Dental office collection scripts really begin at treatment presentation. It’s important that financial discussions are clear from the very beginning. And it’s also important that the patient has time to review their treatment plan, absorb the information, and process it.
Where to Present Treatment
Treatment plans are best discussed initially in the treatment room. The dentist or hygienist should sit the patient up. The treatment plans are discussed with the patient in an upright position. And using any x-rays, photos, or periodontal chart that support the need for treatment.
This is where the first collection conversation happens. If we don’t communicate well or make a mistake here, we will most likely be chasing money after treatment is complete. And we may even lose a patient over it. Or at the very least, cause some upset and have to do a lot of explaining later.
What do we say when an insurance payment and explanation of benefits are different from what we expected? I think that what we do is even more important than what we say here. Although what we say matters too. Don’t get me wrong. However, it’s important to check on this insurance payment quickly.
Review The Explanation of Benefits
Review the explanation of benefits to be sure everything looks okay. Try to determine where the payment is off and why. Because you are going to need to say something to your patient about this.
Once you know why the payment is different, we can take the next step. Let’s say the insurance payment and explanation of benefits look correct. And what we discover is that one of the composite restorations done on this tooth was previously done.
Let’s say that the dentist is not a contracted dentist with the insurance. Therefore, the dentist is not bound by any contract to make any adjustments or write-offs. And this dentist did not do the filling. So, although we expected an insurance payment, it is denied. What do we do next? We call the patient and let them know. Or at the very least, leave them a message.
Here’s What to Say
We begin with a message for our patient. “Hi Bill. This is April at Dr. Brown’s office. Hope you are having a nice day today! I have an explanation of benefits from your insurance company today. It’s for the filling we did for you recently. If you could please call me when you have a moment. And I’ll put a copy of the explanation of benefits in the mail for you too. Thank you.”
We Reach Our Patient
This time we reach our patient. “Hi Bill. This is April at Dr. Brown’s office. How are you today? Awesome! We have an explanation of benefits for your dental insurance today. Have you seen it, too? I’m not sure if one was mailed to you too, or not? No. Okay. They have denied the filling and say the restoration was done less than 24 months ago. Yes. I know. When we spoke with you, your estimate was that the filling was done more than 24 months ago. Time does pass quickly. Yes, I’ll put a statement in the mail today with a copy of this explanation of benefits. Thank you.”
The point is that it’s better to notify the patient and confront the situation. If a statement is sent without any explanation, it could be ignored. Or you might receive an angry phone call. Or possibly just a confused patient. Either way, it’s best to avoid all confusion and face the situation with a phone call as quickly as possible
Patient Balance Over 30 Days
Our patient is not picking up the call. So, we leave a message. “Hi Bill. This is April at Dr. Brown’s dental office. I was hoping to be able to speak with you today. Maybe you can give me a call back before the office closes today. We would greatly appreciate it. Our number here is 888-8888. And we are in the office until 5. Thank you.”
Now, let’s have our patient answer the phone. “Hi Bill, This is April at Dr. Brown’s dental office. How are you today? Awesome! Glad to hear it. And I’m glad I reached you. I won’t keep you. But I wanted to let you know that we haven’t received your payment for the filling we spoke about. Could I please take your credit card over the phone now? Sure. I can wait for you to get that.”
Always Ask for Immediate Payment
Always ask for immediate payment. Don’t ask when the patient can send it. Unless of course the patient tells you that they will need to send that in. But even then, try to arrange for a time when you can call for payment. Most people are able to pay with a credit or debit card today. If the patient insists on sending in a check, then get the date the check is coming.