Dental Office PPE Conversations Today
Dental office PPE conversations are a hot topic these days. In fact, it is the number one search here on my website every day right now. And this also comes up in every conversation I have with dental practice teams. “Can we charge for PPE? How much are other practices charging for PPE? And what do we say to our patients? Because patients are really upset! Oh.. and how do we bill insurance? And will they pay?”
So, let me share my thoughts with you all on these questions. Thank you all for reaching out and asking. And you can trust that if you have a question that someone else probably does too. All questions are great questions. The more we talk and share and work through our challenges together, the stronger and better prepared we are.
Our Current State of Flux
Our world and our dental practices are in a state of flux. As we all work through this global pandemic, we can count on continuing change. And the more flexible we remain, the better we can adapt. And the better we adapt, the more help we are to our teams and our patients. Therefore, we want to stay open to the reality that our environments must continue to adapt to the needs of our times.
We can assure our patients that we continue to stay in tune to dental practice recommendations and requirements. And that all safety and protection measures are being followed and implemented. We can also remind our patients that we are with them in the dental office, and we also need to be safe. That we certainly wouldn’t risk our own health and well-being either. And as well continue to say, “We are in this together.”
Dental Office PPE Conversations & Cos
Dental office PPE conversations seem to be more about the cost than what steps are being taken. I’m hearing that patients are frustrated at the cost and additional charge for PPE. But not that anyone is asking what is required or how they are protected. So, I want to say that it may not be that patients are frustrated about the charge. Even though they say they are. They may have just been given an outlet to express frustration with everything else that is going on in their lives! And we all know there are a whole lot of things to be frustrated about!
An additional charge for PPE is just one more change people face in their routines right now. And change is hard for most people even on a good day. Not to mention that none of us have lived through a global pandemic or anything like this before. So, what do we do and how do we get through each of these conversations?
Find A Way To Come Into Agreement
Let’s try to make a friend and not a foe with our patients who are resistant. If a patient expresses frustration, we can as well. We can agree that this is a difficult time. And it’s fine to share how challenging safe dentistry is today. But that we are available for our patients who wish to receive dental care at this time. And that we also understand some patients may choose to wait.
Keep the conversation light and positive. At least as much is possible. Our dental practice schedules are much slower these days. And we can focus on our patients who are most receptive to what is available to them at this time. It’s okay for our resistant patients to wait if they must. And that is just where I would leave it. If a patient cannot accept where we are, let’s wait until they can. It’s okay for everyone to be exactly where they are in their own processing.
Dental Office PPE Conversations & Insurance
Dental office PPE conversations around insurance billing are also a consideration. Patients want their insurance policy to pay for any PPE charges incurred. If only we could make those promises to them! But we cannot. In fact, I recommend that patients pay for the additional PPE even if they have dental insurance to consider. Because we can always credit their account or refund them if we need to.
Ultimately, we want to avoid chasing PPE charges later. If we have to bill every one of our patients with dental insurance for PPE charges next month, that is going to be a whole lot of bills for PPE. Even if the claims do get processed within a month. And this is not a time to be chasing money. But, rather, a time to be extra cautious and be sure we are collecting what is due at the time of service.
Dental PPE Narratives On A Separate Claim Form
What should the narrative be for the billing of dental PPE? This is another big search on my website. My recommendation is to put the additional charges for PPE on a separate claim form and not to add them to a claim form with routine or restorative charges and codes. We do not want to delay processing and payment of our claims.
The CDT code we bill for PPE is D1999, “unspecified preventive procedure by report”. That “by report” section is our direction that we need a narrative. The narrative should be less than 80 characters. And it should also include the type of PPE used. Make a note in the patient’s chart as well. The narrative would go on line 35 of a dental claim form “Remarks”. Write something like “additional required PPE: face shield, n95 mask, gown.” I recommend a charge of $10.
And consider an additional code and charge for the mouth rinse. For this charge, the dental practice can use CDT code D9999, “unspecified adjunctive procedure by report”. This also must be noted in the patient’s chart as an administered product and service and that it was required due to COVID-19. For this narrative I would write “as required due to COVID-19, this pre-procedure rinse of ______________ was administered.” This could also be a charge of $10