Addressing dental patient billing issues is a challenge for many dental practices. Improving collections and dealing with patients arguing about their out-of-pocket costs require understanding and empathy toward the patient.
Here are a few scenarios of a dental patient who has a problem with their bill and is unhappy. To deal with the patient, you and your team should feel prepared and confident to handle the situation and boost income while maintaining a good relationship.
When the patient feels their paying portion is more than the insurance company and the dental practice has overcharged them.
When it comes to expensive treatment, say for a crown, the patient visiting your dental practice, and after hearing their total out-of-pocket expense, a matter of disagreement arises, and they get angry. For instance, it is $1000, and their insurance company covers 50%, which is $500. They are unhappy and feel that their insurance company should cover 80% of the cost and become more reluctant to pay and think that the dental practice is overcharging them.
Bill collecting has never been easy, and resolving the matter requires the utmost ability to listen to your patients and then calmly remind them of the payment policy that clearly states the patient payment portion, irrespective of what the insurance policy covers.
Ideally, the dental practice team already has a conversation about the payment policy with the patient before the treatment. You can remind them of this conversation and explains to the patient the limits of the insurance benefits.
The best you can offer is a payment plan if affordability is the issue, and they can pay in installments as per their need. Before performing a high-cost procedure, give patients a signed copy of the payment policy, the estimated amount due, and your fee that states the patient’s financial responsibility disregarding the insurance coverage.
The patient did not know they owed money to the dental practice and received a bill in the mail.
Unexpected bills in the mail are unpleasant, and sometimes the dental practice has to send the billed more than they planned to pay. The additional cost upset the patient, and they wanted to know why their insurance did not cover it. They owed more money to the practice creating collection problems.
The inaccurate estimation can cause frustration in the patient. A kind apology can mellow down the situation. Assuming that the patient is wrong is not helpful. Try to make them understand the policy that says patients are responsible for the entire fee, irrespective of what the insurance covers.
Presenting patients with your payment options is the best strategy. Also, show them the EOB if they are still unhappy about the due balance. A prepayment policy is a proactive approach to avoid surprise bills.
The dental patient paid more, and now they owe a refund from the insurer.
The dental office calculated a higher estimation, and the patient realized that they spent more than they needed to, at the office. The dental practice is the one who should come to know that they owe the patient a refund. Let your patient know as early as possible that you found out first.
Let’s say the patient found out that the out-of-pocket estimate was high after the insurance payment plus the fee and now demands a refund.
Apologizing to the patient for the inaccurate estimate and offering the option for a refund is a good part. However, the dental office should refer to the same payment method the patient used at the time of payment. Check with your accountant to offer the best refund option and also with the financial services you use for the financing.
It is also necessary to ask the patient whether they want to keep the credit on their account for the upcoming dental visit or would like to go for a refund. Document the patient’s agreement to avoid any discrepancy. Keep a copy in the financial notes for the audits of unclaimed funds.
Complete understanding of a dental patient with billing issues can get challenging. Running the practice with consistent revenue is equally important while maintaining good patient relationships. To have a worry-free revenue collection system, you outsource or fully equip your dental practice and team to handle the billing issue of the patient.