Whether you are a new practitioner or are well along your dental practice lifecycle, if you’re currently working with one or more PPO plans, and are looking forward to the day when you will become 100% fee for service, congratulations!
The First Step to Successfully Resign from PPO Plans
Committing to a date by which you will be PPO-free is the first essential step. The next step is creating and practicing a verbal and written patient communications plan. The final step is sharing that plan with your patients as you notify the plans of your decision.
You already know that the key to communicating persuasively is demonstrating to the listener why, how, and when he or she will benefit from the proposed change.
Your decision to drop a PPO plan may have a financial element to it, but the reality is you are also making that choice to free you up to practice dentistry in a way that is consistent with your Standard of Care; to act in your patients’ best interests.
This is the KEY POINT you need to convey to your patients. Explain to them that your decision is about being able to deliver the best care possible by being free to collaborate with them in deciding what is in their best interests.
I repeat. To successfully communicate your decision in a way that is accepted by patients, you need to carefully craft, practice, and deliver a written and verbal Patient Communication Plan.
A sample letter to your Patients
The letter you craft about dropping your PPO plan might look something like this:
We are writing to inform you of a change in our insurance network here at Practice Name.
As of DATE, YEAR, our status with XYZ PPO will change. Although we will still accept XYZ PPO, we will no longer be what is termed an in-network provider.
This decision has come as a result of our desire to put your care ahead of XYZ’s philosophy concerning patient care. Regrettably, things have changed to the degree where I am considered a “vendor” to them and not a doctor. Consequently, as an in-network doctor, I am forced to treat you, my valued patient, according to their rules, rather than according to your needs, or even how you would want to be treated.
To be clear, we still accept XYZ PPO and are happy to have you continue to keep you as our patient. The change on your end is that you may be subject to slightly different rates for your portion of care.
We have researched this carefully in arriving at our decision and are confident any additional financial responsibility is small compared to the freedom and significantly increased benefits this change affords you, our valued patient.
To help you navigate this change, we are happy to perform a complimentary benefits check for you to demonstrate the effect this change in network status will have.
If you have additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We appreciate you entrusting us with your healthcare needs and look forward to continuing to help you for many years to come.
What to say to patients when dropping your PPO plan
In your verbal communications with patients, you want to underscore how your decision will benefit them, so be sure to explain clearly that your decision is based on being able to restore the ability to prescribe optimal care without interference from an outside entity, whose interest is maximizing their profit, not delivering optimal treatment.
Start with a statement like:
“Patient Name, I wanted to make you aware of a change in our working relationship with XYZ Plan. Our decision is based on the fact that their interest has become so misaligned with yours that we can no longer be what is termed an in-network provider. While, in many cases, there is no financial impact, in others there may be, but rest assured that, in every case, we will explore the most conservative treatment option while remaining committed to prevention to avoid expense and discomfort.”
If you offer an in-house dental plan, now is a great time to present, or remind your patient, about it.
This is also a good time to convey to your patients all the extra lengths you went to, without reimbursement, to ensure their safety and comfort during the Covid Outbreak, and any other ‘extras’ you offer your patients that further demonstrate your commitment to their health and wellbeing.
Retain your dental PPO patients with good communication
Be sure to communicate with patients during their re-care visit preceding the planned change, then send written and emailed letters confirming the change. In this way, you minimize any ‘surprises,’ which makes it far simpler to manage the change.
As with everything else, practice makes perfect. Share your proposed letter with your Team and family members, then ask them how the letter makes them feel. You’re going for descriptors like trusting, cared for, heard, understood, and appreciated. Next, perform role plays with your team to give them plenty of opportunities to rehearse communications with real patients.
By establishing a date for ending PPO plan dependence, crafting your verbal and written patient communication plan, then practicing that plan, your shift from PPO to fee for service dentistry will be a smooth one. The ‘secret’ is to get started!