The median household income in the United States has dropped considerably over the past few years, causing the middle class to have less disposable income to spend on needed dentistry than in the past. With factors such as this, in addition to the fact that 89% of doctors are still operating below full (100%) capacity, it’s more important than ever for dentists to increase treatment acceptance rates in their practice.
Research has indicated that the amount required to be paid up front and the monthly payments are the biggest factors to acceptance than the fee itself. Here are four strategies to making needed treatments more affordable:
- For patients who can pay 100% of the treatment fee immediately, quote a paid-in-full bookkeeping adjustment of 5% for cash/check and 3% for credit card. Quote the adjustment as a fixed dollar amount, rather than a percentage.
- Keep the upfront payment at $500 or less, primarily to evidence commitment. Requiring a large down payment is one of the biggest deterrents to treatment acceptance.
- The practice can allow the remaining balance to be paid in increments of $150-200 per month interest free until paid in full as long as the payment is made by either automatic credit card charge or bank draft. To prevent the practice from losses if the patient’s card is expired, closed or over the limit, require the patient to provide two accounts as sources for the auto draft as a backup.
- For larger treatments, over $6,000, consider outsourcing the financing to a third party. A discount rate charged of 6-10% of the fee will incur, but it may be worth it in exchange for receiving the full amount of the fee up front.
It’s common for patients to cancel treatments when they are unclear on costs and how to pay for them. The most critical aspect is getting a signed written agreement indicating when and how payment will be made. Be open to discussing financial tools and your patients will say “yes” to needed treatment.