Winning the War on Dental Insurance

Dr. Todd Snyder and Alex Nottingham JD MBA discuss the challenges of working with dental insurance companies. Dr. Snyder described his experience of having his hands tied due to the limited reimbursements the insurance companies offered for his services. He decided to open a practice that did not take insurance, allowing him to provide a higher quality of service without being restricted by reimbursement rates. Alex then shared his experience from his father’s dental office and how he eventually capitulated to taking insurance in order to make ends meet. They both agreed that there are dentists out there who have chosen to forgo insurance and make a living without compromising the quality of their work.

Highlights

[01:19] Winning the War on Dental Insurance
[01:45] Insurance Reimbursement and Cosmetic Dentistry
[03:53] Dentistry Insurance Plans
[06:17] Choosing Patients and Marketing Strategies
[07:32] Out-of-Network Insurance Benefits
[09:21] Breaking Free from the Status Quo
[10:31] Overcoming Fear and Taking Action
[11:53] Exposure Therapy and Dropping Insurance for Dentists
[14:03] Investing, Insurance, and Patient Education

Resources

About Todd Snyder

Dr. Todd Snyder DDS, FAACD, FIADFE, ASDA, ABAD. As a cosmetic dentist, author, international lecturer, researcher and instructor at various teaching facilities, Dr. Snyder offers a lot on many levels to not only his patients but also his colleagues around the world.

About Alex Nottingham JD MBA

Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.

Episode Transcript

Transcript performed by A.I. Please excuse the typos.

00:10 – 00:32
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Welcome to Dental Allstars. Our topic today, kind of borrowing the subheadline from Todd’s podcast is Winning the War and we’re going to be winning the war on dental insurance today. So, Doctor Todd Snyder, you’re a dentist, racecar driver, consultant. You do it all. Tell me a little bit about your journey in dentistry. Tell me.

00:32 – 00:51
Dr. Todd Snyder
You know, coming out of dental school, like anyone, I had, you know, a residency that I did, you know, some kind of additional training and then went to work for numerous different people over a period of, I don’t know, four or five years while I was running the graduate program at UCLA. And, you know, in doing so, you learn a lot about different businesses because let’s face it, every dental office is a unique and different business.

00:51 – 01:18
Dr. Todd Snyder
Although we’re all providing dentistry, they’re all uniquely different in how we perform in the systems we have and how we interact with our patients or customers or whatever you want to call them. And so for me, in seeing how much extra time and effort went into dealing with insurance companies and how many employees, you have to have to, you know, go look up someone’s insurance or follow up on insurance and all the headaches and hassles that that we as dentists know we have to, you know, deal with on a regular basis.

01:19 – 01:44
Dr. Todd Snyder
I said, you know what? I don’t like that aspect of the business. And I’m sure most dentists would agree that that’s probably one of the biggest pains or difficulties in their business. And from there, the other thing that I found in working for other people that were contracted with insurance is that, you know, my hands were tied as far as what I could do or what the insurance allowed and what they’d reimburse me for my time, effort and skill and for certain things that I like to do, which are more cosmetic based.

01:45 – 02:04
Dr. Todd Snyder
They obviously don’t cover things. You know, if it takes me 3 hours and they’re willing to pay me $75, you know, that doesn’t work. I’m exaggerating. But, you know, they pay peanuts. And so if you’re going to do a really good job for somebody that takes time and effort and potentially more overhead. And so I decided after seeing that, that that’s not what I wanted in my business.

02:04 – 02:30
Dr. Todd Snyder
And so when I opened my business back in 2020, 2021, when I opened that business, I said, I’m not going to take insurance, but I will certainly bill it on behalf of my patients. So they get their reimbursements, they get their money back. They feel good that they got their benefit. But I’m not beholden to anyone that’s telling me how to do my job and pay me peanuts for the time and effort I want to put into my my craft.

02:31 – 02:53
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Yeah. And I remember when I was younger and I mentioned a few times as many of you know, my, my father’s a dentist. And I remember when he started to take insurance, I didn’t understand what that was all about when I was a kid. But he was Pankey trained dentist fellow. EGD did it all, did high end cosmetic cases, and was the best in his community.

02:53 – 03:22
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
But he felt the pressure and he capitulated to taking dental insurance and that he always said, don’t be a dentist because you’re not going to get paid appropriately. And to my surprise, over the years, working at All Star Dental Academy and seeing that dentists there are dentists there out there that stood up and don’t take it. And many of our dentists now are getting off insurance that there’s another way.

03:23 – 03:37
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
It just remarkable to me that, you know, you saw it now you saw it from teaching. And having a broader perspective wasn’t just your experience. You heard from multiple sources what their experience was.

