. Also remember, the more family members you add, the greater the value!
We’ve had a LOT of people joining “the club!” Most of them are finding that it’s way less out of pocket expense to join the Gold Club, especially if they were planning to have preventive care anyhow!
If you have any questions about our Gold Club I’d love to answer them! Email me at email@example.com. I answer all of my own email and I’m pretty quick about it, if I do say so myself!
I just saw a news item about a new dental discount service called "brighter.com."
I'm not able to see exactly how it works, but it seems to be a "dental discount plan" administered by a company. The company is clearly aiming the service toward those individuals or families that do not have dental benefits to help defray the costs of dentistry. You pay a certain amount to brighter.com and they give you a list of brighter.com dentists that will give you discounted prices on services. Membership doesn't appear to include any services, they just entitle you to discounts. You pay the dentist directly at the time of service. The service boasts that you will be able to see how much a service costs online so you can comparision shop.
The idea is intriguing, but let me see if I can take a little wind out of their sails:
The plan is limited to the dentists that have signed up with them on their website. I would expect that in a larger metropolitan area you may find more dentists who have signed up. Around us (Saginaw Bay area of Michigan) the pickings appear to be limited.
The fees listed on the site (they listed "prices typical in Freeland, MI 48623) were all over the map and didn't seem consistent with fees that I charge for procedures.
They listed nonspecific procedures with a fee. For instance, they quoted a fee of $254 for a "cavity." A cavity is not a service. A cavity is a hole in the tooth created by acid from oral bacteria and dietary acids. A cavity can be small or large and can be fixed in a variety of ways. I couldn't tell you how much it would cost to restore a cavity without diagnosing the problem first.
This is a business model put together by bright people who don't know all that much about dentistry. They understand that people without dental insurance are looking for discounted dental care. The concept is good. The idea of being a loyal, paying patient in return for a discount just makes sense. But why does a third party like brighter.com need to be involved? In fact, doesn't paying a third party a monthly or yearly fee add to potential costs?
"Well," you say, "dentist's certainly aren't offering this kind of a discount plan."
You're right…I'm not offering this kind of a discount plan. I'm offering a MUCH BETTER ONE!
The Mead Family Gold Club is an excellent option for those without insurance who are interested in top notch preventive care and would like a discount on dental services. You can find the details here or just go to www.meadfamilydentalgoldclub.com. But here it is in a nutshell: for one low price you get cleanings, x-rays and exams for a whole year and a killer discount on other dental procedures.
Interested? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at (989) 799-9133. We'll give you all the information and get you on the road to dental health and great discounts!
Dental insurance companies make a LOT of money. Even the non-profits. The way that they do this is to pay out less in dental treatment than they take in from patient premiums. Their goal is to take in more in premiums from their average subscriber than they pay out in dental fees. There are a lot of tricks the dental insurance companies can use to create patient incentives to limit dental treatment. The strategy I’m going to talk about in this post is “the predetermination.”
As a dentist, I’m excited by all of the cool and innovative treatment options that I can offer patients. Patients are sometimes excited by treatment options, but usually have concerns over the costs of treatment.
Let’s say I diagnose a failing filling with a new cavity underneath it. I recommend that the patient restore this tooth with a crown before the decay gets any larger and causes a need for more extensive treatment (like a root canal, or worse…loss of the tooth). The patient has to work through several concerns before they go ahead with treatment:
How much time will it take?
Can they work it into their schedule? If so, when? Will they need to arrange different rides for the kids’ soccer and football practices?
Will it hurt?
How much will it cost? Will the insurance that they take money out of my check for help pay for it?
Often, my office team can help explain the procedure well enough and arrange the timing conveniently enough that it comes down to the $$$. Kathy does an amazing job at predicting if insurance will cover treatments and how much. But the insurance companies make it as difficult as possible for us to guess. Often the patient wants to get a “guaranteed predetermination” of how much will be covered. This is a huge opportunity for the insurance companies to save money for themselves.
First, a predetermination takes time. Even though we are completely connected via the internet, the insurance companies like to take a couple weeks to get back to the patient. By this time the patient has long since forgotten about the decay (which is usually painless while it’s growing) under their filling and the patient didn’t make an appointment for the crown.
By making the patient wait for the estimate of how much the insurance company will pay for their specific treatment the insurance company keeps a certain percentage of patients from going ahead with treatment.
How do I know this? I see patients every day that I’ve discussed treatment with who “slipped through the cracks” and didn’t complete treatment at the time we diagnosed a need. Sometimes the timing wasn’t convenient for the patient, but often we have a copy of the “predetermination” sitting in the chart but no appointment was made. This is the plan of the insurance company…and it often works.
Adding insult to injury…predeterminations aren’t binding. If you read the fine print, in most cases the insurance can still choose to not cover the treatment. I’m not going to say that happens often, but it can.
So, what’s the solution?
1) Make sure you trust your dentist’s opinion and that you believe they have your best interest at heart. If you believe your dentist is trying to push treatment on you for financial gain you need to ask the dentist more questions or find another dentist. Your dentist shouldn’t be annoyed when you ask questions…they should rise to the challenge! It’s great if you trust your dentist’s judgement on their word alone, but they should be able to show you what they mean and explain all the treatment options, even doing no treatment. If they balk at this…you should get a second opinion.
2) Make an appointment. Kathy and/or Shelly can usually guess when any predetermination will arrive via the mail as well as a rough estimate of your out of pocket costs for most treatment. Make your appointment for a couple of days after this. By that time we can discuss any concerns you have and change our plans if necessary. But at least you won’t have fallen through the cracks.
Questions or comments? Email me at email@example.com. I read and answer all of my own email and I’m always glad to hear from patients and prospective patients alike! Also, keep checking back for the other parts to this series on dental insurance! Part 2 will be published here.