MMM [Membership Plans] Is Employer-Based Insurance Costing Your Patients? Learn the Right Questions to Ask

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For a membership software that is built for growth and keeping the profit in the practice's hands, learn more about Dr. Chris Phelps' excellent Dental Membership Direct plans at:

In this week's episode of Monday Morning Marketing, join us as we sit down with the insightful Dr. Chris Phelps, founder of Dental Membership Direct, to dig into promoting your in-house membership plan! Dr. Phelps will share his expertise on identifying the ideal candidates for your dental membership plan and navigating the changing landscape of employer-based insurance. Learn how to empower your patients to save money while elevating their oral health through a strategic shift in mindset. Discover the art of tailoring your pitch to both the "fact finders" and "fact avoiders" among your patients, and uncover the key questions that can make your membership plan an irresistible choice. Tune in and transform your dental practice with actionable insights on marketing and promoting your membership plan to your existing patients.

Don't miss this episode – your patients' smiles and your practice's growth depend on it!

You can reach out to Dr. Chris Phelps here:



Chris' Book "How to Grow Your Dental Membership Plan":

Other Mentions and Links:

Dr. Drew Byrnes

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Episode Transcript (Auto-Generated - Please Excuse Errors)

Michael: All right. It's time to talk with our featured guest, dr. Chris Phelps and Chris talk to us about membership plans. How can we utilize this or what advice suggestions or methods can you give us that will actually help us? utilize and grow this membership plan?

Chris: Yeah, well, you know if many of you know that if you read my book on membership plans, i'm a fan You know, I grew two of my practices with them.

I had over 3 000 patients on the membership plan between my two offices combined and it was a powerful source of revenue and growth for those offices, um, both of which were fee for service as a result. So, you know, I would say there's really two big opportunities that I see with membership plans that is only getting stronger.

Right? Because, you know, who this is for is people without insurance and or people that are tired of paying for crappy insurance or their employer is constantly switching to the next plan and a different plan year after year that gives more and more restrictions, more and more exclusions on what they'll cover and with less and less reimbursement.

And of course, we know that's, you know, one of the reasons we'd like to get out of network is because our reimbursements have done nothing but gone down every year. So, if the number of people nationwide, uh, without dental insurance is increasing and the fact that they don't have insurance because our culture, it's, it's so ingrained in us, right?

We're so conditioned that you have to have insurance to go see the doctor for any reason, If they don't have insurance of any kind, like dental, then they feel like they can't come see us. So if they don't have insurance, they won't come see us until it hurts or they're in pain and more and more people are leaving and going without insurance.

Well, that tells us there's a, there's a need, but also there's a huge opportunity for us right there. So kind of 1 of my favorite things to do to start with is, let's say, you know, use this membership plan because it should be a profits interfere practice, right? It's something where your fees go up every year.

But the discount you give stays the same. So you, in theory, now your reimbursements go up every year. So, make sure that we're translating that with our patients. Because what, I love presenting membership plans to existing patients with dental insurance. Not for them to use it with the membership plan.

But to plant a seed and show them that maybe they don't have such a good deal after all. So the example I give is this, right? So most of them in a pre COVID world, so let's flash back even four years ago, back then the employer actually paid the significant portion of the employee's dental insurance benefit.

To the tune of the employer was paying about 60 bucks a month for the policy, and the employee was paying about 30 bucks a month for the policy, right? Not bad. Well, in a post COVID world, when companies were shut down and they're looking to recoup costs, companies realized they couldn't get rid of the benefit altogether, or people would revolt, right?

It's like scarcity, you take it away, and now people want it all of a sudden. So they knew they couldn't get rid of insurance, but they did something clever. They passed the buck. Meaning they started putting more of the cost of the insurance policy onto the patient. And then they got really good in the fact that they started bundling it in with medical insurance.

So they, to hide the, this fact. Okay. So they put it all together as insurance benefit. But the truth of the matter is, and what we found with a lot of patients is when you get, when they ask their HR person, seriously, how much is going to this dental insurance policy every month? What's going on in my check every month? You know, what a lot of them are finding is now the employee is paying 60 bucks a month and the employer is only paying 30. they're seeing 60 bucks a month coming out of their check for, again, a policy that keeps getting worse and changing every other year. And you present them with an option that costs even, let's say, you know, 35 bucks a month, 40 bucks a month.