03:37 – 03:52
Dr. Todd Snyder
Well, that and still lecturing to this day, I hear the same thing. I was lectured in Portland yesterday and gentlemen to sit in my veneer class saying that, you know, I used to do veneers. I don’t do them anymore because for the time and effort that goes into it, the insurance doesn’t pay us enough because of the, you know, their capitated rate.

03:53 – 04:13
Dr. Todd Snyder
And I said, yeah, it’s pretty hard to high end cosmetics based on what they’re willing to pay you. And he says, that’s why I don’t really offer it. I don’t do many hits and I totally get where you’re at. But for the same token, you know, just about everyone inside of my Legion program is getting off insurance. And there, you know, the big fear is, oh, my gosh, I’m gonna lose all my patients and this is going to happen.

04:13 – 04:28
Dr. Todd Snyder
And doom and gloom. And then they find out like no patients are staying and things are better. I’m finally getting compensated, are not writing off, you know, $700,000 a year kind of thing. And so you hear all these success stories of everyone that was afraid to go out of network, and then they find it was far easier than they ever thought.

04:28 – 04:35
Dr. Todd Snyder
And they’re like, Why didn’t I do this 20 years ago? It’s like, exactly why didn’t you? But your fears and your comfort held you back.

04:35 – 04:54
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Yeah, and I want to get to that. And gosh, I wish I knew what I do now. And I can tell my father back then how fortunately I had a chance to take my father’s business double as business. He did quite well. And he and at that time when we were growing his business, we didn’t we got self-paced.

04:54 – 05:17
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
We got people didn’t care about insurance. They wanted the top notch stuff that insurance wouldn’t cover anyway. It’s just enlightening and seen as nice. I mean, as insurance companies continue to gain market share, you’re seeing at the same side that dentistry is responding and they’re saying, wait a second, we have a say which is really nice. And I love how you’re a fellow of ACD, correct?

05:18 – 05:37
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Yeah. And multiple organizations. And you lecture there and you see on the ground floor what’s happening. So let’s go back to that. And this was my next question. You’re reading my questions, Todd. Stop it. Okay. And what I want to know is about that. You’re saying why are dentists on so many plans? What’s happening?

05:38 – 05:54
Dr. Todd Snyder
You know, I can’t speak for all of them. I assume people are on it thinking that the more insurance plans they’re on, the more people that can come to their office that their perception may be. And I’m generalizing, but the perception may be, well, people won’t come to me if I don’t accept their insurance. And I’m here to tell you that’s not true.

05:55 – 06:17
Dr. Todd Snyder
You know, because I would say 60% of my patients don’t even have insurance. Right. And they’re willing to come to me right. And the 40% that do have insurance. Well, they chose to come to me also. So why does one choose versus the other choose? They’re making a choice because they didn’t like something where they were at previously and they’re willing to pay for something they want that they perceive as being better.

06:17 – 06:41
Dr. Todd Snyder
The same as you and I may go to different stores to shop and buy different clothes or shoes or jewelry. We all pay for different things based on the perception of the value and quality we derive for ourselves. And so if you can position that in your marketing or your your communication with a patient, that you provide something potentially different and they value that and are willing to pay for that, then people will come to you.

06:41 – 07:01
Dr. Todd Snyder
And so that’s where I think oftentimes dentists focus much on the dentistry and just look at the patients. They only want what insurance covers and so I’m just going to offer everything to everyone that’s on insurance. And in doing so, that’s fine. I consider to be like a Costco or Wal Mart. You’re doing everything for everyone at a lower price point and that can be fine.

07:01 – 07:05
Dr. Todd Snyder
But you’re going to be running on that treadmill seven days a week trying to make you nuts.

07:05 – 07:32
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
From a marketing perspective. Right. It’s often they’ll say, okay, it’s a marketing expense. And what some will say is, well, just get on them and then you can get off them, right? But if you go down into it and you look, what marketing program will you pay 40% of the revenue? You would never take a marketing plan like that.

07:32 – 08:09
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
You’re supposed to spend about 5%. What’s remarkable, what we find with when we do the analysis, you really get very few patients when it comes to POS, you get very few from them directly from them. It’s more like you’re serving people that call and they say, Yeah, we accept your insurance. And what’s remarkable is, well, what you’re explaining is many plans allow you to be at a network so you still can help the patient with that benefit, but you can charge your fees.

08:28 – 08:32
Dr. Todd Snyder
Exactly. Well, the other interesting thing is I can’t speak to all insurance, but the majority of insurance I’ve ever seen pays me higher as an out-of-network dentist than being in-network. Which becomes interesting because most people think, wait, wait, you’re paid more. Like, yeah, I’m amazed how many dentists don’t know that, you know? And so in my mind it’s like, okay, well, if you dropped insurance and you lost 50% of your patients, but your fees went up, let’s say 25, 30%, 40%, whatever it is you write, off you go, well, so I can lose half my patients, but my pay stays almost the same.

