Dental Patient Billing Calls And Frequency
Dental patient billing calls often come into our dental practices upon receipt of a statement. A patient calls the dental practice with questions. And quite often there is confusion and misunderstanding. Additionally, we may be in the midst of another patient interaction. But there are some things we can do to help ourselves and our patients create better financial experiences.
First and foremost, call patients with unexpected balances. Before we send a patient statement, let’s look at the account. Especially if we see something that is different from what we anticipated. If we have concern, our patient certainly will as well. And we need to be sure there are no errors on the insurance carriers end in processing the claim. But we also want to know that we haven’t made any errors either.
Dental Patient Billing Calls With Insurance Errors
From time to time, dental insurance carriers do make mistakes. If a dental claim is denied, I call to find out why. Often the explanation of benefits that accompanies the claim has some explanation. However, it is usually a limited explanation. If I expected a payment, I want an explanation for the claim denial. And I want this information prior to speaking with my patients.
Perhaps additional information is needed from the patient or the employer too. Those things can happen. Especially with privately funded dental insurance plans. An employer may have been late in submitting a payment to the insurance plan. Or the employer may not have submitted the patient’s information correctly for coverage. These are good things to check on if an unexpected denial comes up. And then we may need to reach out to the patient for their assistance if this is the case.
Dental Office Calculation Errors
Dental office team members make mistakes too. And this includes dentists! Dental insurance benefits can be a challenge to understand. There are limitations, exclusions, and waiting periods to consider. And then there are downgrades, deductibles, and even yearly or life-time maximums as well. And let’s not forget the frequency limitations for every procedure. So, what do we do when we realize we made a calculation error?
Here’s what I do! I call my patient and tell them we have their insurance payment for their last dental procedures. And that I reviewed the payment and explanation of benefits carefully. Then, I ask the patient if they have received a copy as well. Often the patient will receive their explanation of benefits first! Then, I explain that the insurance payment differs from what we expected. And I tell them they do have a remaining balance. I remain calm, sincere, and real. And avoid the words “I’m sorry” or “unfortunately” because I want to keep the tone light and positive.
I then offer to send the patient a statement with the copy of their explanation of benefits if they would like it. And I offer them some time to review the charges, payments, and balance. And tell them that because of the unexpected balance, we can extend a little time for their payment and ask if they would like a time extension. Maybe something like this, “I’ll put your statement and a copy of your explanation of benefits in the mail today, Mr. Jones. We know this is an unexpected balance for you. We are equally surprised. And we can certainly extend a little time to you to make this payment. Please feel free to call me with any further questions. Or if you would like to extend your payment beyond our usual 30 days.”
Dental Patient Billing Calls Unexpectedly
Sometimes, we receive a patient billing call unexpectedly. Because our dental patients may receive their explanation of benefits first. This can happen. And our patient may be upset, confused, and even angry. There are times when a patient calls their insurance company first. And the insurance company may say something that upsets the patient. And we are left to manage the fall out.
What do we do then? The hardest part is not to become defensive. Take a deep breath and just listen to our patient. Collect everything they offer and make notes of the conversation. Allow the patient to say anything and everything they want to. And then, say “thank you”. We want to let our patient know we appreciate their call first and foremost.
Take Time To Research The Account
Then we want to ask our patient’s permission to do our own research. “Would it be okay, Mr. Jones, if I look into this a little further? I could definitely call you back tomorrow around 3 p.m. Would that work for you? Or would you prefer a different time?” Just be sure to give a time frame. I would avoid a definite time but give an approximate time. And then be sure to stick to it! Even if you call your patient and ask for more time.
Come into agreement with your patient and make a friend. Let’s not lose a dental patient to billing confusion. We want to take responsibility, be kind, listen, and offer our help. No matter how upset our patient may be. Our goal is to create a resolution and build our patient’s trust in us. And we may just need to involve our dentist or practice manager from time to time for advice or assistance.