Suddenly, when they're 60 and you're 35. That's a lot better deal. So we can actually influence our existing patients to do the math and go, Why am I paying for this thing over here? This makes no sense. And it keeps getting worse. Your thing is the same every year? Every year. Well, maybe I should do that.

It's cheaper. Hey, maybe you should. Right? So, plant the seed, point out the comparison of what they're paying every month and what your plant is going to cost them every month. And suddenly, They do the math. How do you do

Michael: that, uh, Chris? How do you start, let's just say somebody comes in with PPO insurance.

They never even mention it, right? That they need a membership plan or anything. Do we just bring it up? Like, hey, by the way, we have this membership plan. Or what would be the script for that?

Chris: Yeah, so with, usually if it's a, an existing patient, um, that doesn't have insurance, then I'm not necessarily going to promote the membership plan at the hygiene chair.

Okay. But if it's somebody with dental insurance, then I definitely want to promote it at the hygiene chair. And I usually like the hygienist to start the conversation, Hey, you know, Mrs. Jones, we're so glad you're here today. Dr. Phelps will be here shortly. You know, he's probably going to mention, uh, you know, this membership plan that we have.

Maybe not for you, but you may know someone that doesn't have insurance. I'll let him talk about it. So the idea is I'm going to come in and bring this up because they may know someone without dental insurance who may need help. We have something. So before I come in, I want to get my team to pre suede the patient by asking that key question.

Hey, I'm just curious before he does, have you noticed that your dental insurance policy your company's provided you, is it the same as it's always been or does it keep getting worse every year? Meaning cost more or your benefits go down, more exclusions, what have you. So automatically ask that commitment question.

Does it seem to be getting worse every year? Yeah, it seems like my costs are going up, and yeah, they keep, the benefits keep getting worse. Used to be 2, 000, Or, you know, used to pay for all kinds of things, now it won't even cover a bridge. If I'm, you know, I've got a missing tooth clause that we didn't have, So ask those kind of questions and see what kind of response they get. If you get any kind of answer that the, that it has gotten worse every year, then you've already got them in the right mindset to be receptive to hear your membership plan. So then when I come in, it's a lot easier conversation. The team's got to prep me and say, Hey.

You know, I talked to Mrs. Jones. Yeah, she has dental insurance. She may know someone without a plan, so it's worth talking about the membership plan. But just so you know, she did tell me that she does feel like her insurance benefits are getting worse every year and or more expensive. Perfect. So the seed has been planted.

The mindset is set. So when I come in and I can talk to her, I say, Mr. Jones. Yeah, so Sally was just telling me. So yeah, this insurance of yours. Yes, you must be like the majority of my other patients. So I'm going to leverage this idea of social proof. all of them say the same thing, their benefits are getting worse.

Right? The costs are going up and they're getting less for it. More and more reasons for the insurance to not pay for what you need. If you've, so you found that to be true for you too. Okay, great. Well, not that this is for you, but just so you know, we have this new thing, right? It's really for people without insurance or who would like to break free of their crappy insurance plan and get onto something different.

So, real quick, here's a couple of things, includes the same cleanings, all the things you're used to, uh, your two exams for the year, all your x rays, and you get a fixed discount off everything that we do. And the good news is the benefits don't go down every year. So here's a brochure. If it's ever of interest that you want to talk about or you want to talk about how to get off your insurance plan, feel free to ask the question.

Or if you wouldn't mind helping us out, please pass this brochure on to someone that doesn't have insurance. Because we found that a lot of times not having insurance is keeping people from coming, but we want them to know we got their back. We got something for them.

Now let's get to why you're here. Oh, your examples. Oh, I think look great. So it's a two part thing. It's a, it's a one, two punch, right? So the, the, the team sets this up. So that could be the assistant can be the hygienist. Right. And then I come in to deliver the final blow, if you will. Okay. So they planted the right mindset.

My insurance is getting worse. I come in and plant the seed. I've got something better.

Michael: Gotcha. Gotcha. Okay. So basically the hygienist is just asking the questions kind of like. Creating that space of doubt where you're like, you know what, you're right. Like my insurance is, and then she's giving you all the answers that you're wanting. Right. Kind of thing.

