Updated: Jun 15
Unpaid dental bills are an ongoing problem for most dental practices as many patients neglect to pay their bills. Then, what can you do to avoid or at least reduce those unpaid receivables?
Use the following ten recommendations to ensure that you are paid in full for your dental work.
The 10 Best Tips to Reduce Dental Overdue Receivables
Discuss insurance coverage with the patients
Request payment in full
Discount upfront payments
Keep a credit card on file
Assign a dedicated staff member
Bill frequently—the more, the better
Never be afraid to pursue payments
Have processes in place for denials
Discuss insurance coverage with the patients.
It is easy to ignore the fine print of insurance plan coverage.
Employees may have little say about changes to policies. In addition, many Americans who receive coverage under the Affordable Care Act may have chosen high deductible plans. Maybe that walk-in patient thought you were in-network. They may be unaware of any out-of-pocket expenses necessary to pay before their coverage kicks in.
Ensure your staff confirms insurance coverage before the appointment, and that coverage remains active throughout the treatment process.
Discount upfront payments.
Give a discount to patients who make their payments in advance when booking an appointment. Make it appealing for your patient to pay ahead of time. Even if your profitability decreases slightly, it is nominal compared to what you would lose by having uncollectible receivables on your books.
As a side benefit: Collecting before the appointment will reduce cancellations and no-shows.
When checking out, request payment in full.
Your staff should always ask for payment in full regardless of whether they believe the patient has the money or not. They will be amazed at how many people will pay just by asking. It gets easier with each occurrence, as patients realize payment is expected at the time of service.
Keep a credit card on file.
You could allow patients to keep a credit card on file for automatic billing and use during subsequent appointments. A majority of our patients prefer the ease of a card on file. In addition, automatic credit card charges reduce the burden and hassle on the client and the clinic while reducing late payments.
Make it easy for your patients to pay. In addition to accepting cash, check, and credit cards, offer third-party financing. Third-party financing will make it easy for more patients to move forward with their treatment.
Assign a dedicated staff member.
Dental practices often face a lot of overdue receivables because they do not have a preliminary plan to address them. Therefore, a staff member should be assigned to remind patients of late payments and monitor their activity at least twice or thrice per month.
Bill frequently—the more, the better.
Consider billing on a net-14 or net-21 basis instead of the customary practice of waiting 30 days. You shouldn't feel bad about giving shorter payment terms. In today's environment, close to 75% of invoices ask for payment within two weeks, so expectations change. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Never be afraid to pursue payments.
Please don't wait until an invoice is two weeks late before reminding a client that they owe you. Instead, try sending a friendly email as the due date approaches. Then, follow up again if they go past due.
If your client doesn't respond to emails, pick up the phone. Don't let it drift. It may not be the fun part of business, but it could help you stay in business.
Have processes in place for denials
Denials are another part of the Dental revenue system that can get miscommunicated, delayed, and cause more AR days.
Ensuring that you have processes for tracking denials can help your staff understand how your office handles denials to minimize time to payment. Communication and organization are vital in creating an effective claims denial process and reducing your AR days.
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