Author Topic: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?  (Read 13862 times)

TheThirstyStag

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Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« on: January 18, 2015, 11:45:23 AM »
I'm running a bit of an experiment in my household regarding dental expenses.  I have access to a dental plan through my employer that costs about $26 per person, per month with no employer contribution.  My SO has much better teeth than I do.  I decided to sign up for my employer dental plan and self-insure my SO with an equal monthly contribution to a savings account and see how much better I can do.  We both take 2 cleanings per year, with 1 bitewing x ray.  So far, I've built up a nice cushion if my SO ever needs a filling, and I think long term it will be a better thing to self insure.

Here's where it gets interesting:  The dentist's office convinced my SO to sign up for the DentRite discount plan, on the grounds that it basically pays for itself if you do regular cleanings.  It costs $30/year, and entails flat fees for routine things:  $30 for a cleaning, $10 for a checkup, and $20 for a bitewing x-ray.  So for 2 cleanings, 2 checkups, 1 x ray, and member fee, the annual bill came out to $130. 

Am I missing a catch here?  It seems like a cleaning can go for $70 or so without a plan, so DentRite pays for itself immediately.  They also provide a 20% discount on most heavier procedure, like fillings, etc.  Their pricing structure can be found here:

http://www.dentrite.com

What's the catch?  I'm pretty convinced it makes sense to self-insure for my SO, but I'm wondering if DentRite has anything hidden that I'm missing.   Has anyone used it before?

Furthermore, I can't ever seem to get solid numbers when comparing my dental expenses with what the dentist charges the insurance company (and what they settle on to pay).  My dentist likes to show "how much I saved", but it always seems outrageously inflated, especially when comparing the charge for their services to the healthcare bluebook.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 11:47:29 AM by TheThirstyStag »

Spondulix

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2015, 11:54:41 AM »
I used to be on a similar plan (Careington). What they don't tell you is that the dentist may have a different cost for insurance, dental plan, and paying by cash. The plan may say they will pay 100 percent, but the fine print is that it's probably 100% of some average price - so if you live in a high COL area where cleanings are more than what they consider "average", you may still pay out of pocket.

Careington was worth it while I didn't have any insurance. It definitely offset the cost of glasses and dental work (and the cost made up for it), but as a supplemental, it probably depends on the work/doctor.

fa

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2015, 11:57:44 AM »
DentRite seems to be like the teaser price for a sale item in a grocery store.  The point is to bring a patient in so that you can sell them other services.  It is in essence a marketing plan.  Having said that, if the dentist provides excellent care and you do noy accept the additional services that are offered, it may be a good deal. 

Then again, grocery stores sell items on sale at or below cost to bring people in the door.  It obviously works or they would not continue doing it.  At the end, most comsumers leave with more stuff than they planned to buy.  DentRite is a little like that.  I know from published data that dental offices often have profit margins in the 20-30% range, so a 20% discount eliminates almost all the profit on a procedure.  You can draw your own conclusions.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2015, 12:05:49 PM »
DentRite seems to be like the teaser price for a sale item in a grocery store.  The point is to bring a patient in so that you can sell them other services.  It is in essence a marketing plan.  Having said that, if the dentist provides excellent care and you do noy accept the additional services that are offered, it may be a good deal. 

Then again, grocery stores sell items on sale at or below cost to bring people in the door.  It obviously works or they would not continue doing it.  At the end, most comsumers leave with more stuff than they planned to buy.  DentRite is a little like that.  I know from published data that dental offices often have profit margins in the 20-30% range, so a 20% discount eliminates almost all the profit on a procedure.  You can draw your own conclusions.

Fascinating.  So are you saying that the dentist him/herself will tend to recommend more services if he/she knows that a patient is a dentrite member in order to make up for this lost margin?  Why do the dental offices push it in the first place, if they have to work hard to make up those margins?  I'm guessing they get a nice cut from dentrite?

I know we have a few dentists on these forums and would love to hear their thoughts. 

MrFrugalChicago

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2015, 02:10:12 PM »

Fascinating.  So are you saying that the dentist him/herself will tend to recommend more services if he/she knows that a patient is a dentrite member in order to make up for this lost margin?  Why do the dental offices push it in the first place, if they have to work hard to make up those margins?  I'm guessing they get a nice cut from dentrite?


