Dental Office Credit Balances & Monthly Reports
Dental office credit balances are easy to miss. And we can easily take notice of a patient’s credit we want to take a closer look at. But then we get distracted by something else that pops up.. and maybe forget all about it. That’s why it’s important to run a credit balance report at least once a month. When we work on the patient credit balances monthly nothing gets missed here. And this definitely isn’t an area you want to miss something.
No matter what you say, it looks deceptive. If there is a credit balance on a patient account, it looks bad. Even if is not intentional. And it just feels bad. Nobody wants that. And nobody wants to explain why or how it came to be. It can be embarrassing. But it can also be an expensive mistake. Especially if those credit balances begin to add up.
So take the time to run this report each month. Make the time to look at each and every account. I like to run the credit balance report about 3 weeks into the month. And to leave myself about 10 day to audit accounts. This also gives me a little time to do any necessary adjustments or send refund checks before I close the month.
Dental Office Credit Balances & Account Audits
Account audits are absolutely essential. This takes time. You want to know why there is a credit balance. And if the credit balance is truly a credit. Was there an error made? Did an insurance pay correctly? There is a lot to double-check. Let’s take it step by step. And I’ll walk you through it. Print the patient ledger and grab a note pad. You will also want to print any insurance explanation of benefits or have them with you.
- Start where the account was at a $0.00 balance. No matter how far back you need to go.
- Review each posted charge and the patient’s chart. Double check each charge for accuracy.
- Look at all insurance payments carefully. Was every claim paid correctly?
- If you are contracted to make adjustments, look at this. Often this is a problem.
- Finally, note all patient payments too. Did a patient over-pay for any reason or pre-pay?
If you find an error anywhere, make note of that error. For example, if a filling wasn’t posted to a ledger, post it, and make a note. Or if an insurance company paid twice and no refund was sent, make a note. Note the patient’s account. You can do this in the ledger itself, and in a guarantor note. Make the correction you need to make and document well. No documentation or notes on the correction makes it all look even more deceptive.
Credit Balances To Keep On Account
There are patient balances to keep on account. If you have a patient who has pre-paid for dental treatment. This is a valid credit balance to keep. So, just make a note on the account that patient would like to keep credit balance. And that they are paying ahead for treatment. As long as everything lines up here, you are fine!
Some patients prefer to keep a credit. When you find a patient has a valid credit on their account, call them. Sometimes it happens. An insurance company may pay more than we expected. Or there was an accidental over-payment made by your patient. But be sure you have established a dollar amount that you will consider to refund. Then call your patient to let them know they have a credit. Ask if they would like a refund check. Some may prefer to keep it.
Keep credits on account for patients scheduled for treatment. It doesn’t make any sense to send money back to a patient who is scheduled for treatment. It’s a waste of time and resources. But you do want to let them know when they come in. Or you could tell them when you confirm the appointment. Then you can take this credit off the amount they actually owe for treatment.
Set Guidelines For Patient Refunds
The dental office definitely needs a policy. You want to have very clear guidelines for the amount a credit should be before a refund is sent out. And you also want to set a guide for how often you will contact your patient due a refund. Here’s my rule of thumb for you on a refund policy:
- Credit Balances Over $20 With No Scheduled Treatment – After Account Audit To Confirm
- All Credit Balances To Patients Who Transfer Care – After Account Audit To Confirm
- All Credit Balances To Patients Who Have Been Inactivated (no appt in last 18 months) – After Account Audit To Confirm
A credit balance that results from an insurance over-payment must be taken care of. As soon as you see an insurance over-payment, refund immediately. This refund goes back to the insurance company and not the patient. Even if your patient requests the money, don’t do it! Send this money back where it came from.
Include a copy of all explanation of benefits. If you received more than one payment, send back all explanation of benefits. And include a short letter stating who you are and why you are sending this back. Be sure to include your name and contact information. If there are any questions, you want to be able to clear it up. And better yet! Call the insurance company and speak to someone about this error. Find out exactly what they want and how they want it!
Then be sure to copy everything. Make notes about any phone calls. Scan any documents into the patient’s chart that you can. Note the check number and the date you sent the refund check. Dot every i, and cross every t. Leave no room for question or doubt of any kind. Keep everything as clean and easy to follow as possible.
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Write-Offs & Adjustments
There are times when I adjust off a credit balance. Just like there are times when I write off an actual balance owed. My limit is $3.00. But I’m also very careful with this. I don’t adjust off a credit balance for a cash pay patient who didn’t have correct change, and pays in cash. But I will adjust off a -.40 credit balance for a patient who has insurance and I don’t want to see .40 on my credit balance report for the next 10 years. It balances out. Because I also adjust off a $2.40 balance owed by that patient when insurance doesn’t pay quite what I had thought.
Dental Office Credit Balances & How?
How do these patient balances happen? In a variety of ways and usually with new team members. If you see an increase in patient credit balances, investigate. And if you have a new team member, keep an eye on this report. This report is one that you definitely want to monitor each and every month. It is a report that will tell you a lot about what’s happening at your dental front office. And if you ignore this report, you may find yourself in a jam!
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Sometimes, it’s just lack of knowledge. Training for your dental front office team is so important. And great training takes time. Nobody is born just knowing how to do all the tasks that need to get done. The dental front office is a hub of activity. It’s fun and it’s exciting! And it’s tough! The dental front office is on stage and on their toes all day! With a million and one things to do! Be sure you support your dental front office team in every way possible.
And if you are reading this as a dental front office team member, ask for help! It’s okay! None of us knows everything! Not even close! You can ask your doc for help. You can also find help here! There are always options. My lifetime membership option is a great way to get the tips and training you or your dental front office team need. Join Today!