One of the most complex decisions when it comes to running a dental practice is raising treatment fees.
Many dentists are hesitant to increase their fees over fears that they will see a reduction in patients.
The fact that the U.S. is currently reentering a second major economic slowdown in three years turns a fee increase into a serious dental practice management issue.
As one Illinois dentist put it, “I am concerned about raising fees and losing patients who already have money woes.”
The Wealthy Dentist decided to survey dentists and ask them when was the last time they raised their
fees. Here is how dentists responded:
- 27% raised their fees in the last 6 months.
- 29% raised their fees in the last year.
- 26% raised their fees in the last 2 years.
- 11% raised their fees in the last 3 years.
- 7% raised their fees in the last 5 years.
Suburban dentists were 3 times as likely to have raised their fees than their urban or rural counterparts.
What dentists had to say:
Economic woes …
“I am hesitant to raise fees due to present “slow” period.” (Kansas dentist)
“I raised them in the last 6 months, but I had not raised them for 3 years because of the economy.” (Texas dentist)
“We wait and see how the economy does.” (Tennessee dentist)
“It’s tough-as-hell to do in this economy.” (Illinois dentist)
“With this economy and my competition, I felt I should lower some of my fees.” (Missouri oral surgeon)
Keeping pace with inflation …
“We at least raise them annually to cover for inflation (approximately 3%). We raised our gold crown fees significantly more due to the increased price of gold and the lab fees.” (Ohio dentist)
“We raise them every year usually by about 2 – 3%.” (Minnesota dentist)
“Gold is up, so fees must follow. Our distributors adding gas surcharges, so they need to be addressed.” (New York dentist)
“Fees should be raised every year to keep up with inflation, increased supply fees and the loss of value of the dollar.” (Kansas dentist)
“We raise them every year on Jan. 1.” (Florida dentist)
“We raise our fees on a rolling schedule. We raise fees in certain areas (hygiene one quarter, crowns the next quarter etc.) every quarter. We base our fee increases on the prevailing fees in our zip code which we obtain through an annual fee survey which we purchase. While it may not be 100% accurate, it gives us a guide as to the fees in the area.” (Illinois dentist)
Insurance is a problem …
“How can we raise fees when insurance dictates everything anyway? One time a patient has Met-life that pays the fee for a service and the next time that we see them they still have Met-life, but the fee-schedule plan is at greatly reduced fee. Our fees don’t seem to make much of a difference. The insurance companies set fees at 1995 levels.” (Texas dentist)
“Are other dentists experiencing denied, or reduced fees that are submitted to the insurance companies lately (e.g., Delta)?” (California dentist)
“I haven’t raised fees for 3-4 years. I used to raise them every year. But raising fees is almost a moot point because the majority of my patients are on PPO insurances that are not raising fees at all, and in some cases, lowering reimbursements.” (Nevada dentist)
Have you raised your treatment fees? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!