Chris: And then all I'm doing is in, so the hygienist is just asking questions. That's all they're doing. Yeah. But those answers are critical, right? Especially from an influence and persuasion standpoint. It's leading them down a path every time you ask a question, whether the patient realizes or not, it's setting the stage for this.

Yes, to the membership plan. So, if that answer is yes, this sucks. It's worse. It's changing anything in that category, then the door is open for the conversation. Let's just say the opposite happens. Let's say they're like, no, this is the best thing I've ever done. I love this insurance. Okay. Well, guess what?

This is not the person for that. But now, you know, yeah. Still doesn't mean I might not present it to them, but I may not leave the part. I'll probably leave the part out about them dropping their plan and jumping over to this, but I'll at least say, Hey, well, I'm glad you love your insurance plan.

That's fantastic. You're the only one I've heard out of the thousand,

but if you know anybody without insurance, do me a favor. Make sure they get this, and you hand them the brochure to pass on. Turn them into your advocate. They all know somebody. Like, what if every existing patient with insurance, whether they moved over to your plan or not, passed on that brochure to one potential person, one potential patient, who wasn't going to a dentist because they didn't have insurance.

And let's just say for, you know, for the fun of it, two out of 10 of those come in. How many new patients do you think that could translate every month? If you did that for every patient with insurance that came in, of the 10, they pass and they all pass it on to one person. And two out of 10 of those came in.

I'm gonna tell you right now, it would double or triple your new patient numbers. Yeah. Yeah.

Michael: Production would go a big time. Now, you say you hand them a brochure. What specifically in your area of expertise, like where, or what you've seen where it's too much on a brochure, like, you know what I mean? You're mentioning all, or is there no such thing when it comes to the membership plan?

Chris: Well, you know, I liked, uh, it should be simplified, but yet detailed, right? people kind of fall into two categories. Uh, they're what we call fact finders, or they're fact avoiders. And you don't really know where they are on the spectrum, right? So, you know, a third of the population can be either or. But a third are fact finders, meaning they need all the detail, and the other third are the quite opposite.

They want to avoid all the facts and details. They just want the two most important points. Simplified kind of thing, right? So the brochure should start out simple. Everything they need is on the 1st thing they see to get the gist of what's going on in bullet point fashion. But for all those fact finders, this is why I like a 3 panel brochure.

Right? I got a lot of real estate now to work with. So the 1st thing they open, here's all the bullet points, everything you need to know. But what's on the rest of this thing is all the other detail and data the fact finders got enough and everybody in the middle. So you kind of build it to accommodate both.

Assuming that those that are just looking for the quick facts will see it first and get what they need. But those that really want to just keep digging and digging, they can just keep reading, keep going left or right on the panels. to get the information that they need and hopefully satisfy their search.


Michael: And how do you follow up? Or do you normally see like with this one two punch it's like, Oh, immediately they want to sign up or what's the follow up game look like where you're, All right, we gave you the brochure. Do you call them if you don't see them again in six months or like maybe you're going to see them again

Chris: or?

No, you know, obviously, well, we would call them just to reactivate them if they're overdue for sure. But in that kind of case, it's, this is a, it's not pushy. It's all I'm doing is trying to plant a seed, right? And, and see if they can make the connection that I'm paying too much over here when I could pay less.

And get the same, if not better, results over here. if they get that, great. We welcome them onto the membership plan. If they don't, you know, for some people, the timing's just not right, right? So I've had several patients, you know, in my own practices, that were like, okay, yeah, this is great. Well, you know, I'm stuck in this thing.

I can't drop it. But when it's time to renew next year, I'm not going to renew. Hey, great. Fantastic. So I just trust the process, right? It's either going to work at some point or they're so committed to having insurance. They can't even see a different opportunity. And I'm okay with that either way. But at least if we're having the conversation.

Now I got a chance and I'm happy.

Michael: Do you think it'd be a good to start presenting it now? Like as the end of the year approach, you know what I mean?

Chris: Yeah. Well, cause most people's insurance renewed in January, January 1st, right? And usually by November 1st, they have to decide if they're picking it up again.