Well many people do not go 2x a year for cleanings. If they are on a "plan" and they are already paid for in dental insurance premiums.. they will come more.

fa

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2015, 02:49:36 PM »
DentRite seems to be like the teaser price for a sale item in a grocery store.  The point is to bring a patient in so that you can sell them other services.  It is in essence a marketing plan.  Having said that, if the dentist provides excellent care and you do noy accept the additional services that are offered, it may be a good deal. 

Then again, grocery stores sell items on sale at or below cost to bring people in the door.  It obviously works or they would not continue doing it.  At the end, most comsumers leave with more stuff than they planned to buy.  DentRite is a little like that.  I know from published data that dental offices often have profit margins in the 20-30% range, so a 20% discount eliminates almost all the profit on a procedure.  You can draw your own conclusions.

Fascinating.  So are you saying that the dentist him/herself will tend to recommend more services if he/she knows that a patient is a dentrite member in order to make up for this lost margin?  Why do the dental offices push it in the first place, if they have to work hard to make up those margins?  I'm guessing they get a nice cut from dentrite?


Not necessarily.  It is just that any patient walking in represents a sales opportunity.  Just like the grocery store does not treat customers differently because they came on for an item on sale.  They want to sell as much as possible to every customer, no matter why they came in.

That of course applies to dental offices whose business model is sales based.  There are offices who treat patients to the best of their ability.  Those are health care providers as opposed to health care salesmen.  The health care industry overall is rapidly moving from "care" to "sales".  As a patient, your task used to be to decide if your provider was qualified.  Now your task is to decide whether you are being sold something you don't need or not.  Very different dynamic.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2015, 03:49:28 PM »
So am I to assume the following? 

The economic model of a plan like DentRite's is that it encourages people to regularly come to the dentist, which leads to long term profits.  However, to the uninsured person that will proactively get their cleanings/checkups biannually and be vigilant about denying unnecessary work, it will save them money.

I feel good about our dentist's office, as in 2 years they have not appeared to upsell anything and tend to be pretty conservative in treatment recommendations (based on prior diagnoses I've had in comparison). 

It feels weird to me to forgo my employer's plan and adopt a self-insurance model for my SO and pay everything out of pocket, only to turn around and sign up for a discount plan.  I guess it's worth it if we always do biannual checkups/cleanings.

I would still love to have a dentist on the boards chime in here and offer their opinions.   Thanks for everyone's thoughts.

Spondulix

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2015, 12:44:24 PM »
Fascinating.  So are you saying that the dentist him/herself will tend to recommend more services if he/she knows that a patient is a dentrite member in order to make up for this lost margin?  Why do the dental offices push it in the first place, if they have to work hard to make up those margins?  I'm guessing they get a nice cut from dentrite?

It is just that any patient walking in represents a sales opportunity.  Just like the grocery store does not treat customers differently because they came on for an item on sale.  They want to sell as much as possible to every customer, no matter why they came in.

That of course applies to dental offices whose business model is sales based.  There are offices who treat patients to the best of their ability.  Those are health care providers as opposed to health care salesmen.  The health care industry overall is rapidly moving from "care" to "sales".  As a patient, your task used to be to decide if your provider was qualified.  Now your task is to decide whether you are being sold something you don't need or not.  Very different dynamic.
Legally, a business has to be operating in good faith. If a dentist tells you to come back 4 times a year for cleanings, unnecessary fillings or services (but your teeth are fine), that is operating in bad faith.

Like I said before, where the dentists are making their money on these dental discounts is in pricing - inbetween cash and insurance prices. An honest dentist (working in good faith) will give you a quote on a service with all those options if you ask (with insurance, with dental plan, with both, or cash). The cost of keeping a client is much less than acquiring a new one, so it's in their interest to keep you around.

I needed a pricy root canal last year, which is how I even found out about dental plans. The office walked me through the prices with each. It was the office manager who offered to compare them, actually - she wanted to make sure that I was getting the best deal. One option was waiting to do it because I would have work insurance in a few months, and that's the option they recommended.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2015, 11:32:06 AM »
Like I said before, where the dentists are making their money on these dental discounts is in pricing - inbetween cash and insurance prices. An honest dentist (working in good faith) will give you a quote on a service with all those options if you ask (with insurance, with dental plan, with both, or cash). The cost of keeping a client is much less than acquiring a new one, so it's in their interest to keep you around.

