Recent surveys show that approximately 23% of Americans and two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries don’t have dental insurance. For those patients, the cost of any dentist’s office visit — whether it’s for a simple cleaning or a more advanced procedure like an implant — needs to be paid out of pocket.
That’s a huge barrier to getting care.
However, even those with insurance struggle to afford dental care. The ADA surveyed Americans to understand the top reasons why patients don’t go to the dentist regularly, and 40% of adults indicated they don’t get the dental care they need due to cost, regardless of insurance coverage.
There’s a lot of opportunity for growth sitting on the table for the dental industry if money wasn’t such a huge patient barrier. There is a large pool of patients who need dental treatment if they had the means to pay for it. So how can you help your patients afford the care they need when insurance doesn’t cover it?
Let’s compare some dental financing options:
Some dental offices partner with medical credit card providers. Then, if a patient needs help paying for a dental procedure, they have the option to apply for a line of credit. These work similarly to a regular credit card, but they’re restricted to healthcare transactions (much like an FSA or HSA).
While this option can help patients pay off the cost of the procedure over time, approval is dependent on their credit score. If they have bad credit or little to no credit history, it’s more difficult for the lender to determine the chance that they will default. Therefore, there’s no guarantee that your patient will qualify. Even if they do, the interest costs associated with paying down the balance over time might be prohibitive.
Patients can also pay for the cost of their dental treatment through personal loans. These loans are often unsecured, which means that the patient does not have to put up any collateral for the lender to secure the loan. For that reason, the patient’s credit history will likely be the determining factor for this financing option as well.
If a patient with a low credit score applies for a personal loan, they may be denied. Even if they’re approved, the low credit score will likely result in a high interest rate, making it a less attractive option.
Some dental offices give their patients the ability to apply for payment plans, made possible via third-party lenders.
With this option, your practice can treat more uninsured patients. However, it also comes with the added burden of managing the loans, which usually requires the oversight of an internal finance department.
Even when your internal finance department does a great job, keeping up with back payments is highly resource-intensive. Independent practices will often launch their own payment plans only to realize that the costs of tracking payments, chasing delinquent borrowers, and mitigating loss prevent it from paying off in the long run.
Flexible Pay-Over-Time Plans
Pay-over-time providers like HFD can enable your practice to offer financing while minimizing the administrative burden associated with in-house lending.
Unlike the other options listed, HFD looks beyond the patient’s credit score — they leverage a unique, data-driven risk assessment to determine the likelihood of a patient defaulting, based on data collected from thousands of patients. This assessment allows them to set the appropriate interest rates and down payments on the plan.
The best part? As the provider, you keep the interest.
You don’t have to spend time and energy chasing down payments, either. HFD auto-debits the payments from patient accounts, so neither you nor your patients have to worry about forgotten payments. It’s an easy, cost-effective way to treat more patients and earn more revenue.
Learn more about payment options for dental offices in our new ebook!