Setting Prices for Dental Care
Many dental practices set the prices of their treatments and services differently. Patients need dental care, “but they avoid treatment due to cost or fear of cost” (Monahan 2017). While patients consider the prices of the dental practices, they also consider the quality of dental care. Clinics need to price their treatments and services, considering not only their own expenses, but also their effect on patients.
Despite the fear of costs, dental practices should not fear having high fees as long as patients are aware of them. Dave Monahan, “President and CEO of Kleer,” states, “In our focus groups and interviews, consumers overestimated the cost of care by 200-500%” (2017). He also states, “Our research shows that 50 percent of uninsured consumers are interested in purchasing more dental care services, but assume they cannot afford it” (2017). When Monahan and his team showed people costs “based on a dentist offering services directly to the [sic] them, the consumers were very surprised and showed great interest in making a purchase” (Monahan 2017). For dentists that show their prices to their patients, “[they] will not only get more patients and have existing patients accept more treatment, but they will receive higher fees relative to the insurance plans they currently accept” (Monahan 2017).
While high fees benefit practices, clinics should set them at acceptable levels. Low fees could cause patients to view the practice as subpar and “not perceive [the clinic] as professional in the long run since [it doesn’t] upgrade [its] services by investing in new technology or continuing education” (McKenzie 2011; Yiannikos 2013). To set their prices, clinics should take into account the prices of treatments and services of other clinics in their area, “overhead, expenses, patient base, individual level of professional expertise, and debt,” the “specific production goals based on the number of days per week you will see patients, and the number of hours you will spend on treatment,” and the economic state of their area (McKenzie 2011; 2014). They should also ensure their services’ prices are balanced, instead of “[setting] fees too low for some services and too high for others” (McKenzie 2014). Sally McKenzie, “CEO of McKenzie Management,” also states, “Don’t trap yourself by attempting to establish your office fee schedule based on what some third-party payer reimburses at 65% of the 85th percentile” (2014). Some patients may bristle at high prices, but staff members could assure them that their “‘fees reflect the quality of work [they] do’” (Watterson 2015). Fee-for-service practices should emphasize their dental care’s value and establish their ability to effectively care for their patients’ oral health through marketing, showing “personal achievements and meaningful awards,” “[promoting] care and compassion,” showing passion for the job, etc. (Lotardo 2016; Yiannikos 2013).
Patients need dental treatments and services. Knowing the clinics’ fees may persuade them to undergo treatments. Clinics should take care to establish the price of their dental care for their patient base, without setting them too low.