Dental Patient Refund Letters: Step 1
Run Your Reports
Send dental patient refund letters with every patient refund check. Even when you are sending a check back to a patient who has requested an over payment. I’m talking about a refund due to over-payment of services. (Not a refund requested from an unsatisfied dental patient). A quick letter will provide explanation and reassurance to your patient. It will improve your overall customer service. And a refund letter also reduces the amount of phone calls coming into the dental office.
Running monthly credit balance reports are essential. Designate a specific date and time to run your credit balance report. In my e-book, Weekly Management Systems, I designate the last Tuesday of each month. It doesn’t have to be this day for you. But it’s best to pick a date and make it part of your routine. Perform this audit each and every month on the same day of the month. That way it won’t ever be forgotten.
Patient credit balance reports are extremely important to run each month! I’ve seen a few nightmares become reality when this hasn’t happened. If you are practice owner or practice manager, you want to see this report every month. There may be things hidden in this report you need to know. You certainly don’t want to end up with a credit balance report for the practice of $20,000. I’ve seen it happen!
The credit balance report will show you many things. For example, if patient co-pays are frequently miscalculated, you will find that here. Sometimes patient adjustments might be incorrect. You can even find patients who might have paid for dental treatment in advance and haven’t returned for treatment.
Dental Patients Refund Letters: Step 2
Individual Account Audits
Dental patient refund checks should never go out without a thorough audit. The last thing you want to do is blindly send out refund checks to every patient on your report. Start with the smaller credit balances first. I recommend doing a debit adjustment for any credit which is $3.00 or less. This will clean up your credit balance report without having small amounts of .40 or so carrying over into another month.
Keep credits on the patient’s account that are between $3.00 and $10.00. It would cost the office more to send patient’s refund check than the amount the check is worth! Unless your patient has transferred care or left the practice for some reason. You certainly don’t want money kept on an account that later has to be sent to the state as unclaimed property.
Take The Time To Review Each Credit Balance
Begin the account audit from where the ledger reads $0. Follow down through the ledger, double checking all of the individual charges, insurance payments, patient payments, and adjustments. Know that you know where the credit comes from and that it is valid before sending the refund check out.
What if the credit balance is incorrect? Make any necessary corrections or adjustments. If a charge wasn’t posted correctly, make the necessary correction. An incorrect insurance adjustment can also be made right at this time. If you haven’t closed your month yet, this is much easier to do. This is why it is great to run this report near the end of each month before you close the month!
Sending patient refunds is the right thing to do. Following this monthly procedure will build patient trust. They will appreciate that you are not keeping something that isn’t yours. It will also keep your accounts clean. You’ll be so glad you did the work!
Dental Patient Refund Letters: Step 3
Sending Your Letters
If you are working your credit balance report for the first time, you may find some long overdue money! If you find a valid credit balance on an account where a patient hasn’t been in for six months, call them first! Their mailing address may have changed. Sending a refund check out to them might just come back in your returned mail.
Dental Patient Refund Letter #1: To Use When A Patient Has Overpaid Their Co-pay Dental Patient Refund Letters
Dental Patient Refund Letter #2: To Use When A Patient Has Pre-Paid For Dental Treatment Dental Patient Overpayment Refund
Make sure the refund letter is scanned to the patient account. You might even want to scan the check too! This will give you record of the date the check was actually sent and the address on the letter. Just in case something funky does happen. A patient might call requesting a refund after the check was sent. Or it might be the check never gets cashed at all. It happens that patient’s file the check away in their desk and it never resurfaces again.
Patients Wishing To Keep Credit Balance
There are patients who sometimes wish to keep a credit balance on their account. In fact, I have worked with patients who have paid faithfully every month into their dental office account. They have done this as their own dental savings account. I have also worked with patients who have prepaid for extensive treatment or surgical procedures over a series of months.
Create a separate billing cycle for these credit balances. Hopefully, you are working with a software system that allows you to set up several types of billing cycles. Any patient who is prepaying for dental treatment, should have their account placed in this cycle. You will still want to monitor these accounts. If a patient hasn’t been in for 6 months, and hasn’t used any of their credit, give them a call. Simply ask them if they would like this money returned or kept on account. Document this conversation as well and date stamp.
What if you can’t reach these patients by phone? If patients are not returning your calls or the phone is disconnected, something more may have happened. Try sending a letter. Create a simple letter that says you would like them to call the office to discuss the credit on their account. It won’t be often that you will see this happen. It does happen every now and then.
Close Your Month After Patient Refund Letters Are Sent
If at all possible, try not to close your month until dental patient refund letters are completed for that month. This will keep your ledger and accounting systems so much cleaner. Especially if you have a new dental front office person who may be more prone to making mistakes. This will give your office time to make any necessary changes with ease. It can also be a great learning experience for any new dental front office team member.
Quite often accounting issues show up as incorrect credits. If you see a larger credit balance report than you normally do, someone may need additional training. Additional support may be necessary in calculating patient co-pays or treatment presentation. Reading a dental insurance explanation of benefits is sometimes a challenge too. At times, the adjustments can be a little tricky to understand. At least review the credit balance report before closing the month each month.
Let me know if you have any questions about your own credit balance report or cleaning it up! I’m here for you!