Top 6 Ways to Finance Dental Implant Cases and Skyrocket Your Case Acceptance
Getting consultations with patients is one thing. Getting them to commit to high-ticket treatments like complex smile makeovers complete with dental implants, bone grafting, and full-arch replacements is another. That’s where anticipating—and overcoming—sticker shock comes into play. And perhaps implementing a little knowledge of basic human psychology, too.
For instance, upon seeing a projected cost for treatments that’s $30,000, $40,000, or more, many patients immediately withdraw. “It’s too expensive. I can’t afford this. Besides, I never spend this much money on myself.” Or, they shut down their hopes of paying for anything by catastrophizing: “Even if I applied for financing, I might not be approved.”
These barriers stop many practices in their tracks and keep them from growing. But how do you encourage people to see the positives and make them realize that what seems like a large amount may not be as daunting as it looks on paper? The answer is to know the main sources of funding available to patients. That way, you can help your patients cobble together a payment structure that works for their budgets and allows you to increase your case acceptance rates.
Below are some of the more common types of financing available to patients. All can be excellent choices in the right circumstances.
1. Cash or Investments
As the saying goes, “Cash is king.” This remains as true today as when it was coined. True, patients might not have enough cash to entirely cover a treatment. That’s fine. They don’t have to. Plenty have something in their savings that they can use as at least a down payment. Prepare to show flexibility when it comes to down payment amounts. People aren’t always aware that you’re willing to work with them. Also, make it clear that although you accept cash, you don’t need them to pay for everything using cash. Again, you have to drive the conversation and help them see that cash is just one vehicle that can get them closer to a healthier smile.
In addition to cash, flexible savings accounts and related investments can be excellent ways to finance procedures. Companies offer flexible spending accounts, such as health savings accounts, to their employees from time to time, depending upon the employer. Some people also have their own flexible spending accounts set up as well. Always ask patients if this is something they could tap into.
2. Secured Loans
By far, working with a lender is one of the more popular ways of paying for dental treatments. Borrowing money isn’t difficult.. Nevertheless, your patients may need your assistance in determining what kind of loan makes sense for their situation. For instance, would a secured or unsecured loan work best?
Secured loans are backed by an asset or equity, such as a home, vehicle, or investment. For example, lines of credit are a type of secured loan. So are life insurance loans. The interest rates on secured loans are frequently lower than those of unsecured loans, which makes them even more appealing to patients who want to pay less out of pocket in the long run to get their treatments.
3. Unsecured Loans
Unsecured loans, usually offered by credit cards but sometimes available through banks and credit unions as “signature” loans, aren’t backed by any kind of security item. They’re usually offered by credit cards but sometimes available through banks and credit unions. You may even want to offer internal financing through your practice, which will fall in the unsecured category. Some dentists aren’t interested in getting into the business of offering financing themselves. Yet it’s not completely unheard of. If you’re considering going this route, you still might want to work with a third-party company to help set everything up.
Generally speaking, you’ll want patients who take out unsecured loans to have decent credit scores. Those who don’t can often still get credit, but they’ll be approved for lower total amounts and frequently have higher interest rates.
4. Insurance Coverage
Dental and medical insurance packages can be a bit tricky. Usually, all the parts of a procedure won’t be covered. Nonetheless, some pieces of a treatment may be, like bone grafting if it qualifies under a major medical policy. So is it worthwhile to go through the paperwork and try to see if some procedures will be covered by a patient’s dental or medical insurance? That’s up to you. Spend the time figuring out if it’s worth your effort to offer this option to patients.
5. Hidden Resources
One method of financing dental procedures is to make use of hidden resources. These aren’t actually “hidden,” per se, but they’re not something patients may think of on their own. Consider this: Your patients may be able to write off up to 50% of their treatment cost during a calendar year as a deductible medical expense. This allows them to see a tax benefit that could wind up reducing their tax burden or even put them in a different tax bracket. (As a side note, patients appreciate knowing the government is covering part of their treatment!)
Another hidden resource is an IRA or other retirement plan. Taking out money early may not be necessary, either, depending upon the age of your patient and their choices.
6. Other Support
How about the patients who don’t have good credit and are in the subprime category and can’t snag enough secured or unsecured loans to cover the full cost of treatment? They’re not out of the game. Remind them that a family member or trustworthy friend with a better credit score could be a co-borrower. Getting a co-signer on a loan can mean the difference between hearing “yes” versus “no” from a lender.
Patients may also want to sell unneeded assets, such as a vacation cabin they never visit or a vehicle they rarely drive. Some even seek out community support through community crowdsourcing to raise money that they can use to cover all or part of their treatment.
Our Tips to Help Any Practice Move Toward Proactive Closing
The largest, most successful practices that routinely do big, full-arch cases consistently have mastered the skill of closing deals after consultation. If you’d like to join them, keep these strategies in mind:
- Develop a funding sheet that outlines all the financing vehicles as listed above. Get partners where applicable, such as working with financing partners for loans. The more information you have at your fingertips, the easier you can overcome the barriers to acceptance and improve your conversion rates.
- Choose your treatment coordinator thoughtfully. Some coordinators don’t want to work with money issues. Others feel like asking them to pull money from savings or take out loans puts them in a moral dilemma. Ideally, your treatment coordinator should appreciate that you’re trying to get patients to improve their lives. You need the right person in that seat who’s going to highlight all the benefits of getting treatment.
- Offer to see if your patient can qualify for financing. Wouldn’t it be great if you could say, “Let’s see if you qualify for any type of lending, just in case,” and receive an answer digitally right away? You can. You just have to work with a third-party financer that will allow you to get instant approval through their portal. This takes the burden off the patient to do it themselves.
- Compliment patients for being smart money stewards. When you find out a patient is eligible to borrow large amounts due to their clean credit history, compliment them. People don’t realize what a big deal it is to be smart money managers. By honoring them upfront, you alleviate their financial fears that they might be making a mistake.
- Make “Yes, you can afford this,” part of your vocabulary. Be empathetic and a good listener, but don’t let a patient’s negativity blind you. With your knowledge of the many finance vehicles available, you can work with patients to structure personalized financing plans that are doable. For instance, you can show how a $20,000 procedure can be broken into bite-sized payments smaller than they might expect with a car loan. This refocuses the patient’s view.
- Get financial training for your office personnel. In addition to your treatment coordinator, consider training everyone in your office about patient financing. Patients will frequently ask people other than the treatment coordinator for advice or ideas. While you don’t want your staff to try to close deals, you do want them to be knowledgeable about financing choices.
If growth over the coming years is a business plan goal for your practice, you don’t have to bring aboard new personnel. Often, the solution lies in helping patients break through their misconceptions about funding their procedures. Imagine if you could convert 10%, 20%, or even 50% more people than you do today just by quelling their money concerns. You’d improve your revenue—and improve countless lives.
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