That's what I'm not understanding though.  If my dentist is charging $70 for one cleaning/exam, cash price, but Dentrite costs $30 for the year and brings the cost of the cleaning + exam down to $40, then what's the catch?  According to these numbers, if you're going in for at least 1 cleaning each year, DentRite is a no-brainer. 

Are you saying that the cost of everything else is inflated when you're on DentRite, but the 20% discount brings it back down to "regular cash prices"?

Spondulix

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 12:24:26 AM »
Like I said before, where the dentists are making their money on these dental discounts is in pricing - inbetween cash and insurance prices. An honest dentist (working in good faith) will give you a quote on a service with all those options if you ask (with insurance, with dental plan, with both, or cash). The cost of keeping a client is much less than acquiring a new one, so it's in their interest to keep you around.

That's what I'm not understanding though.  If my dentist is charging $70 for one cleaning/exam, cash price, but Dentrite costs $30 for the year and brings the cost of the cleaning + exam down to $40, then what's the catch?  According to these numbers, if you're going in for at least 1 cleaning each year, DentRite is a no-brainer. 

Are you saying that the cost of everything else is inflated when you're on DentRite, but the 20% discount brings it back down to "regular cash prices"?
Exactly- I think they've done a good job at pricing these dental plans to get cash/non-insurance customers to continue coming in the door and paying for services when they otherwise might not. I'm sure cash clients are spotty with services because full price adds up fast (fillings, crowns, root canals, etc). So, it might be worth it to do a filling on a 30% discount, cause that person might otherwise wait a year to get it done. This is exactly how I found out about the discount plan - I needed a root canal, and the office said, "here's the cash cost, but if you join this plan..." it's making money for both the company and the dentist's office.

The catch is in the details, though. Plans don't cover every service, and some you have to be on for a year before getting a major service.
http://www.policygenius.com/blog/dental-insurance-vs-dental-discount-plans/

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 07:50:33 PM »
Like I said before, where the dentists are making their money on these dental discounts is in pricing - inbetween cash and insurance prices. An honest dentist (working in good faith) will give you a quote on a service with all those options if you ask (with insurance, with dental plan, with both, or cash). The cost of keeping a client is much less than acquiring a new one, so it's in their interest to keep you around.

That's what I'm not understanding though.  If my dentist is charging $70 for one cleaning/exam, cash price, but Dentrite costs $30 for the year and brings the cost of the cleaning + exam down to $40, then what's the catch?  According to these numbers, if you're going in for at least 1 cleaning each year, DentRite is a no-brainer. 

Are you saying that the cost of everything else is inflated when you're on DentRite, but the 20% discount brings it back down to "regular cash prices"?
Exactly- I think they've done a good job at pricing these dental plans to get cash/non-insurance customers to continue coming in the door and paying for services when they otherwise might not. I'm sure cash clients are spotty with services because full price adds up fast (fillings, crowns, root canals, etc). So, it might be worth it to do a filling on a 30% discount, cause that person might otherwise wait a year to get it done. This is exactly how I found out about the discount plan - I needed a root canal, and the office said, "here's the cash cost, but if you join this plan..." it's making money for both the company and the dentist's office.

The catch is in the details, though. Plans don't cover every service, and some you have to be on for a year before getting a major service.
http://www.policygenius.com/blog/dental-insurance-vs-dental-discount-plans/

I still haven't found the answer I'm looking for, even after reading through the link.  All the plans listed there are over $100/yr.  The DentRite one is $30/year, which pays for itself in one cleaning/checkup.  What's the catch?

Spondulix

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 12:09:13 AM »
I'm not sure what's not to get... it's like paying $30 for a $100 coupon for a cleaning. But maybe the cleaning is going to cost $150, and you'll have to pay $50 out of pocket. I'm sure there's a 3x price markup to begin with, so worst case they're still breaking even on their costs.

Either way, the plan is a no-brainer to me, if you have no insurance and need work done. I paid $50 with Careington and saved at least $200 the year I used it.

TheThirstyStag

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Re: Does anyone use DentRite Dental Discount Plan?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 09:10:12 AM »
But maybe the cleaning is going to cost $150

I don't think I was clear in my earlier posts.  My apologies.  They charge about $70 for a cleaning (cash price), which is on par with what the medical bluebook says is average for my zip code. 
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 09:16:27 AM by TheThirstyStag »