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.
Once a Month
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.
Costly Mistakes for Dental Practices
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.
Last Week of the Month
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 days to audit accounts. This also gives me a little time to do any necessary adjustments or send refund checks before I close the month.
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.
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Step by Step
- 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?
Dental Office Credit Balances and 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.
Make a Copy
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.