by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Who knew going to the dentist could be an experience? Check out this story about a dentist on wheels that’s targeting Millennials — not folks who are living on the margins and little access to dental care. Evidently Millennials don’t want to drive to the dentist. Hmm. I don’t understand it, but I love the fact the savvy innovators have found the need and are filling it.
Framed as an “aspirational” brand intent on disrupting the dental industry, the startup Lydian Dental offers a concierge healthcare model in which users pay a fixed monthly subscription fee that covers a range of services if needed. Founded in 2014 by dentists Josh Turnbull and Scott Connell, together with Harvard Business School graduate Clayton Nylander, Lydian is like the Oscar of dental insurance: a more user-friendly alternative with a cooler image (down to an eerily similar combination of cobalt-blue hues and spot illustrations, to boot.) The catch? So far, subscribers can only go to Lydian’s four clinics in Arizona and Texas, with two more underway. Yet for those based in either region, a comprehensive branding of the entire experience, led by the design firm Rapt Studio, makes that feel more like a special perk than a caveat.
Monthly fee that covers a range of services? Sounds likes the medical model known as Direct Primary Care.
DPC is a health care business model that removes insurance companies from basic primary care. Patients pay a monthly fee averaging $75 and, in exchange, they have unrestricted access to their physician and unlimited access to a defined package of services. In most cases, primary care physicians are available around the clock, whether that’s in person or by phone, text, or email. DPC is also being used by Union County, North Carolina government, which has experienced savings in medical claims without sacrificing quality care. Restrepo urges state lawmakers to consider so-called “clarifying legislation.” Seventeen states have enacted this type of legislation that specifically defines DPC as not acting as insurance.
Innovation and competition. Consumers win every time a risk-taker invests in a new idea for which there is a market.