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Inside Dentistry
October 2022
Volume 18, Issue 10

Have Cost Conversations Changed?

Effective cost conversations are more important than ever

Almost everyone is being impacted to varying degrees by rising costs and inflation. The July 2022 Consumer Price Index (CPI), published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, recently released data that found that before seasonal adjustment from July 2021 to July 2022:

· The all items index increased 8.5%.1

· The energy index increased 32.9% and the food index increased 10.9%, pushed by the food at home index increase of 13.1%.1

· The shelter index, or housing, increased 5.7%.1

· Medical care services increased 5.1% and dental services 4.1%.1

With the topic of cost in the news and on many people's minds, it may be more important than ever that your team is equipped to have effective cost conversations, especially when you consider that 48% of insured and 65% of uninsured people surveyed indicated they passed on dental care due to financial reasons.2

Navigation of the cost and payment conversation needs to take the economic environment into consideration. It is important to understand that patients' financial situations may have changed, and those who previously may have immediately accepted your care recommendations and returned faithfully for preventive care may now hesitate to make an appointment. Similarly, those who always paid with a general-purpose credit card may now want to reserve those for their household expenses.

Although the basics haven't changed, here are some tips that can help your team have great financial conversations.

· Proactively acknowledge the changing financial environment and let patients know that your practice is working hard to contain costs so they can achieve and maintain their oral health.

· Empathize with patients. Let patients know that other patients have shared with you their concerns over rising costs of necessities and household items, and should they also have concerns, you are there to help and have payment options to support them and their dental health needs. Then, listen closely for cues that they may be more concerned with the cost of dentistry than they have been in the past.

· Try to ease cost concerns early in the patient experience. When patients call to set an appointment, or you are doing outbound recall, simply mention you have payment solutions available should they be interested in reserving their general-purpose credit cards for household expenses. Many patients today expect to have payment options.

· It can be helpful to have links on your website that enable patients to see if they prequalify for the CareCredit credit card with no impact to their credit bureau score, so they can be prepared before their appointment.

· During the treatment recommendations, be sure patients clearly understand the value of the dentistry for which you are advocating. No matter what their financial situation is, patients won't pay for what they don't value.

· Make financing friendly and accessible. Patients can see if they prequalify for the CareCredit credit card without it affecting their credit bureau score.

· Make financing easy. Patients want an easy and private way to learn about and apply for credit. With the custom link and familiar QR code, they simply scan using their smart device to learn about and apply for CareCredit.

· Most importantly, proactively communicate all payment options upfront. Don't assume patients don't want or need a financing solution. And don't make people ask for financial help because many won't; they may just leave the practice to "think about" the care you've recommended.

When you put patients' needs at the center of the conversation and are open and proactively communicative about cost and payment options, the financial conversation can be comfortable for your team and patients.


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Consumer price index - August 2022. BLS Economic News Releases website. Published September 13, 2022. Accessed September 30, 2022.

2. Black ML. Nearly half of insured Americans skip dental visits, procedures due to cost. ValuePenguin website. Updated November 29, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2022.

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