08:32 – 08:47
Dr. Todd Snyder
And now I’m spending more time with family and friends, and I have freedom to enjoy life. And so you look at that go, wow, there’s a huge upside to that. And so and that’s if you worst case scenario loss 50% I imagine if people love you and come to you and appreciate you 50% aren’t leaving.

08:47 – 08:53
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Typically it’s 10%. So you’re netting 40 out of this deal plus.

08:53 – 08:54
Dr. Todd Snyder
Right.

08:55 – 09:20
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Totally makes sense. Now often and I’ve heard you in your lectures, you talk about the box that you create for yourself. And I know a lot of dentists are again, many of you are engineer like not everyone is special like Utah that has that business speaking capability and can see pick on you. But we’re often told what to do and when we’re in school for so long, this is how you do it.

09:21 – 09:43
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
And it just this is the status quo that you’re going to take insurance. They control the marketplace choice. And it almost is like, you know, I just have to capitulate, right? Whether it’s take insurance or work for a large corporate provider and this is going to be my life. Right. But what I what’s nice about the messaging we’re talking here is that you really do have a choice.

09:44:27 – 09:52
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
So what do you say to people? What do you say to dentists that are on that treadmill? They’re kind of snapping out of it.

09:54 – 10:10
Dr. Todd Snyder
Well, you know, there’s a lot of different conversations that happen on that. But, you know, basically the first thing is in talking to a dentist, you know, what are you happy about right now in your business? You know, most them don’t have a lot to say in them. I find one or two things that’s like, yeah, there’s not much.

10:10 – 10:30
Dr. Todd Snyder
Okay, now tell me what you dislike. And they’ll list a slew of things like, I don’t like this insurance thing and like that thing, like I have to work too hard. My employer is like they start to complain about so many things and you go, okay, let’s pick one of those. And so when you talk about, okay, this one problem, in this case, reform of insurance, if we were to eliminate that one problem, how would you feel like, oh, my God, things would be amazing.

10:31 – 10:58
Dr. Todd Snyder
Okay, if they’re amazing, why don’t you do something? And the next thing on their mouth is always fear or comfort, like, well, I might lose all my business and my livelihood. And I’ve been doing this too long and I can’t go backwards. And so they create all these excuses and fears and stories. And so when you expose them to and say, okay, so, so you want out, but what you’re telling me is that you don’t have the, you know, capacity to look fear in the face and say, no, I’m in charge.

10:58 – 11:20
Dr. Todd Snyder
I’m changing things. I’m breaking down these walls and I’m going through. And we know fear is wrong. 90% of the time it’s false. It’s your body trying to keep you comfortable and safe. And so once you start to see that and someone’s pushing you and you start to make little strides, like you drop one insurance plan, the smallest one you had, and you go, wow, one person left, and now I’m making more money with that simple decision.

11:20 – 11:40
Dr. Todd Snyder
And you go, Oh my gosh, the fear instantly starts to fade away. And you go, Okay, now I feel stronger and more powerful and I’m going to start to drop more of them. And you get this momentum and this mental fortitude building up and this this kind of newfound enthusiasm. Like, I finally get that freedom I’ve been wanting and I haven’t done anything.

11:40 – 11:53
Dr. Todd Snyder
And that momentum grows and builds. And the next thing you know, nine months later, you’re like, I should have done this 20 years ago. And all it took was someone to light a fire under you and show you and give you a little tiny push fear.

11:53 – 12:19
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
You have to face it. And what you’re talking about is exposure therapy, essentially, little by little. Often we think this big, bad bear we have to go right at it. You can take little chunks at it and it’s very important that you’re coached and you have a proper support system to help you through it, because when you realize you’re not alone, that others have done it and it’s a workable model, we then do it slowly because there is a risk.

12:20 – 12:34
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
There are some dentists out there that are very cavalier and I’m like, sick of it. That’s often what happens. I’m sick of it. I’m getting off the insurance. I’ve known some dentists that have done that, that have been reported to me, and they went bankrupt.

12:34 – 12:36
Dr. Todd Snyder
Yeah, they did it incorrectly and.

12:36 – 13
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
They did it incorrectly. And so it’s very important. There are some steps you have to take. You have to prepare, do the analysis, what insurances are hurting me the most. And like Todd said, you incrementally remove them and there’s a process for it and you have to train properly your team to then be able to execute it. I’m going to give an example of a big mistake that happened.

13:14 – 13:02
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
But Todd, you wanted to say something?