So now's the September and October are prime times to start making sure you have that conversation. your insurance policy is going to renew, right? Yeah. Have you seen the premium? Is it going up? What's your part going to be? Are you comfortable with that? You know, are the benefits going down on top of this premium going up?

You know, ask better questions. And suddenly you might get a different outcome.

Michael: Yeah, yeah that's true. And like now would be the time, right, to start presenting. To start doing that. So real quick, I wanted to ask you, Dental Membership Direct, right? That's um, your

Chris: plan. Yes, so Dental Membership Direct is a software company, uh, Dr.

Drew Burns, uh, started, and I've been working with him for the last several years. Uh, joined him in a partnership, and basically we're a small mom and pop company. Dentist to dentist. And that's what we do, right? We're passionate about membership plans and making sure doctors understand how to build a plan that's profitable for their practice and customize for their practice, but at the same time, build it to where you're not paying so much money and fees per month.

That you have to price your plan where your patients can't afford it. Does that make sense? Because ultimately there's companies out there that charges you percentages and it just seems like the fees are just never ending and like if I've got 3, 000 patients on my plan and I'm paying somebody some percentage of every one of those, you can imagine the check that would have been back in the day.

Astronomical. Gets out of hand quick. So, an affordable way that you don't have to do that, because every time you pay someone, right, whatever the rate is, you have to build that into your pricing, so it doesn't cost you anything, so to speak, you're passing it on to the patient. Well, as that continues to rise, as your fees rise, What you pay them rises, because it's a percentage.

If you keep adding that to your cost of what you charge your patients, eventually you're going to price them out where they can't afford your membership plan anymore. And you've defeated the whole purpose. So I'm a big believer of keep the profit in the doctor's office. That's where it belongs, So at Dental Membership, that's what we do.

We help them have an affordable way that they can track this stuff, a simple way for their team to onboard patients, and keep more of the profit for themselves. Gotcha. Normally

Michael: right now, and that's true, I've seen that a lot, where the fees get higher and all that stuff, right? But, dental members should direct.

If I were you and I wanted to, listening to this episode, I'm like, okay, I want to jump on. How much is

Chris: it? So, we charge a flat 199 a month.

Michael: and I can get on as many people, or?

Chris: As many people as you want. As many plans, you could have a perio plan, you could have an adult plan, you could have 15 kid plans, you could have an ortho plan, you can have whatever plans you want, right?

We don't limit you in the number of plans that you offer your patients, that's totally up to you. And we don't limit you in the number of people you can have on your plan, right? Because there's no percentage, it's a flat rate. we built this like thinking about my own practice.

Now, if I've got 3000 patients on the plan, guess who's keeping all the profit? I am. Right. So to me, if you're unsure, if you're, you want to dabble in the membership game, You know, go with one of the bigger names because they spend more money to get notoriety. That's fine. Okay, but just know you're paying more and get serious about a membership plan and you see when you start getting to 100 clients on 100 patients on it and 200 and you start feeling the effect of the fees.

Then it might be a time for a change. Yeah,

Michael: no, yeah, definitely a hundred percent. And I've heard from a lot of the listeners as well, they say DMD, right? Like Dental Membership Direct. It's very simple, easy, right? and that's the thing, I think, like, it has to be simple enough for your front office to be like, okay, let's, let's go through this, right?

Chris: Well, I'd heard other software companies and patients or team dentists and their team complaining to me that it was taking them, you know, 15 to 30 minutes to onboard a patient onto that platform. I was like, why is it taking 15 to 30 minutes to charge someone's credit card?

It's stupid. it takes more than 30 seconds to a minute to onboard someone with our software, then somebody please call me. Yeah,

Michael: yeah. Awesome, awesome. So, that's going to do it for this episode. And at the same time, Chris, if anyone wanted to reach out to you, where can they find

Chris: you? Oh, you can find me, probably the best email, because, you know.

The more you get to know me, the more you'll know I got my hands in several things, uh, several different companies. But probably the easiest is just Chris. So chris at drphelpshelps. com. Awesome.

Michael: So that's going to be in the show notes below. And Chris, I appreciate your time. And if anyone has further questions, you can definitely reach out to him there.

Um, or on the Dental Marketing Society Facebook group. And thank you for being with me on this Monday morning marketing episode. Thank

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