13:02 – 13:27
Dr. Todd Snyder
No, I didn’t say. Yeah, definitely. Because the number one thing is training your employees, which we know 90 something percent and your research shows it. What is it, 98, 99% don’t train their staff. So if you’re thinking you’re going to drop insurance, you better get trained before you do so. But I’ll take it a step further. I think the same as if it was your mother or brother or wife or whomever, and you’re going to do something that is significant in their mind.

13:27 – 13:45
Dr. Todd Snyder
You want to have a conversation before you do it. And so then that could be, you know, simply sending out letters in the mail. But that’s not a personal enough, I would say, talking to each person over time, whether it’s a phone call, you know, or a text message saying he’d like to talk to you and let’s set up a phone call and say, wow, I’ve got so many patients.

13:45 – 14:02
Dr. Todd Snyder
This can take a long time. It will, but it’s going to pay huge dividends when it’s all said and done. But most people are too afraid or too busy to do these things. And so for me, everything I do is what would everyone not do? Hey, that’s what I’m doing. I do the opposite. What other people do.

14:03 – 14:25
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
You’re right. It it’s the same thing with investing. If you invest what everybody else is investing, you will get what everybody else gets. So you want to do it. People aren’t doing. Now, what you’re speaking about is very important. And part of the reason that dentists you know, a lot of dentists, they’re not confrontational. They don’t want to have that.

14:25 – 14:49
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
They’re approval addicted and they don’t want to hear. No. And they don’t want to have that problem. So either they stay on insurance or they’ll just say to send a letter, because if they don’t send the letter, the insurance provider will once you get off and they’re going to run because what they’re what’s it’s saying essentially is we can’t see you here and you have to have a conversation that we absolutely can see you’re here.

14:49 – 15:14
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
We will still work through the benefit. Nothing changes. You have to have that conversation. And that conversation will also build more rapport with the patient. You can use it as an opportunity to provide more treatment. So there’s a way to do it. And Todd is exactly right on the method to be able to to go. Now, give you an example that even besides all of that, there are there’s a structural process of getting off insurance.

15:14 – 15:44
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
There’s a plan. And that’s why we talk about this preparation stage before you get to execution and then maintenance. Now, there was a case that a team member and we have this recorded, they pick up the phone and basically they got off this insurance plan. They did it the right way, but they didn’t train the front end. The patient says you take whatever insurance, X-Y-Z insurance and they want to they get all this cosmetic work done they wanted to do.

15:44 – 16:10
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
It was a 40,000 potential case. They said, no, we don’t take your insurance. Click, click now. Hey, there wasn’t any education about the fact that this plan was an ad, a network plan that paid you appropriately and B, most of it wasn’t covered in terms of the cosmetic work. So had that conversation gone because they weren’t trained. And so this has to be strategic.

16:10 – 16:33
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
And what a lot of dentists and a lot of failed business people do is they’re not strategic, they’re tactical. How can I make this booboo go away without being diligent and having the right coaching around them or what’s the cheapest way of doing it? I’m going to listen to Todd and Alex on a 20 minute podcast, and now I’m enlightened and I know exactly what to do.

16:33 – 16:54
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
I’m pulling the trigger tomorrow, you know? So remember, Todd, this podcast, we got to keep it G-rated or PG rated, so we have a few words for that. But come on, don’t be silly. There’s a process. Do your due diligence, have the best people around you. So that’s my thing.

16:54 – 16:57
Dr. Todd Snyder
That’s why my podcast is called Delusional and yeah.

16:57 – 17:01
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
And you have a big you have an E on A you’re allowed to curse in your podcast. We often think.

17:01 – 17:04
Dr. Todd Snyder
They do it like once or twice here and there, and they’re tame words.

17:06 – 17:33
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Okay. So what I like to also talk about is that you do have some help when it comes to this. Both Todd and I, our programs can help you get off insurance. Just a quick thing. We have a free webinar that we launched. It’s all star dental academy dot com slash freedom it’s how to get off insurance we talk about that to break free from insurance dependence and also dental economy.com slash freedom.

17:33 – 17:54
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
I put the link in the show notes and we go through three stages preparation, execution and then maintenance or optimization. We call it. And we go through in more details, 90 minutes on how to get off insurance safely. Todd, thank you so much for helping us win the war on dental insurance.

17:55 – 17:57
Dr. Todd Snyder
Thank you, Alex. Appreciate it.

17:57 – 18:19
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Make sure you follow us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and the great benefit of following us is immediately when these episodes come out, you get them right to your phone as well as you help us get in front of all of your dental friends and share these podcast with your friends. We do this to help everybody and to make a difference in dentistry.

18:20 – 18:28
Alex Nottingham JD MBA
So I really appreciate you being on the show. And until next time, go out there and be an all star.

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